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断网断电——偷闲还是找烦? The Trouble with Going off the Grid


National Day of Unplugging3  I decided to ignore the National Day of Unplugging3)—a 24-hour break from the Internet, TV, iPods, GPS and phones—on March 19, 2010 largely because I thought it was stupid. I hate those acts of righteous self-denial that people do just so they can brag about them: health cleanses, bow hunting, reclaiming your virginity. So when the organizers called me the following week and asked if I would participate as the first in a series of celebrity unpluggers, I immediately thought, “This is a fantastic4) idea.” If it went well, I’d be trading 24 hours offline for hundreds of hours of new self-Google results.

  When I told my lovely wife Cassandra I’d be electronically disappearing, she liked the idea so much, and she decided to do it too. “We’ll make love by candlelight,” she said. I was already changing my mind about this idea’s being stupid.

  Arranging my one day of not using email with the National Day of Unplugging people required 24 emails, two phone calls and one Facebook friendship acceptance. The day before I turned off, I talked to the guy behind the idea, Dan Rollman, who is also the founder of the Universal Record Data Base, the online competitor to Guinness World Records. He came up with unplugging as a way of respecting the Sabbath5), without all the praying and not going to parties. Rollman, apparently, is working on a record for the most new ways to piss off6) the Creator. About 20 minutes into our conversation about the joys of jumping off the grid, I admitted to Rollman that not only had I been checking my email during our talk, but I also looked at Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times. “I did too,” he said. “I saw my phone beep, and I said, ‘I wonder what that’s all about.’” When I asked him what it was about, he said he couldn’t even remember. I had been outdueled in a game of phone ADD7).

  Right before sundown on Friday, I used my printer more than I had the rest of the time I’ve owned it. I printed directions, calendars, phone numbers and notes for the book I’m writing, in case I needed to work on it. I clearly have lost all understanding of how long 24 hours is, and of the fact that I would never write anything longer than my name with a pen. A few minutes later, our babysitter showed up, and my wife Cassandra and I headed off to dinner. We were 11 minutes into our experiment when, sitting in traffic, Cassandra suggested we call the restaurant to tell them we’d be late. Then she started singing Lady Gaga8) songs a cappella9). Then she came up with a Twitter joke she wanted me to memorize so she could send it out the next day. Still, it was nice to talk, or sit quietly with the option of talking, without the other person typing.
  就在周五日落之前,我疯狂地使用打印机,比我拥有这台打印机以来的其他任何一天都要频繁。我打印了路线图、日程表、电话号码,还有我正在撰写的书的写作笔记,以便在我写作时用得上。显然,我已经完全忘记了24小时到底有多长,也忘记了我再也无法用笔写出任何比我名字长的单词来了。几分钟之后,替我们照看孩子的保姆来了,于是,我和妻子卡桑德拉一起出去吃晚饭。不想路遇堵车,就在我们的断网断电实验刚刚进行了11分钟的时候,卡桑德拉提议打开电话,联系饭店,说我们晚到一会儿。接着,她开始清唱Lady Gaga的歌曲。后来,她又想到一个适合贴到Twitter上的笑话,她要我记住这个笑话,以便她第二天发到Twitter上。不管怎样,没有人在旁边噼里啪啦地打字,就这样聊聊天,或者只是静静地坐着,想聊的时候聊几句,感觉真不错。

  At dinner, when Cassandra went to the bathroom, I had no clue what to do without a phone to pretend to be busy with. So I stared at people at nearby tables, which, while normal in 2000, is totally creepy10) now. But the real problem was trying to get to a party afterward. We got lost without the GPS, and by the time we got there, Cassandra’s friends had already left. “Joel, this is your fault,” Cassandra said many, many times. At 11:22 p.m., just four hours into our experiment, she turned on her phone and started mad texting. I could tell that we were not going to light even one candle.

  But by the next morning, Cassandra had come around11). The idea of unplugging was good, she’d decided. It just had to be done without driving to parties, which, it turns out, is actually the way the Bible suggests. So I decided to tack on a second 24 hours. And other than a few urges to hit the computer to add a movie to my Netflix12) queue and find out if Switzerland uses the euro, I didn’t miss it. Sure, it’s a little boring to drive without texting, but I got to focus on driving really fast. And the day felt longer, with that slow, easy laziness you get only on vacation or Vicodin13).

   When Sunday night arrived, I dreaded turning my computer back on. I knew it meant I’d have to do work or respond to emails from friends and family, i.e., more work. And while the main lesson I took away from my two days is that technology is a gift from God and should never be turned off—one simple text would have kept Cassandra’s friends at the party, which would have led to more drinking—I did learn that I’d rather hang out with my wife than find out every time someone retweets14) me. I don’t want to feel the need to respond to everything as soon as I can. But I do, of course, need everyone else to respond to my emails, texts and calls right away. That’s why I need to become a much, much bigger celebrity. So for now, my priority is spending all my time on Facebook and Twitter.
  1. grid [^rId] n. 系统网络(指输电线路、广播电台、电视台等网络)
  2. Joel Stein:乔尔·斯坦因(1971~),美国记者,《洛杉矶时报》的专栏作家,《时代周刊》的长期撰稿人。
  3. National Day of Unplugging:全美断网断电日,该活动提议从2010年3月19日日落前至3月20日日落前的这24小时中,人们拔掉电源,切断网络,关掉手机、电脑、电视、音乐播放器等所有与外界沟通和联系的媒介,放松身心,放慢脚步,增加和家人、朋友在一起的时间。
  4. fantastic [fAn5tAstIk] adj. (想法、计划等)虚妄的,很少有实现可能的
  5. Sabbath [5sAbEW] n. 安息日(基督教徒大都以星期日为安息日,犹太教徒及某些基督教徒以星期六为安息日)
  6. piss off:使恼火,使变得生气
  7. ADD:Attention Deficit Disorder的缩写,注意缺陷障碍,最主要的症状是频繁地、不自觉地走神。
  8. Lady Gaga:美国流行音乐的新晋“电子舞后”,1986年出生于纽约,她不仅有一流的声线,更是个非常有个性的创作歌手。
  9. a cappella:无音乐伴奏地
  10. creepy [5kri:pI] adj. 恐怖的,令人反感的
  11. come around:改变立场或观点
  12. Netflix:奈飞公司,美国最大的在线DVD租赁商,成立于1997年,总部设在加利福尼亚州的洛斯加托斯。
  13. Vicodin:维柯丁,一种止痛药,在美国为处方药,在国内被分在麻醉药品类里。
  14. retweet:Twitter用户在看到有意思的链接和消息想转发分享时,必须手动将原消息复制到消息框,并在前面输入“RT”字符后再发布,以表明这一消息为转发,这种行为被称为retweet。