The Disconnect

I just read an interview with the publisher of a new online magazine, The Disconnect. The interview’s title pretty much says it all, “The Online Magazine You Can’t Read Online” (Nautilus, 16 Aug 2018). Wait, what?

The preamble to the interview explains. When you visit The Disconnect, you are greeted by a window that demonstrates the magazine (like most web sites) can track your presence. It displays information that identifies the browser you are using, your time zone, and your hardware device. If you proceed to the magazine’s home page, you will be instructed, “Please Disconnect from the Internet. This is an offline-only magazine of commentary, fiction and poetry.” In fact, you cannot read past the first 500 words of any magazine content while you are online. If you try, the content will vanish.

The interview reveals more about Chris Bolin, the software engineer who created the magazine, and his views on round-the-clock internet connectivity. Spoiler alert: he thinks words like “addiction” are too facile, but he is forthright about turning off his apps, even his internet connection, in order to get work done.

Personally, I wonder if he was inspired at all by the rhythms of meditation practice. In our weekly sessions, we take our seats, still our bodies and our minds, disconnect, and then what? Our thoughts reappear. They flow right through us until that magical moment when our awareness (which, in a nod to modern technology, we might call our Internal Thought Tracker app) catches on and says, “oh, thinking”. And the “screen” goes black and we disconnect.