Those of you who follow my work here on Nerdy But Flirty may have realized that I’ve been away from the site for a bit of time now. I assure you that this wasn’t intentional at first and was due to some sudden technical limitations that made developing and posting new content much harder than before (more on that shortly), but as time went on, I actually came to appreciate the time spent “off the grid.” How did I arrive at that state of affairs, and what was my overall experience with it? Read on to find out!
It all started back in October 2016 when my main desktop PC went out of commission. Initially it seemed as if the graphics card had simply given up the ghost, but going through the RMA process with Gigabyte revealed that the GPU was actually in great health. With it seeming more and more like the motherboard itself was on the way out, it became apparent that a new desktop would be in my future at some point. At first, this really made me upset, but the timing actually isn’t so bad – AMD will be releasing their new Ryzen CPU in the first quarter of this year (along with the new AM4 motherboard), and that will be followed shortly by the long-awaited Vega line of graphics cards.
With the desktop out of commission for the immediate future, I was very glad to have a dual-GPU laptop to use in the interim. This turned out to be a good alternative, because it allowed me to play most PC games at up to 1080p with decent settings and I could still output it to a large display if I wanted. However, in late November one of my cats managed to crack the screen and damage the frame of the laptop. Thankfully it was still under warranty, but as of writing this post, I still haven’t gotten it back from its repairs (hopefully that’ll be resolved soon).
Of course I had a tablet and smartphone to use during this time, but not having my desktop or laptop severely cut back on my ability to produce media and post new, interesting articles on the various outlets I work with. Once upon a time (perhaps just a year or two ago) the idea of going “off the grid” would have been terrible to even think about. However, this recent experience was actually something that I came to really enjoy for a variety of reasons, and I think it’s changed my outlook on a few things most definitely for the better.
For a while, I’d been feeling stressed out in some ways with deadlines to get coverage out on certain topics, dealing with PR requests and feeling forced to produce media and posts of a certain quality, and in some ways getting burned out over social media. The 2016 Presidential election here in the United States was also a big downer for me, not simply because of who won the election, but because of what that victory said about a rather large number of voting adults in America. In the months leading up to and the weeks directly following the November election, I had to mute and block a rather surprising number of people over Twitter. I was tired of pulling up my feed and being bombarded with negativity, smear campaigns, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and more. That’s not to say that the majority of the people that I follow are like that, but rather there was just an unusually large volume of people promoting negative stuff at the time. Disconnecting from the whole experience was much needed. In fact, I had disconnected from Twitter (not posting updates but instead limiting my time there to messaging people over direct messages) by late October, and as time went on, it was easier and easier to stay away from it.
One thing I learned first hand (and this is something we all probably know, but rarely think applies to us) from being away for a while is that disconnecting for a while is actually a good, healthy thing to do. By disconnecting, you may in fact connect more with the people in your daily life. By not spending time getting sucked into time-consuming PC games, working on articles for various venues, recording and editing video, dealing with PR people, and trying to promote new content as well, I found myself finding other things to use my time for. This of course included spending more time with family and friends, finding projects to do at home (such as cleaning and well-needed organizing), going out on walks and hikes to get more exercise, and overall just enjoying the offline world a bit more. As time wore on, I came to realize the truth in the idea that the more you go without something, the sooner you’ll realize that you didn’t need it as much as you thought you did. Sure, I’d spend a little time on my phone answering emails, replying to a few messages, or looking something up, but the compulsive need to check on various websites, look things up, or obsess over various other related things slowly began dying away.
I’m sure everyone has noticed this to some degree or another, but when I’m out in a public place (such as one of the local parks) on a nice day, there’s a surprising number of people who are glued to a screen of some kind. I’ll see parents who should be playing with (or at least watching) their kids off on a park bench in the shade texting or on the phone. It’s not that there’s something wrong with taking a moment to answer a text or email or to look something up real quick, but people spend hours doing this. Also, people can pretend to look something up on their phone to avoid having to talk to a stranger, and sadly this works out just fine because it’s become socially acceptable to be on your phone all the time.
Hopefully before too long I’ll get a new gaming PC (and a laptop as well), but when that time comes I want to take what I’ve learned from this period and use that knowledge to not fall into old patterns. I want to focus on enjoying my time and not falling into the same feelings of obligation and anxiety. I also don’t want to let my time spent gaming or producing media take a precedence over my real world activities either. These may be things that we think are a given, but they are things I think we all need a bit of reminding about.
So, how about you all – have you ever spent a significant period of time “offline” or without some of the technology we take for granted these days? If so, what were your experiences and observations? I’d love to hear what some others think!