I used to do it. Kind of. When Molly was in London, and I was down in the South West, Saturday would be the day where I didn’t connect to the internet or go on my laptop. Yes, I’d text Molly infrequently. But for most of the day I was unplugged.
I got a glimpse of the benefits. The power of denarration. Of hearing less words. Of confronting my own thoughts, not those fed to me by my curated selection of media. But I never did the full 24 hours without phone or laptop.
Whenever I’d raise that as a possibility Molly would always say, “But what if something happens? What if someone needs to get hold of you?” And she had a point.
One of the virtues of constant connectivity is that the transmission of information is instantaneous. If a loved one is in trouble I can be informed of it instantly. But just because something can happen doesn’t mean that I should allow it to happen.
The scenarios Molly worried about were of a single type. The bad type. Namely, someone being seriously injured, in trouble or dying.
The problem I have with this type of thinking—that you must stay connected just in case something bad happens and you need to be contacted—is simple. I’m twenty five years old. I can count on one hand the times something bad has happened. Which means that the rest of the time, the other 99.999999% of my life, nothing bad has happened that I’ve needed to be instantly aware of.
The extension of this line of thought, of the stay-connected-just-in-case mindset, means that I would spend 99.999999% of my time worried about the 0.0000001%.
That doesn’t sound good to me. I want to be able to go for twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six hours without looking at a screen or refreshing my inbox. I want to be able to go off the grid for weeks at a time. I understand the consequences of that desire. In that time, many, many bad things could happen. My mum could die in a car crash. My dad could have a heart attack. My sister could break her leg. Any other member of my family or friendship group could fall ill. Our dog could need to be put down.
Those scenarios scare me. I don’t want to miss out on the chance to say one last goodbye to someone I love, or to stand with someone as they fight a terrible situation. But there’s something I don’t want to happen even more than those things. I don’t want to live my life as a prisoner of possibility. As a slave to all the bad things that could happen to the people I care about.
And it’s for that reason that I have to write these uncomfortable words. It’s for that reason that I have to be okay with the possibility that, during a tech sabbath, something bad might happen. Someone might die. I don’t like it. I don’t want it to happen. But I accept it. And I refuse to let that possibility dictate how I live my life.