To test our virtual relationships and budding feelings, we go offline. We fast. Disconnect, free ourselves from the hypnotic powers of the screen to know if what feels so compelling online is a meaningful experience or some kind of digital illusion.
But what most digital fasters describe the experience to be like is not a cleansing, or some detoxification — finally, I’m free of that corrupting Internet! — but rather a realization of how online and offline lives are integrated. One. A newly holistic life that includes time for both plugging in and unplugging, in equally conscious and intentional ways.
If unplugging needs to be a part of our approach to living and working digitally, it’s through the daily practice of taking downtime, of opting for reflection rather than distraction. If longer-term digital fasts can remind you how to integrate offline moments back into your daily life, that’s great. But you don’t need a digital fast to justify meeting your needs online, and you don’t need to unplug in order to justify plugging back in.