What happened was, I ran down the street to the grocery store for a couple of items, a spur-of-the-moment thing. Picked them up, and then there was a big line-up for the cashiers. I stared blankly for a moment and fished in my pocket... oops! I’d left my phone at home. Wow... I was going to have to interact with reality, in the form of a supermarket queue. There are all these Net contrarians lamenting everyone’s constant escape into their mobile device’s screen, and now my escape was cut off. So... screw the contrarians, it sucked. Everywhere I looked, I was looking at overaggressive marketing or celebrity tabloids. The other people were all tired and grumpy and I didn’t know any of them. It was only a handful of minutes, but I really wish I’d brought the Internet.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: David Megginson (Jan 14 2014, at 12:05)

I have in the past found some value in disconnecting on Sundays, just to give other parts of my brain some development time (even if it happens when I'm standing in a line of grumpy people).

I screwed that up a bit when I got my Nexus 7 a year and a half ago, because that's now where I read most of my books, and when I'm reading anyway and see a G+ notification ...

So maybe back to paper books on Sundays, or at least switching the N7 to airplane mode.


From: Dirkjan Ochtman (Jan 14 2014, at 13:39)

Ah, but:


(Really highly recommended.)


From: Preston L. Bannister (Jan 14 2014, at 13:41)

You *do* need to pay attention to the folk around you. Some are very worth attention and interaction - and you do not want to miss those folk, in preference to burning time on the web.

Others ... not so much.


From: Tom Magliery (Jan 14 2014, at 14:13)

It's interesting that you mention not knowing any of them. Is that to imply that knowing them would have been a better situation? But if you (and they) are buried in your respective devices, you will never know them.


From: Craig (Jan 15 2014, at 09:49)

Concur with post. During a recent outage the only times I felt really deprived were (a) waiting for the bus and not being able to see when the next would turn up* and (b) when trailing the wife round the supermarket. You need a means of escape. Though around these parts queueing itself isn't that bad because you can usually find a half decent magazine.

* and that only because I had the choice of 2 stops to juggle.


From: hawkse (Jan 15 2014, at 13:13)

"...need a means of escape...".

Really? If you don't want to interact with your surroundings, just *be*. You don't have to fill every second of life with activity. Just standing around, observing or listening to your own brain really isn't that bad at all.

Highly recommended.


From: Matěj Cepl (Jan 16 2014, at 02:15)

One more in the “just be” camp. Thinking about this story about one of the Desert Fathers:

One brother came to the Scetii desert to see father Moses longing to hear his wisdom. The old man told him: “Go back to your kellion (monastic cell), sit down, and kellion will teach you everything.”

I heard an interpretation of this story by Anselm Grün (unfortunately, most of his excellent works have never been translated into English; he is a German Benedictine monk heavily influenced by the tradition of the Desert Fathers). Time when we learn most about ourselves, God (if you care), and everything, are times when we just listen. We shouldn’t then read, pray, listen to any outside sources, just listen and wait until our soul deprived of all external inputs starts to speak to us. Silence in this world is the most valuable commodity which can lead us closer to God. Which is probably reason why being in danger to find out Truth we rather stuff our world with all possible noise to get rid of the silence.

But this listening to ourselves doesn’t have to happen only in the silence of the monastery (although, it has its advantages). We can quit ourselves anywhere, including the queue in the grocery story (yeah, I really like the David Foster Wallace thing).

And yes, and I am sorry how much time I have missed by stuffing it with all those distractions I like (including my Firefox OS phone and its games).


From: Paul Boddie (Jan 17 2014, at 16:41)

Daydreaming: a vanishing art.


From: Gavin B (Jan 21 2014, at 23:09)

Montale the Nobel poet always carried a pencil and paper in his pocket - also for such occasions.


From: w (Jan 31 2014, at 13:22)

try it again. then again.

you've forgotten how to do something and declaring that it must not, therefore, be any good.

surely you don't need me, a blog commenter, to point out what pathetic low-grade middle-school bullshit that is.


From: Simon Griffee (Feb 01 2014, at 07:12)


<em>From an interview with Kurt Vonnegut in the November 1995 issue of Inc. Technology. Vonnegut was asked to discuss his feelings about living in an increasingly computerized world.</em>

I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I'd never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil. Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, “Are you still doing typing?” Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, “Okay, I'll send you the pages.” Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, “Where are you going?” “Well,” I say, “I'm going to buy an envelope.” And she says, “You're not a poor man. Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes? They'll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet.” And I say, “Hush.” So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I'm secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I've had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.


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