Our Surroundings: Unplugged


September 13, 2011, Washington, DC: I'm going through a phase where everything seems very measured. Not in a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race sort of way, but in an everything-feels-over-calculated sort of way. It's getting on my nerves. Remember playing in the park and spending time just dawdling before our phones got so smart? Before we had phones? When maybe we had a big day, won a three-legged race, and nobody posted it on Facebook? One goal of this project is to make sure I'm looking up and around, appreciating people and places in the physical world in addition to spending time in only in its virtual counterpart. But it's not easy. I know how far I've run this year thanks to Nike GPS. I know how many people have clicked on my blog today thanks to my iPhone app. I know how many calories I've burned and in how many rides thanks to my Bikeshare account. And I know how many emails have popped into my inboxes (yes, plural) because the number appears on my phone, prompting me to open them too many times a day simply to delete and make the numbers disappear.

Don't get me wrong. There are things I love about the ability to measure my progress on bike, on foot, on the blog. But I don't need to know about all of them, in real time, all the time. I recently removed Facebook from my phone and my email is soon to follow, just as a temporary test, I think, until I can break the habit of spending too much time hunched over that Smartphone. The phone is a genius, really, but there's no reason to spend all day with it.

So if you see me slowing down, it's part of a concerted effort to less obsessively measure and document all this simply for the sake of checking things off the list. Pursuing this project will continue to be a challenge in striking a balance, between seeing something through bit by bit and becoming overly conscious of how far I've inched toward my goals. So enough for today. I won't be checking my email tonight. I won't see right away that you've commented or clicked on this post. I don't already know what you did this afternoon because I haven't checked Facebook. I'll see what else I see out there this evening and soak up this place, these people, this wide and wonderful world.