Luxury to disconnect

March 21, 2021

There are vast parts of the world that are yet to be connected to the Internet. Some more have very slow Internet connection. Then there are few who have, what some call, fast Internet connection.

There is so much that needs to be done to get some people connected. Community networks such as Zenzeleni are doing an incredible job at connecting regions that are not served by telecom providers.

But what about the rest? What about those who have fast Internet connection? How are we doing? Do we feel calm? Or are we drowning in anxiety?

How does it feel when you jump from one call to another? From one platform to another. Back to back calls. Is this the kind of Internet usage we want? Do we wanted to be (Inter)connected 24/7 but not feel connected to our surroundings?

Then there is speed. Feeling annoyed that the download is too slow or that the video is buffering for too long. Think of the people in the first category. They don’t have this possibility yet. In our quest for speed, we sometimes fall short in our appreciation of what we have.

Not everyone is getting anxious because we have to join yet another video call. Some of us are able to slow things down, choose what we do, and how we do them. We can choose not to join yet another social network platform. We can avoid the fear of missing out when we do not check our Twitter feeds incessantly. We can put aside electronic devices when we don’t need to use them. Hours before we head to bed for a good night’s sleep.

If you identify with the last paragraph, remember you are not the norm. We have the possibility to be idle during our personal time. We have no qualms about not being productive during the weekends. We are also the people who would comfortably reject invitations to social gatherings if they did not excite us. Maybe some of us prioritize higher quality work that comes with long hours of focus without distraction.

Are you missing out on long periods of focus? Paul Graham wrote an essay on how makers and managers spend time. Long story short, makers spend long hours of focused attention on a specific task. Think of writers, coders, and artists. Managers use time slots for meetings and calls. They often react to events if something goes wrong.

A maker who works on a manager’s schedule with short slots would not achieve much. More importantly, they also feel exhausted at the end of the day. Switching tasks is exhausting. For a maker, it feels like doing a lot while not getting anything done.

As many are using the Internet every waking hour of their lives, we are forcing many makers into managers’ schedule.

Although many do not have the choice to connect, there are others who do not have the choice to disconnect. For those of us who have the choice to connect and to disconnect, lets recognize the luxury we have. A luxury not many can claim to have. A luxury, that does not necessarily correlate with material wealth.