In Darkness Find Freedom

Given the Independence Day holiday, let’s discuss a modern freedom that comes with going dark on the Internet.

turn off your phone.

Image by Anna Douglass

I’ve been enjoying a vacation for the past few days, in large part because I don’t feel the need to be online.

Electing to go dark for extended stints has been hard. There were emails I wanted to respond to, updates to post, and conversations that seemed interesting and worth joining.

Social media provides a shot of dopamine every time we update, fueling addictive online behavior.

Scientists also say the downside to online all the time includes fitful sleeping (yes), depression, and blurred boundaries between home and work life.

More and more people elect to go dark at times. There are even official turn off your screen days now across the world.

Going cold turkey was too hard for me. I popped online a few times in spite of myself.

I triaged a couple of social networks that “needed” updates, posted a couple of pics, discussed the big DC storm, fed the blog beast, and responded to time-bound work emails. I even booked a trip to Louisville for my first day back from vacation (boo!).

Path remains my primary place to visit for casual updates, and get my dopamine fix. There’s no clientele or family members, and a limited number of known people that provide a sense of safety. I have no need to be “on” when hanging out on Path.

But for the most part, I have remained dark. I even turned email off on my iPhone for long stretches of time.

And I love it.

There’s a great sense of freedom that comes with not letting people know what you’re doing, not responding to comments, and frankly, not eating my daily quota of snarky remarks. Comfort comes with knowing that Mark Zuckerberg and his Silicon Valley competitors will “not own” my whereabouts thanks to a check-in at The Container Store.

Breathing seems easier now.

Downtime in the social era has become “dark-time.” All public play, and no dark-time to run free makes for a dull boy.

With that, back to freedom, back to a few more days of blissful darkness with the occasional streak across the social lawn.

Do you enjoy dark-time?

P.S. Happy Fourth of July!