Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Unplugged: Does No Technology Mean a More "Real" Life?

I have always thought the idea of Unplugging oneself is something I would like to try. I had no idea there was a whole day dedicated to it. An article found on The Real World Magazine from The New Yorker talks about this day and “The Pointlessness of Unplugging”. The whole point of an unplugged day is to abstain from using technology. Such as: Phone, tables, computers and televisions.  One thing I would like to point out is the absurdity of the picture with the article, and the self portraits linked through the article. If the women unplugs to knit then why in the world is there a camera being used during her unplugged day? Wouldn't this be a breach from the abstinence of no technology?

When reading the article I was really struck by one passage:

“Many submitted self-portraits to Reboot holding explanations of why they chose to unplug: “to be more connected,” “to reset,” “to spend more time with my family,” “so my eye will stop twitching,” “to bring back the beauty of life,” “to be in the moment.” Not so long ago, those very reasons (except, maybe, for the eye-twitching) would have explained why many took to the devices that they were now unplugging: to connect with old friends, to talk with family across the world, to see beautiful places and curious creatures through photographs and documentaries, to relax for a few moments with music.”

I was intrigued with the idea that we used to associate ‘getting more connected’ and ‘resetting’ with our technology usage. I can’t deny it. I think that some used to feel Facebook was a way to get connected but now it feels more like an obligation. Television is considered a thing to be unplugged from and I think a lot of Americans used this in order to wind down after a day at work, but now ads and commercials have taken over and made TV watching become filled with anxiety.

The article then goes on to talk about the “real” world. Stating that there is a “real” and fake world “suggests that the selves we are online aren't authentic, and that the relationships that we forge in digital spaces aren't meaningful”.  If our online selves are not authentic then how do Search Committees for Job Openings decide that our online persona is that same as our “real” life persona? They can do this because our online and “real” self are the same. They exist within the same world. There is no internet me and real me both are the same. Perhaps I role play online, it is still internet/real me committing to the role I am acting out.

I really liked that they article questions this. Because unplugging may bring you some relief, but when you turn all your devices back on how much will you have missed from your supposed “fake” life? Perhaps you missed a deadline at work and got an email about it. Maybe (god forbid) someone you loved got in a car accident and you missed the phone call. We are no longer able to unplug from our online selves to be more “real”, our online and real personas are melded together.


  1. I completely agree with the fact that checking social media nowadays is more of an obligation. Simply unplugging a phone or tablet or computer won't make you any less of a user of that type of media.

  2. Your conclusion is so Baudrillaudian-- in that first we have our "real" life and then we have our "fake" life online, but now the two lives have merged. This merging is evident in your article; we can't unplug because that social media life continues or our work life continues despite if we look attend to it or not. The line between these lives are so blurred that we can't "shut off" either one without having some kind of stress or anxiety about missing something. We have a serious case of the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

  3. I wonder if that online life was really "fake" to begin with. I mean, everything that someone puts up there is an extension of themselves in one way or another. Whether it is who they are, how they want to be, a representation of something they have never really done or a place they have never really been, they have made the choice to put it up there. I think that that says something about them psychologically. Of course these are their "real" selves. They just have a fantasy platform to put their ideal selves on. We can read this as an ideal, I suppose, rather than a complete self, and then if just becomes a part of the whole.


Need to add an image? Use this code: < b > [ img ] IMAGE-URL-HERE [ /img ] < /b > (make sure you have no spaces anywhere in the code when you use it)