Until, that is, we reached out beyond the wall for the first time in weeks, put down our phones, and seized an analog alternative. We grabbed what was near: a paperback novel on the shelf, an old jigsaw puzzle in the back of a cupboard, a bag of flour whose value was now priceless. We built Lego cities and learned to do woodwork. We fixed bicycles and mucked around in gardens. We tinkered with guitars and amplifiers. We started sourdoughs, first because all the yeast was sold out and then because we became obsessed with its primal, fermenting joy. One Saturday, I painted a Bob Ross–inspired watercolour landscape and then spent three hours making chocolate eclairs. We turned away from digital and sought solace in things we could touch, feel, and sense with our whole bodies.
Sure, people bought fancy internet-connected Peloton bikes and tons of other home-exercise equipment, but more than that, we got outside. We walked until our legs ached and at all hours of the day. Bicycles, cross-country skis, snowshoes, surfboards, tennis rackets, anything to do with camping—if it got you out, it was in high demand. Lakes and rivers filled with paddleboarders. Slackliners and spike ballers congregated on every field. Parks and beaches and campgrounds swelled with the sudden discovery by humanity that we needed to go beyond our screens if we were going to survive this. Hiking trails felt like rush hour on a downtown sidewalk. Our bodies wanted out.
Limit time spend in a digital world is a good idea. One of the reasons I leave my work devices at work.