Offline is the new luxury (18)

As far as Irene is concerned, “contemplating stimuli” is the new phrase for 2017. How often do you want to be distracted by your smartphone, and what exactly do you gain from it? Each Friday, Irene, who together with Astrid is the founder of Flow, writes about this particular issue.

During the Christmas holidays, I tried to leave “THE THING” alone as much as possible. In fact, all the reasons that usually call (no pun intended there) for me to pick it up so often were gone: My kids were with me, so they wouldn’t be sending me sms’, and work could wait a few days because nobody really expected an answer between Christmas and New Year. I wanted to submerge myself entirely into that lovely December Christmassy- feeling without any distractions whatsoever. Watching TV, finally reading that philosophy book, seeing the musical Sing with my children, practicing on the ukulele that I had gifted myself for Christmas, reading the newspaper and all its supplements, going to the museum, and much more. Yup, I was planning for this to be the ultimate offline week.

But… you can already guess how it actually went. There was always something that triggered me to peak at THE THING—just to check, because maybe someone had…, or something had… or perhaps… And so there I was, sending sms’ in Sing, walking around the Frans Hals Museum taking photos to post on Instagram (under the “look-at-me-aren’t-I-busy-doing-great-things” category), and reading the newspaper while keeping one eye on the New Year’s Party WhatsApp group, and the conversations about catering, gazebos and champagne. On January 1, I really had had enough of my own behavior. I picked up Sir Edmund (a supplement that comes with the Volkskrant newspaper that reports on the latest developments in science, new media, literature, the zeitgeist and more) and reread what mathematician Cal Newport encourages us to do with dead time: muse, wander, be bored. And then they hit me—two words that, as far as I am concerned, are the new phrase of 2017: contemplating stimuli. I had actually decided never to make New Year’s Resolutions again, but I have. Anyone else up for contemplating stimuli in 2017 too?