Many of us live electronically scheduled lives where even our spare moments are filled with attempts to catch up with emails, text messages or Tweets. There is the sense that if you aren’t doing something, you’re wasting time.
In this world of hyper-activity, a new children’s picture book is making itself known. It is Tony Fucile’s Let’s Do Nothing! The story involves two boys, Frankie and Sal, who having exhausted every form of play they know, decide to do nothing! Ten seconds of nothing! The two young heroes face the same challenges and struggles most adults have when attempting to “drop out” for an afternoon, or more ambitiously, a whole weekend. The Zen-like art of doing nothing is harder than it appears.
There is a growing market for businesses selling the do-less/do-nothing experience. This fall the Marriott’s Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel is offering a “Zen and the Art of Detox” package that offers guests a “chance to revive yourself from an over stimulated world.” The package not only offers a deluxe room, but participating guests must surrender any laptop, cell phone or other digital devices upon check-in. To help make up for that temporary loss, the Renaissance stocks the rooms of detoxing guests with literary classics in place of the television, kayak lessons within a short walk from the hotel, and a series of other non-tech amenities.
It isn’t only luxury providers joining in. Billed as “the first board game café in Toronto,” Snakes & Lattes has dispensed with the free wif. It encourages its patrons to play games in an attempt to recreate the offline interaction of the past. It features 1,500 board games for its patrons. Several local bars in downtown Philadelphia have done this for years, including the offbeat Tangiers, which still features a mystery bottle of beer served in a sack.
Even technology providers are joining in. This summer the Swedish telecom provider Telia has offered an “internet-free” download allowing you to unplug. It also launched a series of internet-free zones in several Swedish locations, identified by map on the Telia site with specially designated zones where internet service is effectively blocked.
We are likely to see more variations of the do-nothing experience as businesses try to test the strange new territory where we, like Frankie and Sal, are actively seeking to be passive.
Have you found a way to do nothing?