And it’s easier to avoid what is, to many, a very painful truth: Going offline is no longer a realistic option. Sure, we can unplug for an hour, a day, or even a week, but it’s not like you can permanently shut off the challenges of our online existence. The offline world is now utterly defined by networks, too, from the pace of our work to the flow of our money. You can look up from the screen, but there is no way to escape the digital.
What you can do is find those qualities of presence, focus, and even solitude in your networked existence. Call it the new unplugging: a way to step back from the rush and din of the Internet, and approach our time online with the same kind of intention and integrity we bring to our best offline interactions.
The new unplugging doesn’t require you to quit Facebook or throw out your iPhone. What it requires is careful attention to the sources of our discomfort; to the challenging qualities of online interaction, or of simply living in a networked world. Looking at those pain points, and finding a way to switch them off, is the new unplugging.