digital detox

I’m going to directly contradict my week 4 summary and write a bit of text…because I want to!

I am very grateful for a ‘taking stock/breathing’ week. My past fortnight has been ‘challenging’ and it’s really good to be able to look at everyone else’s artefacts in greater detail and have time to think and comment.

The challenges of the past two weeks actually exemplify one of the issues about that we’ve been discussing, so this isn’t a ‘digital detox’ in the sense that I’m removing all traces of digital (which would be rather counterproductive on WordPress); rather, I’m using a very simplistic digital medium (text) to tease out the places where I haven’t quite adjusted to the already-ubiquitous digital that is a part of my life.

So here is an outline of what I was up to:

Tuesday, 29 January: Working diligently on EDC at home; answering work emails as necessary
Wednesday, 30 January: Urgent updating, proofing, testing of VLE sites
Thursday, 31 January: Same as above
Friday, 1 February: Same as above; work from home in pm because of sick child; 1pm: start creating webinar presentation to give at 5pm
Saturday, 2 February: Update CV & cover letter, email both; Skype with family
Monday, 4 February: More VLE corrections; make webinar recording available
Tuesday, 5 February: Work on EDC, but mostly VLE updates; receive email about interview on Monday; request wine & chocolate via email (different correspondent)
Wednesday, 6 February: Final VLE updates; evening to myself used to start digital artefact
Thursday, 7 February: Demonstrate VLE & answer questions; evening to myself to finish digital artefact
Friday, 8 February: Arrange for people to produce e-tivities; plan Prezi talk
Saturday, 9 February: Skype
Sunday, 10 February: Use Google Drive to create presentation for interview on Monday
Monday, 11 February: Survey stat aggregation; more e-tivities; more Prezi; interview

And here is all the stuff I did that I didn’t immediately think of when trying to pick out the digital for the diary above: Facebook, Twitter, MyFitnessPal, email, texting, taking photos with iPod and phone, ordering groceries, checking bank balance, ordering presents, trialling Education City (under duress), helping find Horrid Henry on YouTube, sending emails with Maily, internet radio, music on the iPod, on-demand TV, editing videos, requesting links to journal articles, requesting book digitisation, backing up mySQL…

So why did the digital in my diary stand out? I think there are a couple reasons.

First, it was simply what was occupying most of my time, and perhaps causing stress because of deadlines or anticipation like a planned Skype session. None of this is about these things being digital really.

Secondly, however, I think I picked up on the blurring of work and home in the two corporate videos especially because of my recent experiences. There is a lot of technology in both of my lists that makes it a lot easier to be connected to everything all the time. In the past, I’ve usually been quite strict with myself in, for example, not checking work emails when I wasn’t at work, or resisting fixing ‘just one thing’ until I was back in the office. But when place becomes less important to the ability to do work–when it can be done from anywhere–and when there are emergency situations like a web space needing updated in time for an event, or a sick child needing to be looked after the same day as a synchronous event is running…the blurring is better than the alternative of things just not getting done.

In which case, I should be happy about all this and stop moaning. The problem is, though, that my use of these technologies has outpaced my expectations–perhaps my comfort zone. I perceive different spaces and times as ‘work’, ‘family’, ‘study’, ‘self’ etc. When one of these infringes on another’s time and/or space, this causes me discomfort, if not stress: the convergence of different technologies has led to the convergence of my life spaces. I guess it’s not so much the case of ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’ as ‘there aren’t enough hours in the time I’ve allotted to X, and its usurping time from Y’.

I’m not so much complaining (really!), as realising that I’ll need to adjust my perceptions of these spaces and times and perhaps adjust the way that I ring-fence them to keep myself sane while remaining in the 21st century.

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