Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I ought to have had my photograph pasted alongside the entry for ‘workaholic’ in the Oxford dictionary years ago. We compete with our classmates as children, burn midnight oil trying to outwit entire campuses as teenagers and bask in the glory of eighteen Watt fluorescent tubes to take on the world as adults.
I did it all to the tee, and that’s when I happened to stumble across Susan Maushart’s winter of disconnect in an article shared ironically through a tweet. For six months in 2009, she and her children unplugged everything with a screen. They began to read the newspaper, her son rediscovered his saxophone, they went to the movies and her daughters even co-wrote a novel.
While I couldn’t afford the luxury of a winter of disconnect at the risk of running an e-commerce business by paper, I could afford at least one day a week without a screen. I picked my Fridays and christened them screen-frei-days, although they sometimes spill over to Saturdays. ‘Frei’ may seem a bit formal – it’s German for free – but it has a better ring to it than screen-free-days.
In the last three months alone, I’ve rediscovered my love of writing, picked up where I left off on barre chords and begun to read twice as much in print – the last, more for typographic gratification than the fact that it doesn’t involve a screen. It’s funny how after waging a battle against print media for your entire career – and let’s be honest, it’s an unspoken part of every online advertiser’s induction – that I’ve realized I’m far happier reading works in print.
If you’ve never had a winter of disconnect or wished you had the time to rediscover all those failed new year resolutions, it’s never too late to discover your own screen-frei-day.