You might expect the director for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University to stay plugged in all the time. And you’re right.
“In my experience the moment you’re unplugged something happens,” says Emily Bell (@emilybell).
“I would recommend to journalists that they go off line, but only when they’re on holiday. Otherwise you’re immersed all the time. One of the hardest things that we have to cope with now is the fact that this is an immersive business and finding space for yourself between what’s happening all the time and thinking about things in a wider context is one of the hardest things we have to do.”
Below, a few more panelists and attendees spoke about whether they take a break from the digital world and how they like to unwind after long days staring at a screen.
COUNTLESS HOURS OF SCANDAL: “I spent the whole conference attached to twitter like it’s my job. I’ll get on the airplane after this, I will read a lot of editions of the New Yorker and I will go home, sit on the couch with my husband and watch countless episodes of Scandal without my phone anywhere near me. These days when something breaks, it’s on Twitter. It’s a part of our job in a breaking news environment, it’s really hard to do, but I do think for our own mental health. Sometimes we need to step back and see the bigger picture. That’s really hard to do when you’re looking down at your phone.” — Emily Ramshaw, Editor at The Texas Tribune (@eramshaw)
A PIN THAT SAYS I’M NOT TALKING: “I love being at conferences like this but I talk non-stop, it’s exhausting, so I essentially want to take a vow of silence and walk around with a pin that says, I’m not talking and slide notes back and forth like we’re in grade school. I think it’s important to take a step back. These events like this are intense, people are jamming lots of information, ideas and opinions into your brain and you need time to let that distill and figure out what works for you, what’s meaningful, what resonates in your life. You need time to let things percolate.” — Miranda Mulligan, Chief of The Knight Lab at Northwestern University (@jmm)
I NEVER DETOXIFY: “I never unplug and I never detoxify, except once a year when I go on vacation with my family. I try to go somewhere where I turn the phone off and I’m unreachable for a week. I’m a social media professor, I can’t unplug. Professionally, I can’t unplug, so I’m always paying attention. I think it’s good to unplug at times, I think it’s good to get away and let yourself be with your own thoughts. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary that you do it a lot.” — Robert Quigly, Senior Lecturer in New Media at The University of Texas at Austin (@robquig)