パソコン、ブラックベリー、携帯電話、iPod などを毎日使う生活から離れることはできるのだろうか？ JACKIE HOFFART PHOTOS
I'm well connected, electronically speaking. The fastest way to contact me is by email — not phone. There probably isn't an hour of the day in which I am completely unreachable, except while I'm sleeping.
I have three email addresses — at one point in my life I had seven. I use social media — Facebook, Twitter, Flickr — to keep in touch with my friends and share news and pictures. I have had a blog for about 10 years. Every day I access between three and five different news websites, and a few more for news analysis and commentary.
I have a BlackBerry for work, a simpler mobile for texts and calls, an iPod for music and games — and I use all three every day. I listen to news podcasts during my commute, and I know that there's reliable wifi at one of my bus stops here in London.
I don't have a TV, so I use my computer for watching movies and TV shows on demand. Basically, I'm in front of some kind of screen for the vast majority of my day.
And so I wondered, what if I "disconnected" entirely for a full week? I had the perfect opportunity — a holiday to a remote part of Italy. Before my flight took off, I shut off all my connected devices and didn't turn them back on until eight days later.
The irony is, I failed this challenge almost immediately because I had to find an Internet connection on the second day to write my editor at ST to make sure my previous column was ready for print! But apart from that, I never used my phone or the Internet.
Surprisingly, I didn't really miss being on Facebook or checking my email. The things I found most frustrating were not being able to look up detailed weather forecasts, not being able to access Google Maps and, even though I'm not really a sports fan, not being able to check how the Canadian teams were doing in the Stanley Cup.
The place I stayed at did have satellite TV though, so my normal obsession with news and culture was well taken care of, albeit in a more passive, 1990s kind of way.
"Reconnecting" once I returned home was very anticlimactic. I was reluctant to reconnect at all, actually, because I felt more relaxed when I was "offline," but I tiptoed back online, of course, and guess what? No new messages.
I think the best part of being disconnected was being able to just be with my thoughts, or curl up with a book, or have long conversations. These are all things I could do even with Internet access but don't, probably because being online all the time gives me a false sense of being busy, when in fact I'm not accomplishing much at all.
If anything, this challenge has made me want to be more connected to my friends — but offline, in a more traditional way with real stationery, pens and stamps.
When I receive emails or messages from friends, I think to myself, "This lovely message deserves a proper response, but I don't have the time right now. I'll do it later." But then months pass — years sometimes — and life never slows down; "later" never comes.
So for my next challenge, I'm going to try to connect more with some people in my life.
Next time: What if I ... write a letter everyday for one week?
I was really pleased to receive mail from you.
Keiko-san: Yes, I would be willing to take a TOEIC test and see how I score. Maybe you can send me a mock test or help me find one.
Sakata-san: It's great to be a non-smoker, isn't it? Not smelling like cigarette smoke is definitely an advantage. I wish Japan would make smoking indoors illegal. And keep up the good work with your walking regime