Manual Reset: Reclaiming Your “Tactility” in a Digital Ocean
Missing real touch? Grab your toothbrush or go to Maker Faire! To ease right-brain cravings, try these simple tips you may have abandoned long ago:
1. Buy a cheap toothbrush. The arguably artistic ritual of diligently scrubbing those pearly whites every morning beats the robotic zoned-out cleanse of an electric toothbrush — unless, of course, your dentist advises otherwise. Just be thorough, or choose your “buzzier” brush after dinner.
2. Cook. As in, real fresh ingredients you have to chop, slice or marinade. Touch those ingredients, smell them, sample them. Appreciate their shape and color. By all means, inhale the herbs.
3. Get a radio or CD player. Bust out your old favorites from the 80s and 90s — you know they’re still in the basement… Local radio is also a nice, relaxing way to manually unwind after a long day. Resist the urge to change the station every other song — let the “crappier” songs grow on you. It worked in the 70s.
4. Reclaim your landline! It’s cheap (often included in internet packages), and you can teach your friends that’s the only line you’ll answer on evenings/weekends. The telephone returns to AT&T’s original “reach out and touch someone” slogan via landline, with no side texting or surfing allowed.
5. Turn off the GPS. Intentionally. Try a good old-fashioned road map, which somehow got me and my convertible from Chicago to California and back again several times during college. Better yet, ask for spoken directions to any new venues, and jot them down mentally or on paper. Who cares if you miss an exit, it’s the journey. (Howdya’ think I happened upon Flagstaff?)
6. Sweat. Pick your poison: sauna, exercise, sunbathing — there’s just something about sweat that’s very grounding and anti-digital.
7. Get up off the couch to change the channel. Or the volume. If you hide the TV controls, say once or twice a week, you’ll be shocked at your newfound tolerance for cartoons and game shows. You may not even want to watch TV at all.
8. Invest in a hip leather writing journal. I like to unplug for at least one entire day per week (Saturdays seem to work well), and I love reverting to my journal for notes and reminders. The tactile, slow experience of writing and touching pen/pencil to paper helps to quiet mental chatter and gives your eyes and brain a rest — even a training.
Want to read this story later? Save it in Journal.
9. Get a watch. Make it an old-fashioned (currently trendy) kind, with static numbers and hands. This tip will actually save you time over pulling out your phone — which makes a whole lot of sense, because when you want to know what time it is, you usually don’t have much of it. Why not take it a step further and call it a “time piece”? (How ultra-hip and anti-digital…)
10. Consider the relaxing habit of using a handheld folding fan — just like the little old ladies in Cuba and China. There’s something so elegant and very useful about this simple, portable manual device! Gently fluttering handheld fans can also increase your allowance of “personal space”. Try it the next time you’re in a crowded subway.
11. Rekindle your relationship with stationery and stamps. Dropping someone a note and/or thank you card via snail mail has long been considered a sign of high society and good manners. Go the extra mile and spray some of your favorite perfume on a love letter, or put a wax seal of your favorite emoji or symbol near your name. Or include a real photo — one of the dozens you get in that photo package from your kid’s school. Your fortunate recipients will appreciate the three dimensional experience.
12. Pick up some colored pencils and a drawing pad (or paints and a canvas) from A.C. Moore or a local arts and crafts store. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, make some art. Aluminum foil, glue and colorful pipe cleaners work magic on frazzled nerves. If you’re timid, consider drawing inspiration from abstract masters such as Kazimir Malevich who staked his claim on brilliantly replicating the simplicity of basic geometric forms, or Russian-American Mark Rothko, whose signature piece Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) was little more (yet somehow oh-so-much-more) than its name. If they didn’t think of themselves as artists — downright geniuses — no one else would have, either.
13. Don’t forget Maker Faire! The most phenomenal event on earth for anyone looking to return to three dimensional, real-life (and at times real wacky) sensory experiences, the World Maker Faire is held annually at the New York Hall of Science, generally in September. Other Maker Faires around the country and the world draw tens of thousands. A three-day nosedive into all things tactile (and way more), this “3E” experience (Eclectic, Energizing, Empowering) attracts everyone from babies to grandparents. Maker Faire is an inspiring, liberating, and even healing experience — no rules, and yet somehow not at all unruly. Go!