What is a month in public isolation like? Well, it’s not isolating in a traditional sense – it’s public. There is no place to hide except the bathroom (which I haven’t done but wanted to many times) or under the covers (which I have many times, but doesn’t give much comfort.) It’s a place where your brain is in constant motion and you can’t seem to stop it long enough to focus on one thing. It’s where the notifications of text messages and emails are continually pouring in all the while people need your attention at the window. Everything you do seems to be fragmented so much so that you are constantly rewriting, rereading, and asking people to repeat what they just said. You can’t seem to write a simple text without a typo.
You become so obsessed with the idea that you are behind on emails and other work that you hardly leave the computer to take a break and do something else. In a word, you become addicted to these limited forms of communication. Which is right about the time you begin to feel so incredibly overwhelmed that you wish it would all to go away.
Through this experience, I have been reminded that human beings need rest and I feel as though I have had little. It’s hard to feel at rest when you are constantly being watched on and offline. I never turned my phone off and my laptop was only shut off at night while I slept. Being accessible all of the time has taken a toll on my body.
Public isolation is much like many of our lives. Someone described it perfectly to me in an email, “There are many people living just like you through the screens of their phones and laptops. These machines, always on, always open, are the equivalent of the windows you have around you, allowing anyone to contact them, wake them and take their attention at any time.”