Logging Off by Nick Spalding

My ipad sends me a weekly usage report of my screen time. Considering I read a lot of e-books and watch a lot of sewing instructions on YouTube, the number can be a bit disturbing.

But what about those numbers if you have over 100 apps on your phone? Apps for dating, calorie count, exercise, sleep and health, maps, restaurant reviews, (or countless reviews on just about anything); apps to purchase food, apps on how to cook food; apps to order cloths and personal products; gaming, the vet and the endless amount of apps for animals. The list is infinite as the world just keeps inventing apps. I mean, who needs four weather apps? And of course there are the most popular apps to follow celebrities and influencers. Influencers may not be the kind of job you get with a college degree (yet), but it seems to be a growing dream for the young and restless.

Logging Off Book CoverSo when the app HowUPooing appeared on Andy Bellows radar, he knew he must pay the measly .99 charge. Andy felt that he absolutely needed to have the latest technology to monitor his irritable bowel syndrome. Andy has been having a lot of health issues of late, and HowUPooing just might be the tool he needs to narrow down the causes.

Andy is a thirty-six year old graphic designer and loves his job. Other than the countless hours he spends on the computer creating new and fresh ideas for companies, Andy is also hooked on a few other technology related hobbies. He loves Candy Crush, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name just a few. He is hooked and addicted.

But when a presentation for a client causes Andy to overstress, his IBS is not his only problem. He develops additional symptoms. Lock jaw turns his speech into mumbled sentences. He leaves the presentation in a panic and immediately begins Googling the traits. The results from lockjaw, sharp stabbing pain in the head, diarrhea, IBS, neck pain, shoulder pain, and interrupted sleep leave Andy panicked. After multiple websites that flag danger for the symptoms, Andy decides it may be time to call his GP, Dr. Hu.

Andy has lots of respect for Dr. Hu, until Dr. Hu calmly and rationally explains to Andy that his lifestyle must change. Dr. Hu recommends a digital detox! He swears that if Andy stops using all technology with the exception of only what he needs on his computer to do his job, all of his symptoms will go away.

But how is one to just give up cold turkey when you live vicariously through the influencers and celebs of the world? What would one do with all that time on your hands? How can anyone function without ordering takeout food and maneuver around without Google Maps? The Snoregasbord app is essential to monitor how many hours of sleep Andy is ‘not’ getting. How can he cope without it? He thinks about what this will cost him. He will have to go to the grocery store or at least restaurants and communicate with other people. He’ll have to go out to buy his clothes and light bulbs. This is quite a challenge.

Dr. Hu wants Andy to digital detox for sixty days. He decides to at least give it a try.

He hooks up his old landline phone and places his iPhone, iPad, PlayStation, Alexa and Kindle in a box, which he tapes shut and puts away. He unplugs his Ethernet cable and wipes all the apps and turns off the Wi-Fi.

To further convince himself that he needs a digital detox, his best friend, Fergus Brailsworth provides some added encouragement. Fergus writes for the local newspaper and convinces Andy that ‘Logging Off’ will make a great story for his readers.

And so Andy begins his journey. The first week is not disastrous, but the road ahead is blurry. His business is slow so he takes up reading. When he finishes his one lone book, he replaces the light bulbs. He gives his apartment a good cleaning. Business picks up a bit once the newspaper story gets out. He even answers a dating ad in the newspaper. Andy gets so caught up in his challenges that he decides to visit a new client in person instead of online.

But with these new adventures, come plenty of impositions; mostly in the communication department. There are of course positives; he is sleeping better and longer; his IBS is under control and his shoulder is no longer in pain. He has learned to take long walks and watch other people. After a few weeks he begins to adjust to his new way of life. And he begins to see that he is capable of making his life better. But he really misses his technology and his daily dose of celebrity highs.

Then one day he spots Lucas La Forte, an influencer on Instagram. Andy worships Lucas. When Lucas accepts a car ride from Andy, their worlds will collide. Lucas is a fraud.

Will Andy be able to continue his digital detox? And what happens when Andy becomes the influencer to his many fans who begin to recognize him from the newspaper article? Will Andy find enough courage to continue with the digital detox with only a few weeks to go? Is it all a lie? Is he really better off without his technology?

Nick Spalding is an exceptional writer and this subject is perfect. The story of Andy is so in tune with today’s culture. It’s funny and heart rendering. I really enjoyed this story.




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