Digital Detox Sicily

For the next few weeks, I may be dredging up some writing that has been shelved  as I tried to get in the right headspace.  Or I may not.  .  .

{September 2013} It's been a while.  Last spring, the Professor and I  realized that our computers and phones and apps were intravenously dripping into our daily existence. What was once a lovely symbiotic relationship [i.e. we could turn off/respond whenever we wanted], had become the clichè of photo realism documentation through a never-ending conversation of paths, tweets, grams, vines and any other word you can think that used to have normal street significance.   We had become parasites on the mothership of connectivity and we wanted out. We wanted off.  We wanted Sicily.

Why  Sicily and why one month?  Since antiquity, Sicily has been the Island of Abundance: a diverse terrain of beaches, rocks, hills, mountains, volcanoes, mini-islands, autostrade and dirt roads, an overflowing platter of sfincione, arancine, caponata, ricci, brioche con gelato, granita, pesce and panelle, and full daysand evenings of  hiking, horse back riding, car racing, art, archaeology, Caravaggio, Romans and Greeks.  Sicily encompasses everything we love and how we want to live- fresh food, fresh air and a necessary slow pace.  One week, hell, even one month is not enough.  But that was all we had, a month out of  Dodge.  The Professor's dig was dug, children's activities were no longer, Rome was hot, we found a cheap place to rent, and Trenitalia offered cheap night train tickets.  And secretly, where better could we go for a digital detox?

Digital Detoxnoun,informal: a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world:

break free of your devices and go on a digital detox

The question was Could we do it?  Could we stop checking our email, stop looking at Instagram, stop responding on Twitter, and just turn off for more than a few hours?  Realistically, no.  There was just some shit that just needed to be done: summer homework assignments, article submissions, a Keynote presentation, job interview, donor outreach, calls, calls and more calls.  And there were some things that we wanted to do, like read Night Film, research Etna and make sure to pick up my sister at Punta Raisi, whenever she decided to show up.  Since Sicily has sporadic 3G coverage, digital detox was primarily decided by the island, but an anorexic connectivity was decided by us with the investment in a not-so-fast-nor-big mi-fi device that limited how much time we were allowed on the internet.  In other words, absolutely rare downloads, no films, Facetime and Skype calls of necessity, and a strong commitment to not connect.

Did we unplug?  Yes.  We cooked, ate, invented, swam, fought, played, paused, hung out and visited a lot of amazing places.  All the same things we always do, but taking our time to be in the moment, as opposed to simply taking a photo. (Yes, we did that too).  And most importantly, I read.  I read more books in four weeks than I had from January to June.  Along with Night Film, I read and re-read a bunch of books including Ghana Must Go, A Visit from the Good Squad,Super Sad True Love Story, A Song of Ice and Fire series, 22 JD Salinger short stories, a bunch of arty-spy-WWII novel and F. Scott Fitzgerald tales, and pretty much anything else that was left in my Kindle. [Please note the slight dystopian/digital post apocalypse them as in the Egan and Schteyngart novels.]  To be honest, I had forgotten how much I loved reading, which makes me realise that is probably why I had forgotten to love writing.

Yes, this detox was much more than unplugging from our addiction to digital communication.  It was about reminding myself what I liked, not just "liked".

IMG_1456 (1)

IMG_1456 (1)

For a glimpse into our days in Sicily, here's my spur-of-the-moment Sicilia flipagram I created with mini-e.  Forgive the spelling, I was in a rush to take my time and have lunch.