Digital Sabbatical: Shutting off in September

Have you ever thought of taking a worthwhile break from the internet/social media, but could never really think of entertaining the thought? Over the last few years we have become completely immersed in the digital/social media realm, some for good and some for bad. Twitter and Facebook have become the new crack addiction, and blogging has taken off to new heights allowing the writer to showcase their “talents”.

Blogger and social media strategist, Gwen Bell, decided that she needed to take time from the world that has given her so much and desensitize from it all. For the month of July she took what she called a “digital sabbatical” – no Twitter, no Facebook, no blog updates [or reading], no checking emails, and not taking meetings. Upon returning from said sabbatical she felt great and had a new outlook on all things digital and how she spends her time with the world of dot-com.

I really enjoyed reading her perspective on why she did it, and how she felt afterward. We’ve been told for years and year and years that computers would be the future, but I don’t think we were really aware of how deep we would be immersing ourselves in the world-wide web.  Upon reading her experience I decided that I need a digital sabbatical. If we can take a sabbatical from our real-life work, why can’t we take a sabbatical from technology?

Starting September 7 I will be unplugging from social media and the internet to allow myself a reintroduction into the world of being a university student. I may have only been on a year-long break, but after a while you forget how to be a university student especially when you have become a full-time employee.  The only time I will be logging on the internet will be for school and school related work (I have one class that I will be taking online, and surprise, it’s a computer course) only.  I want to be reconnected with being a student, being on campus, creating in person relationships with the student body, the teaching staff, and classmates.  Indulging myself in cup after cup after cup of coffee, sitting in the library with my face plunged in to books and my hand sweeping across my notebook as I furiously re-write notes and study.

Here is what will happen over the course of September:

  1. No “fresh” blog posts. Any entries will be pre-scheduled and will be written over the next little while.
  2. No comments. The comment feature for this blog will be turned off for the duration of the break.
  3. No Twitter or Facebook. This is like telling a crack addict they’ve been cut off. It’s going to be hard, but it just might be worthwhile. If you know me and want to invite me to your event, call me. You’ve got my number. The apps will be deleted off my iPod and Blackberry.
  4. Stop checking emails every minute on the minute. We tend to check our emails as if we’re waiting for one to say we won the lottery (and if you get one, there’s a good chance you don’t have a rich uncle from Nigeria who is leaving all his money to you), literally joining yourself at the hip. I tend not to get important emails and most of it is junky (flyers, ads, etc) so I’m not going to be checking it all the time. Five minutes a day, tops.

This is going to be extremely hard and I’m going to need support from my friends. Don’t get me wrong, social media and the internet can do so much for you (especially if you’re a blogger) but it can also consume your life if you let it. I love social media but I have also let it become addicting to the point where it’s taken a huge chunk of my day-to-day life. I want to get out more, I want to become a better student, I want to focus on my health and working out more and I just want to…. disconnect.

Have you ever thought of taking a digital sabbatical? Are you willing to take a digital sabbatical? Have you taken one, and if so for how long? What did you learn?

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