Disclaimer: This is a concept post. It is highly theoretical.
The idea of “siesta” seems like fantasy to the modern American worker. How many times have you heard someone at work or school ask, as a joke, why we can’t have naptime like we did in kindergarten? Yet, In ancient Rome, and even to some degree in modern Mediterranean countries, a siesta was common. Shops would be closed, and people would go home to eat and sleep, right in the middle of the day! However, it doesn’t take much thought to realize that a siesta like that is completely incompatible with the modern economy. Perhaps it will make a comeback when we live in the automated economy, but for now, it remains a pipe dream.
But what about a tech siesta? What if there was a time, perhaps an hour or two at some point in the day, that for that time, as a culture, we agreed that it was inappropriate to use community-based technology? That is, technology that is based upon users interacting with each other. Technology that gives you FOMO, or makes you feel like you have to check something. So, no Facebook posts, tweets, or emails. No non-essential texts or calls. No Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp, or Tinder.
Maybe you’ve already heard of tech sabbaths, and maybe you’ve heard they’re really hard. The reason tech sabbaths don’t work is largely because everyone else isn’t doing it. You feel isolated and disconnected. So the only way of making sure a tech siesta is effective is by having everyone doing it. It must become socially ingrained.
A tech siesta would undoubtedly be a psychologically healthful boost to our day. It’s a common lament that we’re becoming too interconnected, or lacking privacy, or that we are stressed as a result of the “instant” culture. But all those complaints have a Luddite tinge to them when practiced in reality. It somehow feels anti-progress to suggest that people shouldn’t post on social media. Not answering texts or emails in a timely manner is frowned upon. A siesta can’t work if only contrarians embrace it. So the only way to ensure that it’s not a Luddite movement is to limit its scope. Maybe an hour before bedtime? Or during dinner? Feel free to use Netflix!
How to organically create a cultural norm? Hard to do. But then again, it’s just a thought.