Just over one year ago, the great climate blogger David Roberts of Grist (we fondly call him "Dr. Grist" around here, as based on his Twitter name: @DRGrist) announced he was unplugging entirely from the Internet for a year.
"I am burnt the fuck out," he lamented at the time. "I spend each day responding to an incoming torrent of tweets and emails. I file, I bookmark, I link, I forward, I snark and snark and snark. All day long. Then, at night, after my family's gone to bed and the torrent has finally slowed to a trickle and I can think for more than 30 seconds at a stretch, I try to write longer, more considered pieces."
"It's doing things to my brain," he explained. "I've gotten to the point where I'm irritated and impatient with pretty much everything everybody says about anything. And I feel bad about that."
I know the feeling --- including the part about "tweeting in the bathroom".
And with that, a few other related thoughts and explanations of what he'd hoped --- or guessed --- he might do over the next year in his "Goodbye for Now" explanation piece, he promised he'd return a year later, after Labor Day 2014, with a hopefully healed brain and a re-invigorated sense of purpose.
"I'll let you know in a year how it went," he promised at the time. And then he was gone and on his well-deserved, if virtually unheard of, year-long unpaid sabbatical that I've been quietly envious of, on a very regular basis, ever since. If I could figure out how to afford the same, I'd do it. If I could figure out how to afford it for even a month --- hell, I'd take seven uninterrupted days in a row --- I'd do it. I need it.
The very technological innovations that were supposed to have made all of our lives better --- and, still, arguably do --- may also be slowly killing us all and rotting our souls at the same time.
In any event, today, as promised, David Roberts is back on the Internets. Just reading about what he's learned over his year of digital detox, as published today by Outside Magazine, helps calm my own brain and slow my own heart-rate...a bit. It may very well do the same for you.