Great Moments In #Unplug History

From Siddhartha Gautama to Thoreau to Mozart, and Kerouac to Jobs, Jordan, Nirvana, and the current cover of Fast Company, there is a deep tradition of turning off in order to power on. Before you seek your own #unplug path, find inspiration in these electrifying examples.

After one week of his digital detox for our current cover story, Baratunde Thurston, who is in his own words an author, consultant, speechifier, and cross-platform opiner on the digital life, realized that he had stopped thinking about his #unplug experiment and just started to live it:


“I was reading long books,” he recalls, “engaging in meaningful conversations, and allowing my mind to wander and make passive connections I had previously short-circuited with social queries, responses, interruptions, and steady documenting and sharing of unripened experiences.”

His ripened personal realizations have been backed by bountiful research: If you’re away from your phone, you’ll be more creative; if you rest more, you’ll produce more; and if you give yourself more time to think about problems, you’ll solve them faster.

But Thurston is not the first to withdraw from the world to understand something of himself–that tradition goes back at least 2,500 years. Which is why we’ve assembled some of those highlights above (and below)–and if you, dear plugged-in readers, have any further suggestions, do let us know.

[Image: Flickr user Samuel M. Livingston]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.