The Power of Digital Disconnect
We have two days left of our 12 Days of Giving sale! Receive a 35% discount on all print and ebooks when you enter Winter2016 at checkout and hit the redeem button. Now those instructions will in some ways contradict today's blog post from Christina Crook's book, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World.
In The Joy of Missing Out, Christina asks us to rethink our relationship with the digital world. By examining the connected world through the lens of her own internet fast Christina creates a convincing case for increasing conventionality and being more present in our day-to-day lives. With our first snowstorm in three years having just passed, I was reminded of the following piece from Christina's book, because although our power did not go out, the only place my son wanted to be was out in the snow, all devices quickly forgotten in the rush to enjoy the snow day.
Today's post is an excerpt from the first pages of the book, when Christina's family experiences a power outage and in the process inadvertently discover the quiet joys of disconnecting. With candeleight, snow, songs and family it has #hygge written all over it!
Let me begin with a story.
In a darkened room, a small family gathers. The house is silent except for the padding of stocking feet, the murmur of voices. They sit around a small collection of candles while their father strikes a match. The children’s eyes dance with wonder at the flame. Normally, this family would flip a switch. In electric-lit halls, they’d walk with intention, but this night they were left without light.
It was their first power outage. No anomaly in this city. A storm was coming, the neighbors had said. The parents had laughed it off, standing on the deck hours earlier. They knew the evening’s calm. This night would be no different.
They’d just put their youngest child to bed when the house surged into a liquid lull, blackness filling the cavernous living room like a pot of coffee poured out cold. They went in search of the lone flashlight, the one plugged in the wall near the sliding back door. The outward glow of the moon seeped in like a hum and led their hands to the handheld device saved just for such an occasion.
Soon, neighbors began their rounds, knocking on doors, trading candles and beers. Little clusters of candlelight sprung up on front steps. Cheer and laughter spilled out of doors, across darkened pavement, well into the night.
In a town a few miles away, another family is readying for bed. Lantern light fills the rooms as they go about their nighttime
routine. Each person steps to the sink, brushes their teeth, scrubs their face. Singing their evening songs, they follow the lantern up stairs to change into their pajamas, though their feet know the steps by rote. It’s too dark to read the storybooks now, but the shrieks, laughter and conversations continue as thick blankets are pulled back and little bodies scamper into bed. Parents sing prayers and cuddle up with the youngest as they fall asleep. Day has ended, the fire downstairs is dimming, and soon all will be quiet. Husband and wife gather close in their bed. Tomorrow, at dawn, the day will begin again with the same rhythms.
Back in the city, the family wakes to the groans of a garbage truck lumbering by. Otherwise, it’s eerily quiet: no music, no coffee brewing. The old floor boards creak with every step as the first member begins their descent to the living room. Soon everyone is up.
A breakfast of yogurt and cereal is cobbled together in ceramic bowls. Everyone bundles up into snow suits and spends the morning climbing snow banks and careening down on sleds. Afterwards, hands wrap around mugs of hot chocolate (as luck would have it, the gas stove is still working), and dusty board games are tugged down from the shelf. The last phone screen goes black as the remaining power drains out.
The day moves slowly, until it is evening again and everyone is back in their pajamas gathered on the living room floor. The four-year-old daughter pipes up and says what everyone else is thinking:
“Today was a really good day.”