Until recently, I thought I led a pretty eco-friendly life. And then I read a couple of articles like this one that explain how our internet habits now create a carbon footprint that equals that of the aviation industry. I may well be blogging, tweeting, emailing and streaming shows about climate change, but in doing so I’m also contributing to it.
This wake-up call left me hankering for a less digital life; one that isn’t dependent on looking things up on the internet 30 times a day (the Ecosia app counts your searches, if you’re interested).
I began to wonder, what would it be like to choose a more analogue life?
I wouldn’t attempt to give up technology entirely. In the case of some things that I really value, they can’t be easily be replicated without the internet – like this blog, which I would write off as a vanity project, but from time to time I receive messages of thanks for a blog post that has proved helpful to someone else. And as a home educating family, our experience is significantly enriched by visual and interactive internet resources (enabling us to enjoy learning together, rather than fall out over it).
I’ve reflected elsewhere about using technology mindfully, and most of my existing practices involve just using it less. Which definitely saves me from notification overload, but seems to focus on an aversive approach that is all too familiar in our get-rid-of-the-uncomfortable culture. The idea of returning to ‘analogue’ seems to hold a promise of something richer, that could be about moving towards something.
Perhaps I could get more creative, rather than assuming that digital options are always the only choice.
I’m curious what I might learn from this: which things are challenging to find an analogue equivalent for, and which replacements might bring extra benefits. My suspicion is that digital options will often be bound up with doing more faster, and that analogue choices will necessitate a surrender to even more slowness than I currently enjoy.
I’ve started my adventures in analogue by considering how I use the internet for entertainment (or distraction, depending on the emotional energy that’s present).
During the global slowdown, I gradually replaced much of the time I used to spend on social media and falling into internet-search rabbit holes with reading ‘proper’ books. It has meant retuning my attention span a bit, but I love absorbing well-written wisdom on topics that I might not normally read about.
I think the library is fast becoming my analogue alternative to the internet. Since my local branch reopened after lockdown, I’ve taken out books on wildlife gardening, nutrition, yoga, how trees communicate, the history of libraries and natural weather prediction – the last one because I’m curious if there’s another option to avoid getting a drenching, other than using a weather app or catching the forecast on TV (I don’t consume news, because it mostly seems to make me grumpy and judgemental).
As a family, we’ve also been rediscovering the joys of live TV and radio, instead of relying so heavily on streaming TV shows. I’ll admit that sometimes I miss the ‘flop on the sofa and numb out’ ritual that a binge-watch used to give me. But I’m not missing wasting so much of my time (and the earth’s resources on all that storage space) watching stuff that I’m not actually that interested in, just because there’s ‘nothing better on’.
Instead, I look out for interesting shows that I might otherwise not come across, or we leave the TV off and do something else instead. It’s lovely to give ourselves a bit of precious time back! While we haven’t given up streaming the content that we genuinely value, it does feel good to reconnect with other options.
If I have more to share, I might post again about this experiment in less-digital-living.
In the meantime, if you liked this post, you might also like these over on my main site: