I have a blogging challenge going with Dan Slee. It’s fairly straightforward. We each have to blog every day. Or there is a forfeit.
I may have hit the forfeit on day four. Because I am staying in a delightful holiday cottage in West Wales. It has no internet connection and the mobile signal advertises itself tantalisingly as GPRS. Which feels like it should provide a connection but actually doesn’t.
So last night I wrote a blogpost and stumbled around a benighted garden waving my mobile phone in a caricature of the metropolitan visitors that are the butt of many jokes in this part of the country. But I couldn’t send it.
And this morning I couldn’t check Twitter, or read the news, or find out what my friends had been up to on Friday night.
Which is, of course, kind of liberating. And the digital detox is an established part of the chattering classes solution to the stresses and strains of modern life.
It’s also frustrating. Clearly there is stuff going on in the country and I’m not on top of it. Has the government taking a strong stand to support the role of independent judges? Maybe the Prime Minister has replaced “Brexit means Brexit” with “We don’t agree with the decision but we respect the people who make it. It is wrong to attack judges for simply doing their job because you don’t like the decision.” And America. Are they foolish enough to elect Trump (in a world where Boris Johnson is my country’s top diplomat that doesn’t seem so unlikely)?
Then again. What do I gain, as a citizen, from being tapped in to this discourse? I cannot, in any meaningful sense, influence it. I am a gawping spectator to a motorway pile up. Fascinated, concerned, terrified but removed and disconnected.
And nothing can be properly understood from the instant reaction. If we want our leaders to exercise their judgement. If we want to exercise our judgement we need to think about things. Reactive states reveal a great deal about what you feel but very little about what you think. High Court Judges are clearly not enemies of the people, though some people clearly are very cross about their decision in this case.
Digital communication technologies are great. But the ability to respond and track significant developments in real time doesn’t equate to that being helpful, desirable or useful.
I’m very much not recommending digital de-tox. But I am recommending taking time for reflection.