What I learned from going offline for 48 hours

Posted by Nishant Shah at Feb 24, 2019 10:00 AM |
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A weekend without the internet shows just how much control we surrender to online chatter.

The article was published by Indian Express on February 24, 2019.


In one of those blue-funk I-need-to-digitally-detox modes, I went offline for 48 hours. It was interesting to just turn the internet off — putting all the devices on flight mode and doing other things — and spend an entire weekend away from screens and home assistants. The world felt a little empty and silent without the constant chatter of all my smart devices.

When I woke up on Monday morning and brought the internet back into my life, my phone vibrated for five minutes flat as all the different apps woke up to the sweet smell of connectivity and started downloading information in an apocalyptic frenzy. Every notification sound that has ever been set on my phone and other devices, competed with another to ring the loudest and announce the world waiting at my doorstep.

I was curious to know what this extraordinary traffic could be about. My work email was more or less where I had left it before I signed out, but everywhere else was chatter. I had more than a 100 notifications of birthdays, events, and important occasions that I had missed. Despite the fact that I had not produced any content, not initiated any conversations, and not engaged with any material, I had more than 400 notifications from five main social media apps, where people had tagged me, poked me and pulled me into long conversation threads that I could no longer recognise or trace back.

An equal number of friendly algorithms had curated things that needed my attention and were warning me that I might have missed out on the most life-changing moments. My personal messaging system was filled with group messages, those from family and friends who were not talking to me but making me a witness to their conversations. There were also a few frantic messages, first checking if the messages were being delivered, then wondering why I was not responding, and then going into a rage about my rudeness for not even informing them that I wouldn’t be replying to them.

In one of those blue-funk I-need-to-digitally-detox modes, I went offline for 48 hours. It was interesting to just turn the internet off — putting all the devices on flight mode and doing other things — and spend an entire weekend away from screens and home assistants. The world felt a little empty and silent without the constant chatter of all my smart devices.

When I woke up on Monday morning and brought the internet back into my life, my phone vibrated for five minutes flat as all the different apps woke up to the sweet smell of connectivity and started downloading information in an apocalyptic frenzy. Every notification sound that has ever been set on my phone and other devices, competed with another to ring the loudest and announce the world waiting at my doorstep.

I was curious to know what this extraordinary traffic could be about. My work email was more or less where I had left it before I signed out, but everywhere else was chatter. I had more than a 100 notifications of birthdays, events, and important occasions that I had missed. Despite the fact that I had not produced any content, not initiated any conversations, and not engaged with any material, I had more than 400 notifications from five main social media apps, where people had tagged me, poked me and pulled me into long conversation threads that I could no longer recognise or trace back.

An equal number of friendly algorithms had curated things that needed my attention and were warning me that I might have missed out on the most life-changing moments. My personal messaging system was filled with group messages, those from family and friends who were not talking to me but making me a witness to their conversations. There were also a few frantic messages, first checking if the messages were being delivered, then wondering why I was not responding, and then going into a rage about my rudeness for not even informing them that I wouldn’t be replying to them.

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