As the day draws to a close, and I look back at how my first day in my New-Committed-For-Life art project “Being Offline Is My Art” went, I think I would label it:
In particular because the difficult parts I expected, were not the actual difficult parts.
Sure, there were the drawback effects of realizing how often you grab your phone to open your email or social media.
And there were the blissful pure parts of the day where I had heightened awareness of everything around me.
Something I attribute entirely to not being on a digital drip the entire day. Of not having my awareness sucked into what I call “The Matrix’.
So that was the difficult part but also the benefit which I kind of expected.
But where I slipped were the online moments. Like this message I am currently typing here, straight into the Facebook box;
“Officially” I vowed to prepare all my emails, social media posts, in a separate Word file.
And to go in copy-paste and post. Although with emoticons, finding a picture and so on, it is not that clear-cut.
But the idea was pretty simple:
1. Type, prepare “offline” (on a not interactive software)
2. And then just go in to post.
I can tell you that works great for email.
But really knocks the fun out of typing messages like this, or composing a tweet or shorter message which I will do later tonight for my Daily Bon Jovi Yoga project
If I want to keep this up, I have to give myself some slack and be generous in what I call “offline”.
Maybe you could even call it a project in practicing being offline. Not an outcome of being offline/online for an x amount of minutes.
At least not for starters.
So that was one practicality where things did not go as planned. Preparing work “offline” (meaning on a non-interactive medium) is painstaking and no fun, and only works for emails.
In particular because my spelling check in Outlook is broken, so the emails have never looked better now that they’re made in Word.
But there was something else…
Other than the humility lesson that “being offline” is more “practicing being offline” or “brave attempt to be less addicted and constantly checking my phone”.
The other thing was that the “offline” work time, so using other non-interactive websites or software, still drained me….
I had expected tonight would be totally different than I had been feeling the rest of the week!
That the anxiety that often haunts me, the restless energy that seems to build up during the evening because I m always on my computer, would be less now that I did not use interactive media.
Now that I had avoided a lot of checking and browsing, and had already had my peaceful blissful moments as a payoff, I was SURE the evenings would be swell!
I feel just as “hit-by-a-truck how the fuck did I get myself into this?” as I always do around this time.
Just as “Oh, and then I still have to do yoga too…” wondering why I didn’t do that at a moment when I could still keep my eyes open.
So those were the very down to earth aspects of my first day of this new lifestyle “Being offline is my art”.
And yet, as humble these beginnings were, they did give me enough to start understanding why this is indeed an art project, and not a lifestyle choice.
It’s not digital minimalism.
It’s not a productivity tip.
It’s not me trying to overcome an internet addiction.
Because just like people who live in a time-capsule, f.e. a house in the 19th century style, I do feel how this untethers me from modern culture.
I quit Netflix months ago, which is not an interactive medium at all, but I just didn’t like the endless possibilities it offered.
That was already a big step for me, because I liked being there. Liked watching what everybody else watched, or at least having that readily available.
I have written a lot about popular culture over the years, and although much was from the 80s 90s, I ve always gone through phases when what I wrote was more contemporary.
Like my Sex and the City phase, Vampire Diaries phase, and I watched all available episodes of Stranger Things and Lucifer.
When I quit Netflix, I knew I untied myself from that…
That I would not be writing about contemporary popular culture anymore which made me kind of sad.
But today, the first day of practicing being offline, was a deepening of that.
It was a realization that I was cutting myself off from normal everyday society. And that it had been inevitable.
That I had always known solitude and being solitary was my path.
Not in the yoga sense of meditating and turning inward and connecting with God.
I had not cut myself off from the digital world for spiritual reasons, at least not that clear.
Going offline is part of choosing art, the creation of it, and choosing to have a limited number of sources and input from others.
In particular input from non-personal sources, things you encounter because you’re on the internet.
Hence: I don’t see them anymore.
I interact with other people (yes)
I investigate topics, I watch dvd’s, and I will also chat/ attend live streams.
But I will not be attending and interacting and going after, everything that catches my eye and interest.
What I make and write will inevitably be far less relatable than it has been.
And even the process will be different:
I ve been writing since 2006 under pen name, but always with all tabs open.
As I was typing, internet was my window at the world.
I’ve closed my digital work studio, where I have been having my adventures for the past 15 years and saying:
I live offline. I ve moved my art studio.
When I m online I am a tourist.
I am no longer a resident online, and not an employee with an online office.
I am no longer dating online either, although I stopped that in 2010 officially.
But I simply will not be online to build a relationship and meet people that way.
I have left the crowded squares, the public buildings, and now I am in a large spacious room. I don’t know where, but I assume it’s where all art comes from:
That I am in the world between worlds.
And I ve taken my place at the table.
Suzanne L. Beenackers
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