Digital Sabbaticals and Simple Computing

by Frank Martin

Ever since I heard about minimalism, the idea of a weekly tech sabbath has held a certain attraction for me. A day when technology is set aside, the Internet is turned off, cell phones are used to make and receive calls or turned off completely, and the TV, if one is in the home, is left off, holds a certain attraction for a lot of people, myself included. Tammy Strobel has engaged in the practice regularly, at one point even going so far as to take an internet sabbatical, staying off the web except to check e-mail once a week for an entire month a year or two ago. A couple weeks ago, I decided to finally bite the bullet and start taking a weekly internet sabbath. So what did I do instead of surfing YouTube and wandering Facebook?
Friday evening I turned my computer off entirely and headed out to the movie theater with my older brother, mom, and aunt, to see Bernie, Jack Black’s new comedy. If you haven’t already, grab a friend, hop on Fandango for tickets, and go. You won’t regret it. Black portrays Bernie BRILLIANTLY, and the movie gives him plenty of excuses to display his vocal talents. The man can sing beautifully, and not just pop rock.
The next morning I headed off to yoga, spending just over an hour engaging in one of the best forms of exercise I have yet come across. If you think yoga is just for women, give it a go, its looks easier than it is.
After yoga I headed over to the local farmer’s market to do a bit of shopping and have a late breakfast/early lunch of some of the most delicious vegetable quasedillas you’ve never tasted. I love the market because its open air, and you get a direct connection with where your food comes from. In all likelihood the guy (or gal) manning the stand is the one that harvested those carrots this morning, and they’re perfectly willing to chat and answer any questions. Plus I can just about guarantee you that those veggies weren’t doused in chemicals at some point.
When I got home I spent some time reading, did a bit of body-weight exercise off and on, enjoyed a cup of tea mid afternoon and ate dinner at my kitchen table before climbing in bed and reading for a bit before bed. Certainly not a productive day in the traditional sense, but certainly restorative and enjoyable. In a culture that’s become so focused on productivity, its nice to slow down and take a break once in a while. If you haven’t done so before, I highly recommend taking an internet sabbath this weekend. I promise Facebook will still be there tomorrow, and if the world ends, I’m pretty sure a friend or family member will be  willing to let you know.

While we’re on the subject of the intersection of technology and minimalism, I thought I’d share my set-up with you all. That beauty in the picture up top is a MacBook running OS 10.6. I’ve got it set so nothing shows on the desktop, the dock is hidden in the lower left hand corner, and the only icons in the menu bar are Bluetooth (for my wireless mouse), battery status, and wireless internet. The beautiful desktop image that’s a bit washed out in this photo is courtesy of Tammy over at Rowdy Kittens. If you subscribe to free updates she sends out a desktop image each weekend and they’re all beautiful photos she’s taken. I went without a mouse, using the trackpad exclusively for a while, but found I like having one when I’m at my desk, so dug it out of the morass of stuff at my parent’s house. Not exactly a gaming rig, but it does what I need it to.