The Technological Single-arity

Over the past week I did something of an experiment: I gave up instant messaging. One of my favorite ways to explore my own habits and my own willpower is to give things up. For example, at the beginning of the week I also gave up my car for a few days, and that helped me learn that taking the bus to work and back isn’t all so bad. In short, I like giving things up.

Giving up instant messaging wasn’t too hard; it didn’t take a lot of willpower to just sign out and not click the sign in button for a few days. All I missed was the feeling that somehow I was “in the loop,” but even that passed after a few days.

I mainly did this experiment to see if being a little more bored (not talking to people) and a little less tied down to the computer would lead me to do anything differently.  I was changing the incentives:  e-mail is more exciting when you’re away from the computer a little while so you have a chance to accumulate a few.  I don’t think this worked as well as I would have hoped, but it did work.  I ended up doing a little more reading and being a little better on chores.  I didn’t end up going out more and seeking out new experiences and new people, which is what I thought might happen.

In any case, I’m back on IM now, though I may be on less than I was.  Giving it up was overall a positive experience but there are a few people I chat with that I missed terribly.  I grew up chatting online and had given it up for a great number of years, and things are very different now than they were 10 years ago.  Technology marches on.


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