Day 20

Twenty days in, wow, I made it two-thirds of the way without losing my mind.  Now if I can only make it the next 10.  One of the things that I thought would be hard to be in here for is Thanksgiving.  But I have to say, I feel incredibly thankful this year so I don’t mind it a bit that I am I stuck in this box.   Many of you have asked what I will be doing for the holiday.  My original plan was to Skype with family as they sit down for dinner, but now I am secretly hoping that the weather will permit some family and friends to come down with tables and chairs and Skype with me through the glass so we can sort of enjoy the day together.  Either way it will be a good day.

The Oregonian published an article about the project in today’s paper. (Make sure to scroll down to watch the video as well – Josh gives a great interview explaining the project.)  Because of the article, a lot of people came to visit today.  Josh was here too for quite a while interviewing people asking them their thoughts on the project for the documentary. I noticed that there was a good mix of people.  I think pretty much every age bracket came to say hi or quietly observe.  I continue to be amazed at the response and support to the project so thank you to everyone who has taken an interest.

One person that I wasn’t sure would understand this project in the beginning was my dad.  He is now one of my biggest supporters.  Let me explain.  My dad has had a computer for a few years, but with the exception of the last two years he mostly just used it for checking his golf handicap and Googling things.  He has now started to use it more for research to do with work, but I continue to be his tech support.  He is the last person I would ever think would open a facebook account or who spends more then an hour surfing the web each day.  He has made fun of me plenty for being that person who is always texting and checking emails on my phone.

Before this project my dad didn’t have a webcam and had never used Skype.  We usually talk every two weeks on the phone.  Now that we can video chat, he has called me almost every day.  Recently on a video chat, I discovered that my step-mom is really upset with my dad for spending so much time on the computer.  She says that they never talk anymore because when she comes home from work he is on the computer until it’s time to go to bed.  This surprised me, I had no idea he used the computer that much.

A week ago, I asked my dad if he wanted me to help him start a facebook account just so he could see the things I was posting.  I explained that he could delete the account as soon as the project was over.  He said,  “No that’s okay, I don’t want one.”  A few days ago on a video chat, of course, he told me he setup a facebook account on his own purely to ‘look’ at what I am doing. That was less then a week ago.  He is now reconnecting with buddies that live in various states, sending me politically messages, making comments on lots of post, and making good use of the ‘like’ button.  This in a weird way makes me proud that he was able to navigate the tech side, but also makes me really concerned.

I am beginning to think that my dad is addicted to facebook and that I may need to do an intervention when this project is over.  The good news is that we can both go through the withdrawals together. I am sure I am going to need some help unplugging as well.

21 Responses to “Day 20”

  1. Cliff Feightner Says:


    It has been interesting to watch your emotions and attitudes evolve during the last 20 days. I think that you are doing great and know that you are past the psychlogical hump.

    Stay positive,

  2. Pete Says:

    Hi Cristin,
    I read about your project in the paper yesterday and then came here to read all your posts. I decided I had to see first hand and my wife and I came down after dinner.

    One thing that surprised me, was how we became embarrassed to watch you. Even though you are right out there to be seen, it felt like we were invading your privacy and so we kinda shuffled around, looked in your bedroom – cause you were on the couch, but didn’t end up looking at you much.

    Anyway, this is a cool thing you’re doing. You mention that it’s a once in a lifetime experience on one of these posts. Seems like it’s more rare than that. None of us have done it.

  3. Miles Says:

    Hey Cristen,
    I stumbled upon your story just a second ago. Im writing a paper about Facebook this quarter for a class called Principles of Persuasion. I picked the topic because until recently I was a regular Facebook user checking my page many times daily. I stopped using Facebook Oct 24th and couldn’t help but think of the strange coincidence that the month I decided to stop, you fully commit to this project.

    The paper I want to write is about the availability of online privacy and how corporations use basic online commodities like your date of birth, full name, and likes (among other things) to infiltrate your life, and personalize your online experience.

    Companies use Facebook to turn profits. And although there is a shift to wider acceptance of online communication, I think its important that we are aware that the information we disclose on social media sites is readily available to any who will pay Facebook.

    Sorry If that came off as a rant, I don’t blog much… Online communities are and addicting thing. Step away from the machine. Give yourself time to think about how transparent you are online.

    Hit me back. Ill get you some literature. Thanks

  4. Alison Says:


    Just read the piece on and it was great. As a marketer (sometimes blogger), and self-proclaimed social-media addict, I really appreciate the effort you’ve made with this experiment. I am excited to hear your reflections after you’ve “been out”.

    Good luck, enjoy your last few days, and keep up the good work!


  5. Tom Says:


    I don’t suppose there have been many Slaughterhouse Five jokes? I.e. being on exhibit in the zoo.

    I haven’t read all your entries yet, but look forward to doing so. Saw a reference to the “audience” in the text that Joshua wrote and the move back to our “traditional role as a audience.” Being a playwright who enjoys playing with the nature of authorship as well as audience, it is interesting to note the choice by Joshua of an Aristotelian viewpoint on the purpose of theater (empathy) and wonder what the catharsis will be? Obviously, for you getting outside the glass will be pretty significant, but will it translate to your viewers/audience? I think your work actually reflects a more Brechtian approach to audience involvement, that is, deemphaszing and breaking the empathy and foregrounding the political: making people aware of what might be overlooked (intentionally or not) and encouraging them to do something about it.

    Also, I’d be interested in your take on the nature of life as performance (as well as your role as audience to the world around you); besides being ‘viewed’ by an audience of passers-by. It’s also interesting that the comment above, by Pete, who noted that he was embarrassed to watch. You’re doing a very interesting installation/theater piece.

    When I was in college my roommate for a while was Ron Toms. I’ll email him and ask him to bring you a bottle to celebrate your breaking out of the glass.


  6. ech,just me Says:

    Unemployment is making me go totally unplugged this week. Cell phones will be disconnected. We have no home phone. Cable not dish exists for us. Now that my project friend is isolation reality for us unemployed.
    Keep up the good blogging when you’re done tho…it is nice.

  7. Alan Says:

    I got the CNN piece referred to me. Interesting thing you’re doing here.

    I have a client who holds office meetings by video chat, even though the greatest physical distance between the furthest two people in the office from each other is less than 100 feet. (There are two remote employees, still…)

    The connectedness such media create is a false connectedness. It’s superficial and involves very little real contact or connection.

    Thank you for provoking serious thought. Feel free to contact me if you like, I have to imagine you have a lot of interesting insights to offer on this and other things.

    Oh, I shoot and produce here in MN. Not going to duplicate your project, just found it fascinating.

  8. Steve Says:

    I do hope that, more so than your father moving away from the use of social media, that your mother takes a few more steps alongside him. This is another transition in their lives together, and one that MUST be made hand in hand.

    Hand in there, and I am very happy to hear that you and your father are reconnecting.


  9. David Says:

    Hey, just found out about your project on cnn. I think it’s super cool what you are doing though I understand it can be maddening at times.
    I’m about to do a something similar using a product called looxcie but I’m waiting for the hardware to be revised for the iPhone.
    I like what that girl made for you on your window for thanksgiving. Who is she?

  10. Marsha Says:

    Hi Cristin!

    Just read the article on CNN — and I’m fascinated. I look forward to reading your blog. You are a much stonger woman than I think I am. Congrats on 20 days and good luck through the next ten. I’m sending you a Go Cristin vibe from IL!!

  11. Elle Says:

    Hello Cristin,

    Interesting project…and a good point being made. After reading about your not feeling well, I was just wondering if you have done anything to create negative ions in there with all of those positively charged gadgets around you (I’m not a sales person, just a concerned observer)? Have a lovely day!

  12. Martha Mukaiwa Says:

    I love this whole thing and it is such a coincidence because my friend Jean-Marc and I were talking about this yesterday:

    He set his status on facebook as:

    “you know when you suddenly realise how many narcissists there are around you; that there is something mortally and incomparably fucked up in the world today. Moments like that come and go, but I had one of those today”

    And I commented:

    “It is something that sickens me from time to time but it is also something that one cannot get away from. I think a word that will characterize our generation is “narcissistic”, in fact I think in our digital and social world if you aren’t… a narcissist or if you don’t at least pretend to be or propound narcissistic qualities you practically don’t exist.

    Take a look at the lives we lead on facebook for instance, who doesn’t feel the pressure to represent their lives in a favourable way, in a way that inspires envy or recognition?

    Pictures of your weekend, with you looking pretty/handsome and a
    comment on how wonderful your weekend was, your job is, your life is, your holiday is going to be, your boyfriend/ girlfriend is.

    Circa 2011. Narcissism is Life.

    Even the trend in existentialism is on that train, hardly anyone says “the secret to life” is helping others or your community or understanding humanity. All popular texts and tomes are about you, bettering yourself, attracting health and wealth to yourself, how to get thinner, be better looking, etc. And when you stand back and take a look at it all…it’s sickening and nihilistic to the point of a twisting in your gut. But it’s also life.

    One can feel so empty when people aren’t cheering for their existence whether it’s on a stage or on your facebook. The way I see it, it’s the era of personal branding and everyone has to be their own copywriter, creative editor, image consultant and biggest fan.

    Everyday you can monitor and censor images of your self, like and comment on statuses to express your views and associate yourself with certain books and quotes and films. We are stuck in an endless selling ourselves. A ceaseless job interview. To who and for what? I don’t know.

    In the end, I think we are all narcissists it’s just the depth in which we are wallowing in ourselves that varies.”

    So yes, we are talking about this and slowly acknowledging the pitfalls and repercussions. I am so glad I stumbled upon this story. All of the best with the rest, Cristin. I’ll be watching your space…or lack of it. 😉

  13. Alex Says:

    Found you on CNN by way of Google New top headlines. I guess you can expect a lot more visitors and more attention to the project than you have been accustomed to in the last 22 days.

    I am not a part of this project or anything similar. I go inside my apartment, and presumably no one can see me through closed draped windows and almost complete darkness inside. Yet what caught my attention about your experiment is the isolation and reliance on technology to connect with the outside world, which is very similar to my situation.

    Since you began this project, has anyone written to you about how they are so estranged they are from this society that they “dropped out”?

    I was going to tell my story of “dropping out”. But I will refrain until I see an indicator of interest.

  14. rjm Says:

    what are you reading?

  15. Bob Says:

    I just stumbled upon this story, and found it fascinating. Good for you for stepping into the “box”.
    I’m sure we all have our unique visceral responses to what you’re doing…mine was of sadness.
    Communicating through the layers of technology can give some semblance of connection, but there is nothing like the fullness of being able to openly connect mind, body, and spirit with another person. I’m sure that your first embraces with those you care about will be delicious!
    Love is a wonderful thing!

  16. Deliriousfoodie Says:

    The beauty of missing my friends is diminished
    and social-media is a conversation never finished
    I’m also in a glass box
    Like lonely fisherman on the docks
    I am the four corners of the earth
    What’s the point of me ever leaving birth?
    As I look through the wall of unbroken shards
    I want to be free.
    I left and what I found was me =)

  17. Tia Sparkles Singh Says:

    Whoa there young lady, that’s an interesting experiment. You’re going to have a ton of site visitors today thanks to CNN!

    Funny that I should come across this article mere seconds after I thought “what would it be like to go offline for a month”. Maybe I can experiment with the other side of the coin hmm?

    Anyhoo, this is the first post that I read so wanted to wish you a very happy thanksgiving and last 10 days in the glass maze. I’ll be seeing ya! Tia

  18. Sarah G. Says:

    Hi Cristin,

    I saw an article about the experiment on CNN. I work as a social media specialist, which means I am constantly on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. I’ve noticed that I have a dependency on social media (and the same goes with my co-workers) because of the business we are in.

    It does feel like a form of isolation: even though I am connected to people around the world, I feel even more alone than I did previously.

    I think that this experiment is a great idea and is inspiring for me to turn off my social media sites (when I’m not working, that is) and have real human conversations again.


    –Sarah G.

  19. Alex Says:

    @ Sarah G.

    1. Who would you have “real human conversations” with?
    2. What would you talk about? Would anybody really be interested? Would anybody really connect with you?

    It’s not that hard to say “I want to go offline and ‘get a life'”. The hard part is discovering that you will almost certainly be the only one in your area doing so in a meaningful way. You will notice that almost EVERYONE is consuming media products, texting, distracting themselves and generally living in a delusional fantasy world. Sure, you might get a polite ‘hi’ or a few seconds of superficial gestures…but getting any deeper seems damn near impossible. And considering that so many people are now mere reflections of the media products they consume—“you are what you eat”—why bother? Do you really want to hang out with people who are going to regurgitate what they saw on TV or in a film? Do you really want to listen to another unoriginal media zombie ape The Situation or Snooki, or try to act like a rapper?

    The only people I want to talk with are original people, with their own minds, their own creative personalities, their own feelings, their own sense of purpose and perspective. Finding these folks, and then finding these kinds of folks in a state of being open to meeting and making new companions, is much harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Triple the difficulty if you are new to your area, if you aren’t perceived as “wealthy and well-connected” (as a man), or if you aren’t perceived as “hot” (as a woman). In the real world, people only want to talk to you if they want something FROM YOU (there are no genuine exceptions).

    Want to really see how isolated you are? Go around one day, asking random strangers what they feel is “the purpose of life”. Watch their eyes glaze over, watch them look around for ANYTHING to distract them from this kind of inquiry, watch the excuses start flowing, and notice them try to send you away with some sound-bite crap they heard from Mommy Professor or the Electronic Synagogue (AKA TV/movies). They dare not think about “the purpose of life” in any serious meaningful way, because that would have terrible convicting consequences for their own lives. No one will admit to being a hypocrite. No one will admit that their lives are based upon a house of cards. No one will face that fact their their entire public persona is an equivalent of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” story, and no one will admit that they are just like the crowd of people in that story who stand around acting like everything is fine/”normal” and who then rebuke the honest little boy who threatens their phony status quo with the truth.

    When you see that, you will feel alone, you will feel resentment, and you will become damn near misanthropic. Do you want to befriend the Emperor (the bastard “elites’) or do you want to befriend the sheeple?
    Lovely choice, isn’t it?

  20. Martha Mukaiwa Says:


    Wow, you are quite the pessimist aren’t you? I am sorry that you haven’t met anyone who “doesn’t want something from you.” What do you do for a living? Hand out twenty dollar bills? I think you have blanketed the situation so heavily that you sound like you have an antisocial personality disorder. I also think that you hold your views and opinions in such high regard that there is no way people won’t fall short of your standards and expectations. In also think your attitude can come across as very off putting.

    Do you really think harrassing strangers about what they think the purpose of life is is going to win you any friends? No, it’s going to freak them out and they are going to cross to the otherside of the street, bus, universe.

    With that said I agree with you a lot of people are totally plugged in and can’t hold a conversation without texting, facebooking or what have you but have you ever asked anyone to stop doing it? Have you ever said: “Hey, I’m trying to talk to you” or “Let’s go for a coffee, me and you, no phones, no computers, just us.” Sometimes it is as simple as calling attention to or excluding something that has become so much an auxillary to life that had someone not been asked to eliminate it the thought would never have crossed their mind to do so.

    What I am saying is send the person you are interested in talking to a Facebook request, a request to not use Facebook or any social media when they are in your presence. Try it, you may be suprized at how people respond. It is not much to ask and if they acquiese you may be one step closer to finding the type of person you are after. You could be like all-dancing, all-singing mini vacation from the incessant thrumming of the textual cacophony.

    I don’t see the point in being a misanthrope when human beings are the only company available to keep. With that said I met one of my best friends via Facebook. When we met and attended the same university it was all air kisses and superficiality but when by chance we struck upon a subject on facebook we didn’t stop talking almost daily for two years and we didn’t talk about Snooki. I must admit that today we are no longer friends and that’s only because we tried to drag the intensity we have online into reality which didn’t work. But during that time when I was feeling quite misanthropic I found someone to alleviate that feeling and restore my faith in the human race. So don’t snarl and write us all off, just work harder, dig deeper and don’t be aggressive about it. No one likes to feel like they are being attacked or judged.

    As for the people who want to have “real human conversations”? They’re out there, they’re just hidden in the noise and perhaps a little afraid to stand with you in the silence.

  21. Cristin Says:

    @Miles-Love to learn more. Email me at
    @Tom-You raise a good point I am now thinking about a lot more….my view looking out.
    @David-I can’t say.
    @Elle-No I didn’t. That would be smart.

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Cristin Norine and Joshua Jay Elliott