Michael Harris’ The End of Absence: Reclaiming what we've lost in a world of constant connection come out this week, and to mark its publication, Penguin is doing something pretty brilliant: sponsoring something they call Analog August. So what is it?
Analog August is a way to engineer solitude and quiet in a world that’s become addicted to constant connections.
It’s not anti-technology—it’s pro-people. We’re giving ourselves a trip to the brain spa in order to rediscover the quiet joys of solitary walks, face-to-face relations, and a good book.
Here’s their advice about how to do it:
Remember you’re going offline on purpose. You might feel stressed at first, but it’s all part of the process of your summer digital detox. Return to something akin to the technological circumstances from your childhood. Reclaim what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection with these recommendations:
- Alert all of your family members and close friends.
- Turn your Wi-Fi/4G off.
- Turn on an email out-of-office–and resist the urge to check it!
- Log out of all social media.
- Re-record your voicemail message (remember those?).
- No self-congratulatory Facebook status updates about going offline.
- No Instagram photos of your pets, babies, engagement rings, or desserts.
- No self-diagnosis of pneumonia or pink eye on Mayoclinic.org.
- Take off the weird bracelet that tracks your sleep patterns.
- No 36 texts to set up plans with a friend.
- Take a hike! Navigate with a paper map.
This is good, but it’s also important to remember that our attention and old, Tolstoy-reading brains don’t just reawaken when we turn off devices (though I love the fact that War and Peace is one of the books Penguin will send you if you buy Harris’ book and sign up for Analog August).
As I explained in this piece, it’s better to think of this not in terms of negative time— i.e., a period defined by an absence of devices and connections— but rather as a positive time— an opportunity to do different, engaging things that you don’t normally make room for, and to practice slowing down your sense of time.
As one of the people I interviewed for my book put it, it’s amazing how much time you have when you don’t divide it into 30-second chunks.