Read this essay by Craig Mod in Wired about his long, mostly tech-free, walk across Japan. Reading it inspired me to take a long walk on the nearby riverfront trail last night and to leave my phone pocketed the whole time. Like Mod did, kind of:
I set very strict rules for this walk. The first set of rules limited my inputs. I would use only a tiny sliver of the internet. In practice this meant going cold turkey on all social networks and most news and media sites. I used a piece of blocking software on my phone and laptop called Freedom. I created a blocklist in Freedom and named it “THE PHONE IS A TOOL YOU DUMMY.” It prevented me from opening The New York Times app or Twitter or Facebook, virtual spaces all too easy to fall back into when approximately three seconds of boredom enter your frame.Craig Mod, “The Glorious, Almost-Disconnected Boredom of My Walk in Japan”
But here’s what occurred to me during my own walk: I hadn’t read the essay. I’d listened to it on Audm, an app that plays long form magazine articles, audiobook style. Audiobooks were a no-no on Mod’s walk.
What’s more, I learned about Audm from John Dickerson, one of the hosts of Slate’s “Political Gabfest” podcast. The app was his “cocktail chatter” at the end of the episode two weeks ago. That’s another thing Mod banned from his ambulation: podcasts.
This is the realization that came over me leaning on the rails of the Foster Avenue bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River, that the inspiration for this moment of tech-free leisure owed its existence to the interaction of at least two artifacts of internet tech.
Maybe one of the things technology can be good at is getting us away from technology?