All right, this off-topic and not the sort of thing I usually write, but may be of use to some people.

Oddly despite being “very online” I’m sort of a luddite about certain things. I didn’t have a smart phone till 2015 (and at the time had no cell phone). A friend gave me my first one, and my second is a very nice hand-me down Pixel 4 from another friend.

As a rule I don’t take my phone with me when I go out. I get by on cards. Of course, sometimes I need my phone or a laptop, especially when traveling, but otherwise, they’re not on me.

I do this because I want periods when I’m not online, and not available to anyone. In particular, I often hang out at coffee shops and unless I have specific work I want to do, I don’t take any electronic devices with me except my e-reader. I often pack some paper books and a writing pad, and that’s it. I take notes on paper, and keep the notebooks.

I find this relaxing. It’s nice to not be online and it’s easiest if the device isn’t even with me: if it is, I may think “I should check…” and get sucked in. It’s simply a matter of making a habit unavailable. There’s rarely anything in my life so urgent it can’t wait a few hours.

Of course, I’m in my 50s. I grew up before cell phones. I remember before answering machines, even, and when pagers were rare and only truly essential, 24 hour on-call workers carried them.

I’m used to being out of touch. In a sense, I’m used to being alone. You can be very alone, even when surrounded by people in a big city, if you want to be, and I often do.

The studies are clear: social media is bad for you, and the more you do the worse it is. Being constantly connected, I’m almost certain, is likewise bad for you. You need space, you need time with your own feelings and thoughts when they’re not being jerked around. And if you want to think well, you need time to think alone as well in addition to time to think with other people.

This is, I guess, more of the sort of article written in lifestyle magazines and sections “how I spent 1 week unplugged” and whatnot, but I really do believe it’s healthy and if you can do it, you’ll find, once you get over the twitchy need to constantly check your phone or watch videos, or whatever you do, that it’s relaxing. It’s also a necessity for any sort of deep thinking.