Alternately titled: the value of getting off the internet for five fucking minutes here and there.
I am no fan of the genre of essays where a platinum-blonde platinum card tells you how she feels so much better after a digital detox, and everyone should go to Vanuatu and just unwind for like twenty two days and really listen to the rhythms of life and get centered. The advice to unplug is usually hopelessly classist, wrapped in self-assured faux-guru Goopidity and I hate it.
So naturally I’ve become one of those people.
I didn’t cut out gluten or go vegan. I didn’t start meditating or paying someone to teach me how to quiet my own mind. I didn’t even cut back on my drinking (in THIS economy?). All I did was decide to stay off the fucking internet first thing in the morning. One hour. Folks, it is revolutionary.
I think it started a few months ago when my husband very gently asked whether we could get a moratorium on discussions of violence against women happening in the world until after noon. It is my long custom to swallow the news whole when I first wake up, and in discussing it he had noticed my most agitated moments (and a lot of his anxiety) came out of those kinds of stories.
It doesn’t help me or the world to crank my outrage engine first thing out of bed. I have my suspicions about how it helps me write, but I am apparently capable of writing without it. All it did was upset me, and upset people around me. So I stopped.
To push the envelope further, we decided to turn our phones off for an hour every morning. I put my phone into airplane mode and do something else. Read a book. Earn my first cup of coffee. Write in my diary. It’s remarkably peaceful, for such a small thing. And not starting my morning full of confusion and rage really sets a different tone on the day.
I’m not saying it’ll work for everybody. I’m not even suggesting you try it. I am just telling the story of what it’s like to stop waking up to unrelenting horror. The horror can wait. But only for a little while.
The internet is my marketplace and my office and I can’t afford to ignore it for long. But after just a few weeks of this, I am starting to feel like Dorothy when Glinda tells her she’s had the power to go home all the time, she just had to ask for it.
All I had to do was shut off my phone for an hour, and my emotional equilibrium has returned to pre-2016 levels.
I am going to keep doing it.