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Can You Give Up Your Internet, Smartphone for One Week?

Stocks in this article: AAPL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A few weeks ago, I had an idea. On Thursday, as I was preparing to implement it, something happened that reinforced just how necessary an exercise this is.

I need a break from technology, particularly computers, email and the "smart" features of my iPhone. There comes a point where our heads get sucked into these screens so far that our brains end up in a fog. It's not enough to merely "take a day off" or a "vacation." I believe -- and we'll find out if I'm right -- that those of us who effectively live on our computers and related devices need to take seemingly extreme steps back from time to time. I think we'll be better off for it. I'm pretty certain I will be.

Funny story that reinforced the need for me to do this.

I funnel all of my email through Apple's (AAPL) Mail program. Email from three accounts -- TheStreet, Gmail and Me.com -- hits this Mac platform. On Thursday, I was testing an auto-response, which you actually have to set up as a "rule" in Mail, when all hell broke loose!

This was the auto-reply message I wanted people who send me email over the next seven days to receive:

Starting Friday evening May 3 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time until Friday evening May 10 at or around 5:00 p.m. Pacific time I am going "off the grid."
That means I am not using my computer at all. No email. No social media. No work. Nothing. I will only use my smartphone for calls and to send/receive texts. I will only access the Internet to watch "television."
As such, I will not reply to you until the weekend of May 10. HOWEVER, if you you are calling to request a television appearance OR you think I would want to hear from you, you may call me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.


I didn't even get to edit it because after setting the rule, I quickly realized this message wasn't simply an auto-response. It would get sent, as a reply, to every single email in my inbox. After about 15 minutes, I caught my error, but only after folks I have interacted with over the last 45 days or so received this message from me. In many cases, individuals received this email over and over and over and over and over again.

Everybody from TheStreet's CEO to my mother to producers at CNN and CNBC to others I can't think of who likely think I am a bit of a dumb ass.

In any event, what's done is done. But, really, that oversight validated my decision to disconnect. I need to get away from the computer. You do too. If I may prescribe a potion for what I perceive as a much-needed break.

It's not that I don't like this connected life; it's just that, at some point, we all require a shock. We need to experience at least a slightly different way of being. And, maybe more importantly, after a week without the stuff quite a few of us use every minute of every day, we might return to "technology" with a better sense of how to employ it more effectively.

You know -- I was gone for a week. I didn't do X, Y and Z. And, lo and behold, nothing bad happened because I didn't do X and Y. ( Knock on wood) So, from here on out, why saddle myself with something that has no meaningful purpose? That's the sort of thing I'm looking for on this respite.

I also want to do the things I used to do that I like to do that I do not do much anymore.


I want to sit under a tree in a park and read a book. Ride my bike. Practice guitar more. Catch up on some mindless television. Do some sightseeing in Southern California. Lay on the beach. A week's worth of relative aimlessness works for me.

That all sounds great. But the question is can I actually do this. Can you? Have you? Will you someday?

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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