Skip

We all deserve a data sabbath.
June 7, 2002 4:43 PM   Subscribe

We all deserve a data sabbath. A weekly shunning of modern technology, shopping, and work. Do you observe one?
posted by sheauga (24 comments total)

 
Very nice piece. I really enjoyed it. Alas, for me, as close as I can get to this sort of thing is not blogging on Sat or Sunday. But if I get up early on Saturday and all sleeping, I slip downstair and fill my blog with nothing but babes, mostly topless and many totally nude. It is a change from my regular doings, though, so do I get some credit for this?
posted by Postroad at 5:02 PM on June 7, 2002


I try and use the abacus around Flag Day, I can handle the furrowed brows at the office. In seriousness, I try and use all natural fertilizers and plant food in the yard. So I suppose I adhere to that part of the tech aspect. Of course when the power goes out one could that time toward the week and make a small deduction for flashlites (torches) phones, radios, etc.
posted by clavdivs at 5:16 PM on June 7, 2002


why do i deserve that? am i being punished?
posted by rhyax at 5:30 PM on June 7, 2002


They've got the premise backward. Going on the Internet is a way to take a Sabbath from the real world -- not the other way around.
posted by kindall at 5:32 PM on June 7, 2002


fill my blog with nothing but babes, mostly topless and many totally nude.

*checking Postroad's profile looking for URL*
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:40 PM on June 7, 2002


The Internet's purpose is to make my life more convenient. (Yours too, I'm not greedy.) It's not convenient for me to not be online at strictly defined yet arbitrary times.

Naturally, it *is* a liberating feeling to go into the backyard and play in the mud for a few hours on a Saturday, come back sunburned and wonder where the time went. Punch line is that I'd be even *more* lost as a relatively inexperienced vegetable gardener if I didn't have my computer and the internet to help. Found a nasty infestation of tiny bugs on my broccoli last weekend; would have been quite bothered if I'd've had to wait 24 hours to run a Google search and discover that they were cabbage aphids.

In summary: stepping away from the computer = good; turning it into a religious observation (literal or figurative) = a pain in the ass.
posted by Sapphireblue at 5:59 PM on June 7, 2002


/agree rhyax
posted by rushmc at 6:02 PM on June 7, 2002


rush and rhyax miss the point--

*looking at clock and noting that it's too late for this week*

It might sound paradoxical, but it's a freedom from, not a punishment. On every day, you work. On everyday you worry about your 401(k), your investments, your job security. You consume. You're a perfect cog in the machine of commerce, of working and enjoying the products of your work (by purchasing things).

If you take a data sabbath, you're free from all that stuff. You're actually free to be a person. That's what the data sabbath (and sabbaths in general) are for -- what would life be like if you didn't have to work to live? if you didn't have to worry about the material world at all? Find out. One saturday (or Sunday or whatever) at a time.
posted by zpousman at 6:45 PM on June 7, 2002


I'm an American. I don't work to live. I live to work. It would be like saying way don't you take a break from the visual world and wear a blindfold for a day. Maybe an interesting experiment, but generally just a pain in the ass.
posted by willnot at 7:19 PM on June 7, 2002


for those interested in Postroad's URL, if it is not here, look in search for Fred Lapides....I don't want to be accused of self-advertising etc so I am not posting the URL.
posted by Postroad at 7:54 PM on June 7, 2002


Hm. A year and a half or so ago I got rid of all my computer equipment. For nine months or so I had neither computer nor television at home. It was rather nice. With nothing else to do at home, I avoided boredom by cooking, drawing, playing music, reading, even cleaning, and of course going out more often.

This ended when I took a telecommuting job. Once again I find myself whiling away hours on the 'net doing more or less nothing - that's what I've done tonight, actually. I can see why it would be nice to take a clear day off.

Seeing it as something you do as a way to introduce more variety into your life makes it much more interesting than a mere religious obligation, even if the principle is the same. I suppose the absence of guilt would make my version more fun, if I chose to adopt it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:57 PM on June 7, 2002


From the article: Indulge yourself with one day each week -- a full 24 hours -- to rebalance your life and restore your perspective. No computer or e-mail, no pager or cell phone or telephone, no TV or VCR or movies, no radio or CD player, no Palm Pilot, no technology." Um..."indulging myself" means using my computer, e-mail, cell, TV, radio, PPC (no Palm!), and other technology. Why do some people consider these things to be "dehumanizing" or otherwise wrong/bad/immoral? Also from the article: ...He suggested we go back to some of our earlier operating manuals -- the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist sutras... Sorry, none of those have ever been my "operating manual/s." Finally: You're a perfect cog in the machine of commerce. Sure am - and I love it.
posted by davidmsc at 10:31 PM on June 7, 2002


I'm an American. I don't work to live. I live to work.

I'm an American too, but man, I'd hate to live for my job. If you like things like that, willnot, more power to you, but I'm glad that's not me.

And I'd like a Sabbath from doing the dishes and sweeping up the dog hair, thanks very much.
posted by diddlegnome at 11:45 PM on June 7, 2002


No computer or e-mail, no pager or cell phone or telephone, no TV or VCR or movies, no radio or CD player, no Palm Pilot, no technology

Why limit it to modern technology? What about cars, silverware, books, power tools, clothing with synthetic fibers? Ain't nothing natural about any of them.

I agree with the intent, on weekends we try to spend more time outside doing untech things, but if net surfing, watching a movie or talking to a distant friend on the phone provides relaxation and enrichment, who cares if it requires the use of electrons or not?
posted by groundhog at 3:08 AM on June 8, 2002


> Why limit it to modern technology?

Letters don't let strangers into your home during dinner and don't yell at you to read them. Books don't dictate how you will spend your next two hours, don't tell you when to piss or what to buy and what to read next. Pens don't announce themselves across an auditorium. Yes, to the niggler, everything is a matter of degree and all is technology, but electronic technology actively intrudes into people's lives in a way that older technology does not. If you walk into the woods with a knife and a hat, you are in the woods; if you walk into the woods with a phone and a GPS system, you are still downtown, still at work.
posted by pracowity at 3:33 AM on June 8, 2002


if you walk into the woods with a phone and a GPS system, you are still downtown, still at work

Agreed. I kayak faily often, and have on more than one occasion been amused by other yakkers squinting at a portable GPS, or blabbin' on a cellphone. On the other hand, I've been known to stow my wife's cell (I don't own one myself) for emergency use.

I guess I don't find myself so absorbed with any of the these technologies that I feel a need to hide from them, although I frequently go entire weekends or vacations with little or no usage of them. Obviously, I'm off to a bad start this weekend, it's Saturday and here I am staring at a big square eyeball. Ok everybody, let's go outside!
posted by groundhog at 5:42 AM on June 8, 2002


Letters don't let strangers into your home during dinner and don't yell at you to read them. Books don't dictate how you will spend your next two hours, don't tell you when to piss or what to buy and what to read next. Pens don't announce themselves across an auditorium. Yes, to the niggler, everything is a matter of degree and all is technology, but electronic technology actively intrudes into people's lives in a way that older technology does not.

Well, only if you let it. I mean, you don't have to answer the phone every time it rings, you don't have to answer every e-mail you receive the instant it arrives, you don't have to finish watching a movie on video in an uninterrupted two-hour stretch. Those things are for your convenience, not you for theirs. If they have stopped being convenient for some people, I can see how a "technology Sabbath" could appeal. But wouldn't you have to be pretty dumb to forget that people control technology, rather than the other way around?

If you walk into the woods with a knife and a hat, you are in the woods; if you walk into the woods with a phone and a GPS system, you are still downtown, still at work.

Well, that depends on whether you use a GPS for work, doesn't it? I'd imagine that applies to very few people. And taking a cell phone with you to summon help if you need it (assuming you're in an area with coverage) is just common sense. Otherwise someone has to run for help, which in some circumstances can be the difference between life and death. Possibly yours, if you don't have anyone else with you.
posted by kindall at 5:53 AM on June 8, 2002


> Well, only if you let it.

No, only if others let it. I can go into the woods or out to the coast for the peace and quiet of nature, and others can go to the same places, and we will not disturb one another. But one idiot on a motorbike or jet ski can wreck it for everyone. One cretin letting his cell phone ring drags everyone around him back out of nature and into the city. Modern technology tends to be intrusive upon others, not just the users.

> you don't have to answer the phone every time it rings,

No, you don't. I refuse to even own a cell phone. But too many people do answer phones no matter where they are and what they're doing. They cannot ignore the little gadget in their pocket for the length of one quiet meal or one peaceful drink with a friend.

> you don't have to finish watching a movie on video in an
> uninterrupted two-hour stretch.

You don't have to watch it at all. I don't have a TV. (I swore off it the day they canceled the Dukes of Hazzard.)

> But wouldn't you have to be pretty dumb to forget that
> people control technology, rather than the other way
> around?

Probably you would. People should think about that while they're wasting their lives in traffic for hours a week because they let cars dictate how everything in their lives is arranged and now they can't go anywhere or do anything without them.

> And taking a cell phone with you to summon help

And to never use it otherwise might be consistent with leaving the city, though in a mommy holding your hand sort of way; we're talking about a walk in the woods, not a moon trip. But to use it to check in on the office or make small talk would be a wee bit pathetic. "Yes, dear, we are indeed deep in the woods, far from the concerns of everyday life. Be sure to tape my favorite show for me."
posted by pracowity at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2002


Not everyone agrees that a cell phone in the wilderness is necessarily a bad idea.
posted by verso at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2002


oh, i was just trying to be funny. i get it. but i find people that say i "deserve" something i don't want to be patronizing.

"you really deserve to reevaluate your religious beliefs"

see, pretty annoying huh?

also the anti-technology mindset annoys me. technology is a tool. the idea that not using technology enables you to "actually [be] free to be a person." is silly, i have always been a person, my cell phone does not make me something else.

the suggestion phrased another way, "you need to act more like me, and value the things i value, because if you don't you are less than human" i have no problem at all with people going out in the woods with no cell phone, communing with nature, but really, why are you telling me? do you think i don't know the woods are there, like i have been staying in the city because i forgot rural areas existed? nope, i actually like the city more it turns out, and am capable of making that choice all by myself.
posted by rhyax at 10:24 AM on June 8, 2002


After some thought about both sides of the question, I think I'm more or less with rhyax on the notion of the argument's patronizing tone (the "you deserve..." really frosts me, too) but what bugs me more about the argument is its shallowness and refusal to think about modernity.

It's true that the massive intrusion of data-tech driven distractions into our brainspace is probably, for most of us, something that needs to be combatted. In some limited way a "data sabbath" would probably be good for me, though I note that I've spent the last two weekends traveling to weddings (tons of mod tech involved in those endeavors) and this one visiting my folks, helping them to get ready to move. Should I have said in any one of these occasions "sorry, can't come, gotta keep the technology sabbath!" My observant Jewish friends struggle with this too -- but their reasons for keeping shabbas (sp?) are connected to a tradition and indeed a religious belief that goes well beyond any simple "it'd be good for me to put down the Game Boy and turn off the phone today" formula.

Sorry to go on so long, but here's the point: it's a typically modern mistake to believe that we solve our problems with modernity and its discontents (tech-based and otherwise) by just taking a break from it all. The modern world and its tech distractions and annoyances are in our heads now -- and while a weekend away from the Web might be good for a lot of us, imagining that this gets to the root of the problem is like suggesting that a hyperactive Wall Street trader will find the health of her soul in meditating for an hour every week. It might be a nice idea, but it won't necessarily change the fundamental condition of her existence. The belief that "stopping to smell the roses" will make us all better people is a questionable one, and I certainly don't like to see it delivered with so much sanctimony.
posted by BT at 1:13 PM on June 8, 2002


what would life be like if you didn't have to work to live?

Oh, I'm investigating that little question much more seriously and at much greater depth than a once-a-week sabbatical.

As to technology vs. physical activity, etc., as with most things I believe that moderation and balance produce the healthiest results. Not that I always achieve them, mind you, but that's the goal.
posted by rushmc at 3:16 PM on June 8, 2002


It wasn't easy to convey my patronizing shallowness and my refusal to grapple with modernity in less than two lines. Luckily I've found a crew capable of appreciating it. Otherwise this might have read: "It is an inalienable human right to unplug from the datasphere-- yes or no?"
posted by sheauga at 6:22 PM on June 8, 2002


haha, sheauga. i didn't really think you meant it that way, that's why i didn't say anything at first, sorry i cracked under the pressure :P

oh, and your come-back sarcasm is hilarious :D
posted by rhyax at 3:54 PM on June 9, 2002


« Older Atomic blast licence plates   |   Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post