Sally Herships of NPR’s Marketplace coined a great phrase in this broadcast, which aired in February: Melonballer Moments, referring to the time you unintentionally waste doing online research to make trivial decisions. Being able to access scads of information about quotidian purchases is great, in theory… but when there’s so little at stake, how much time do you really want to spend reading user reviews about melonballers or whatnot?
The story marked my going back online this January, after avoiding the Internet since last July. I had challenged myself to unplug from the Web for six months and give up my cellphone for a year. (I just started using one again last month, and even got a new one—though it’s a cheap, dumb clamshell. I sometimes consider getting a smarter phone but still resist, for now!)
Somewhat inaccurately, the subtitle describes my offline project as a ‘chore,’ when for the most part I loved it. There were some frustrations, sure, but I was thrilled by the challenge of finding workarounds for device dependency. And I found myself in some bizarre, humorous situations:
- throwing rocks at a friends’ third-floor window when her doorbell didn’t work, since I couldn’t call to let her know I was there. In retrospect, I would have set off my car alarm to get her attention;
- hunting for payphones in New York City, which is easier than you probably think—though you need to get in the habit of memorizing or writing down in advance any phone numbers that you might need later;
- wandering up and down a city block at midnight, unable to find a New Year’s Eve party because my fiancé didn’t know the address and assumed he would be able to look it up on his cellphone, which he had forgotten at home;
- waiting patiently for a clerk to print out a “Wines of the Month” list from her shop’s website when she could have shown them to me… on a “Wines of the Month” shelf only 20 feet away from us. Turned out, her computer printout listed the wrong wines, too.
With only three minutes to tell the story, Herships doesn’t get into the background of why I went offline and what Slow Media means in the context of a new subculture of people who practice similar rituals like “Digital Detox” and “Unplugging” and “Internet Sabbaths.”
My search for a wedding dress, especially, resonated with her—perhaps because she also had recently begun shopping for one? I hazard to guess that she loves kittens, too.