I smashed my cell phone with a dress shoe, melted the pieces with a hair dryer, stowed the pieces away in a military-grade Faraday bag, and then buried it in a shoebox under a floorboard. As I meditated in total darkness above the broken corpse of my former mobile device, I felt my digital self fade into the wind with the vapor of silicon. I took a deep breath. This was freedom.
And freedom looked good on me, almost instantaneously. Just an hour off the grid I felt less anxious. Released from my miserable existence of retweet farming, I felt my anxiety melting away. An hour into my sojourn, my eyes began to adjust to the dark like a cat’s, and I felt the strength of my senses amplify. Two hours in, I picked up a glass and accidentally crushed it with newfound strength. Alarmed, I ran to the bathroom mirror to examine myself. The visage was almost unrecognizable. Before me stood a perfected version of myself: taller, skin cleared, teeth straight, muscles rippling beneath my shirt like windblown waves over water. I prowled my hotel room for hours, growing in power and greatness, basking in the glow of the setting moon.
Before I went to sleep for the night, I handwrote a letter to the concierge directing the hotel to deliver me physical copies of the best newspapers, and even some of the worst newspapers. Just after dawn, I heard him approaching before he ever knocked on the hotel door, armed with a stack of newspapers. He seemed alarmed by the odor of burnt plastic wafting from the room, and I felt his heartbeat quicken when I wrapped my hands around his and shook them, but never mind. Now was time for phase two of my experiment. I unfurled the papers: The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Jefferson Jimplecute, and The De Queen Bee, among others. With my new adamantine attention span, I tore through the dailies, absorbing every iota of information inked on the pages. There were new stories on blockchain, which I now understood for the first time ever, White House scandals, box scores, classified ads, and 14 op-eds about political correctness on campuses. After I devoured the last line of the last paper, I ripped the mountain of pages to shreds with my bare hands and howled. I’d done it.
It had worked exactly the way everyone said it would, more or less. Instead of digesting preformed takes about the news, I consumed the raw fiber of news directly. I understood things better, I read more quickly, and even the most odious columns rarely threatened my newfound serenity. The clarity that descended upon me was profound, like a bracing winter wind. Eight hours into my digital asceticism, and I had become a new, pure-news-based being. I felt the last vestiges of my earthly hungers and desires ebb and vanish into nothing. This was my life now.
So it came time to retreat back into the hotel room and begin preparing myself for day two of pure news. The sunlight pouring in through the windows hurt my eyes, so I closed the blackout curtains. The hum of power lines and traffic around the hotel grated on my newly acute hearing, so I wrapped myself in blankets, insulating myself with the shreds of yesterday’s news. There, I meditated and waited for tomorrow’s headlines.