There’s something to be said about “unplugging” for a few days, and I have to admit that I think that everyone should give it a try! We’re all so caught up with constantly checking our emails, Facebook, Instagram and the like that we seem to be missing what’s right in front of us.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for social networks and the amazing friends that I’ve made and the opportunity to see and read things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see if I wasn’t connected. And yes, when there’s nothing to do I’m the first one to pick up my phone and check out my FB feed or flip through images on IG. But there’s also times when I catch myself taking a picture of something and not two seconds later I’m posting it to FB – am I really that addicted?!?
I started to really notice this a few months back at a restaurant when we were out for dinner… I looked around and realized that no one was actually talking to one another at their tables. Instead, they were either busy taking pictures of their food with their phones (I still don’t get that LOL), or heads down transfixed on the glowing screens in front of them. It dawned on me that sadly, we as a society no longer interact with one another when face to face. It was at this point that I adopted the rule with our family that when we go out to dinner, the first person to pick up their mobile device is the one who gets stuck with the bill! And yes, this did quickly change the dynamic of going out to dinner for us at least.
I have a friend who does this at social gatherings at her house. When you walk in the door, you leave your cell phone with your car keys on the side kitchen counter – no excuses, no exceptions. I look forward to going to her house just for the fact that everyone is engaged, happy, and actually interacting.
Recently I went on vacation and took a cruise to the Bahamas, which meant that I wouldn’t be connected to the outside world for four entire days – GASP! I was beyond excited at this prospect because I could actually unwind and relax without any interruptions. I will mention that there was WiFi service available for purchase on the cruise ship but to be honest, I refuse to pay what I felt was extortion to the cruise company for something that should be free. I’m sorry, but it’s 2015 – you can get WiFi on an airplane for either free or basically dirt cheap so I don’t understand why the cruise companies haven’t figured this out yet LOL
My partner had quite a bit of apprehension about being ‘disconnected’ from the outside world. Now granted, his job requires him to be ‘available’ pretty much at a moments notice but in reality, that isn’t the case – we just MAKE ourselves ‘available.” And since our cruise was a Friday thru Monday sailing, I didn’t see what all the drama would be about because it would only be over a long weekend anyways. Yes, it was kind of strange to pull out of port and all of the sudden there’s no service and I actually witnessed people who were going through some bad digital withdrawals and finally paying for the WiFi because of their separation anxiety. It was sad to see that the longer we were on board, more and more people were re-connecting with their devices and not with the people around them, let alone missing all the beautiful sights.
By the second day of vacation, I found that I wasn’t even checking the time on my phone (since I don’t wear a watch) and was enjoying just being in the moment of whatever I was doing, something that I now realize I forget to do when I’m at home. I also realized that the only time I even thought about my phone was to take a picture to capture a moment. At no time did I miss that connection to the outside world – and the world didn’t stop either LOL I found that I was using all my senses again, something that tends to get numbed when you’re so reliant on technology. I walked the streets of Nassau and took in the smells, the sounds, everything around me. When we went snorkeling, I simply laid back on the boat ride and let the wind blow through my hair, felt the sun on my skin, smelt the sea air and was content in just being there, in that moment.
What I also discovered was that being disconnected from the outside world was what my relationship needed. I would say that my partner and I have a very close, strong relationship after 18 years. With technology being absent, I felt like we had just met again – no interruptions, talking and laughing, being adventurous. We were talking and experiencing what was important to US, not what someone posted online, the text that just came in or the email needing our attention. And this is something that we brought home with us from the trip as well – our world doesn’t need to, nor should it, be controlled by technology or having to always be ‘available’ for our jobs or other obligations. That rule should only apply to ourselves and our family, putting that first above anything else. Everything else can wait, the world won’t end if we don’t instantly reply to a text or email. That’s how it was before we all became attached to our mobile devices, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be the same way now.
No, I didn’t throw my iPhone into the sea LOL But I have returned home with a new appreciation of being in the moment, of being present. I’ve had more than a few online friends message me since I’ve returned “What’s going on? Where have you been? Is everything alright?!? I haven’t seen you online.”
Correct…. I’ve re-prioritized things a little bit. The most important thing that I brought home from vacation wasn’t the pictures and souvenirs. I returned back to the main land with a new appreciation of enjoying what’s immediately in front of me, surrounding me in that moment. No, I’m not giving up being part of the social media community or canceling my internet service. But I am much more aware of being present in what I do and savoring real life experiences over technological moments.
My weekend challenge to my friends and family is this – unplug this weekend. Go ahead, give it a try… I know, it might be a little difficult at first but I guarantee that by Sunday you’ll have a new appreciation for what you’ve been missing all around you. Let that email inbox fill up, allow that Facebook feed to scroll on by without you. I promise that it will all be there waiting for you Monday morning, and that the world did not end.