Digital Detox (sort of)
I have spent the last 72 hours in the Highlands of Scotland and I have thoroughly loved dropping out of the Twitter, Discord, Twitch (repeat) grind. Mostly.
It's true that the highlands are no longer the connectivity equivalent of a Trump immigration decree but, the internet still has to sneak in at night, dodging mountains, dense forests and apathetic mobile coverage (insert National Guard and 'Wall' reference here). You can still get connected but where I was staying, it was deliciously, frustratingly patchy. On Saturday, it took me half a day to realise my morning Discord message had not been delivered as I had placed my phone on the wrong side of the cabin, therefore allowing it to fall victim to the signal event-horizon generated by the dense conifer tree-line nearby. This mobile data equivalent of banging my head off a brick wall meant I soon cared less and less about Twitter updates and the rolling dramas of online groups. I began to care less about being up to date.
The draws to care were there however- a good number of friends and stream team members were at PAX East, testing new games and generally having an awesome time. Thankfully I caught DJTruthsayer's stream, showing off an alpha version of Memories of Mars before my self imposed digital exile, which was top of my viewing list. But I confess I did (just once) half-heartedly try to view Twitch on my mobile app. I was like an addict having their first real test, half crumbling and breathing a sigh of relief when my Twitch narcotic, making me sweat and shake, turned out to be the baking powder of an unresponsive app and nothing more. I passed the test (sort of) and after 24 hours of crappy internet access, I was clean and clear.
So I have returned home and am now sat at my computer. My phone has been buzzing like a maniac as all the apps under the sun greedily consume premium WiFi access and update themselves to the best, shiniest version available. I have been able to finally check up on that visa application I made for my son that I was worrying about (the aforementioned Donald agrees he can go on holiday to the US of A later this year - yay!), I have poked my finances about to look (if not actually be) healthier and have corresponded with the musician creating a piece of music for my stream. It has been good to get stuff done. It's equally frightening to realise just how much stuff I need to do online.
And that leads me nicely to my conclusion:
Taking time away from the digital life has been long overdue. It is very easy when creating online content to be constantly thinking about your next stream, your next video, your online presence, Twitter announcements, SEO, link-backs, meetings and trying to be in the right place at the right time and on point for the next big thing (tm) - FOMO! It wasn't until I stepped away, I realised how oppresive the routine can get. This is an exercise I am going to repeat and I would heartily prescribe all my content-creator friends to have at least 48 hours back-to-back digital disconnection. Every week is not reasonable for those who rely on their stream or channel as their main income and I know I couldn't manage it with my other life commitments. But if I (and you?) can do it at least once a month, I think we'll feel the benefits. So, take a moment away from those WiFi hotspots, stick your phone in airplane mode, breathe deeply, smile and let your mind wander. You'll come back fighting fit and ready to tear up that inbox of opportunity that has amassed in your absence.