Living Life AFK

When you meet online acquaintances in person, you might say you’ve met them “IRL,” in real life. A documentary about the Pirate Bay (the group that facilitates online torrenting of copyrighted matter) introduced me to the term “AFK.”

AFK stands for “away from keyboard.” The explanation is that everything we do (including time spent on a computer or smartphone keyboard) is “in real life.” Therefore, they say, AFK is a better descriptive term.

This leads to the question: Are you spending a sufficient amount of time AFK?

When the majority of your workday finds you in front of a computer screen or on a smartphone, is it possible to spend even a moment AFK?

Can you have a conversation in your workspace without looking down at either of your keyboards? Can you stand in line for lunch without checking for Twitter and Facebook updates? Can you drive and ignore that text message alert that just sounded? Can you go to the restroom and be AFK?

How long has it been since you wrote down a fresh idea on paper with a pen or pencil, instead of typing it in a Notes app or speaking it to the Voice Memo on your phone? How long has it been since you walked your dog without your phone in your pocket? How long has it been since you spent an evening reading a (print edition) book or a magazine and stayed AFK? (Off the laptop or tablet?)

With summer here and trips to oceans and lakes on many agendas, you may want or need to find a place to stay that has Wi-Fi. But when you’re sitting on that beach chair at water’s edge, having a glass of wine, resting your toes in the sand, watching the sunset, don’t be checking your emails. When you’re down on the pier with your morning coffee, listening to the sounds of nature and distant fishing boats, don’t be scrolling through your Facebook feed. Be AFK.

I love our connected online world as much as anybody. But remember: The real world, the AFK world, has much to offer. As Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’

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