Disconnect To and From

Derrick’s post has me thinking about tech sabbaths/breaks/holidays/fasts. Lots of folks seem to take time in the summer to disconnect, which strikes me as not a bad thing. danah takes email sabbaticals and Dan’s taking time to let his brain regenerate after finishing his Master’s program.

It strikes me that there’s a potential distinction between disconnecting to and disconnecting from. (I know that they’re not entirely distinct functions.) In the case of the former, people are unplugging to do something- travel, spend more focused time with family, nap, have a leisurely lunch, etc. The latter seems to suggest that there’s something about digital life that’s makes one feel less than healthy.

If one’s purpose in disconnecting is to get away from particular things that are stressful, I wonder if it wouldn’t be valuable to think about ways to make those things less stressful while one is connected. For example, if email causes stress, explore ways to better manage it. If the speed of Twitter or particular people you follow suck the life out of you, unfollow them. (Twerpscan is a good tool for this.) If the thought of joining yet another social network (say, Google+) makes you sick to your stomach, say no thanks to the invite. Or join, but limit yourself following a Path-like 50. If you have trouble writing while connected, check out some distraction reduction software.

Sometimes it’s not the being connected that zaps energy, it’s the way we work when we are connected.

Who needs TV?

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6 thoughts on “Disconnect To and From

  1. Good advice, Meredith. My online work ebbs and flows, and I manage it reasonably well. One of the advantages of online work over real-time work is that it can usually be done more on my schedule. My biggest stressors come when the circuitry surprises me–when something breaks, doesn’t work correctly, or suddenly works differently than it did yesterday.

  2. I think geography matters to my mindset. When we were at the beach, technically I still had all the access I needed to tweet, Facebook, etc. However, I did nothing more than share a few photos of our vacation via FB. I played all day, rested at night, and generally had a wonderful time. When I’m at home, but “not working” I love that I can sit down for an hour at the device of choice, engage in some social and professional networking, and NOT have the feeling that there’s something else waiting to be done. Of course, there’s housework, but seriously. . .

  3. I’m trying to reflect on what I originally wrote, and consider what you have written too…I don’t consider my virtual life unhealthy-it really feeds my brain. I guess I was saying in order to recharge, I need to walk away from some work? I was so immersed in Web 2.0 in June that I felt a need for balance–think mind, body, spirit triangle. My email and PLN chatter is such a “firehose” sometimes…To walk away from something usually means walking to something else, doesn’t it? If I spend too much time tending my virtual garden, I neglect my backyard garden. I think it is all about balance. Oh, and I absolutely hate being in a chair and absolutely love being outside…

  4. Would y’all say that online is generally a work space for you? When I disconnect, I tend to feel disconnected from friends, rather than relaxed because I’m disconnected from work. Think that’s a generational thing?

    • I have pretty good barriers between social (Facebook) and professional networking. Probably why I posted beach pictures on FB while I was on vacation, but didn’t tweet a thing or read any tweets. Twitter is work b/c none of my “friends” are there. Also, I live in a new town. Not sure what that has to do with anything, but I think it does.

      • For me, it’s strange because some of the people I would have initially considered online colleagues have drifted into the friend sphere, so it gets trickier to separate. Or even if I wouldn’t categorize them as friends, there are varying levels of trust based on amount of interaction, shared interests, etc. What’s interesting is to be living that out in a public space. One of the reasons I was drawn to Google+ was because it offered the opportunity to make those spheres a bit more defined and also interact to varying degrees with people.

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