Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Learning to Unplug

We live in an age where we are constantly connected, 24/7. Between laptops, tablets and smartphones, we are constantly alerted with little beeps and dings to every news story, email, Facebook post, text, tweet and more. When we send an email or message to someone, we sort of expect an instant (or near instant) response, because we're all so connected. Anytime we have a spare moment while waiting in line, sitting at a kid's practice or waiting for food at a restaurant we are checking social media, sending emails or answering texts. Many people get panicky if their phone is out of sight for even a moment. How did we ever survive in the days before smartphones? How did we ever  manage to go out for the day without staying on top of what everyone else is doing? And more importantly... what would happen to us now if we went just ONE DAY unplugged?

We would feel fantastic, that's what. Yesterday, I left my phone turned off on the counter, and didn't even open my laptop. I didn't have to work yesterday, and my family was all with me, so I didn't have to worry that someone would "need" to reach me. I figured that any emails or texts could be answered the next day. Without the distractions of email, blog and social media, I was amazingly productive. I had plans to start cleaning out and organizing our homeschool cabinet in preparation for the new school year, and I managed to accomplish that along with several other things. I also had time to pack up a picnic dinner, so that my family and I could enjoy an evening at the beach. While at the beach, I took in the sound of the ocean, the salt air on my skin, and the waves lapping at my feet. I enjoyed a walk along the beach with The Man, and watched my kids splash in the surf. And I did not "check in" or Instagram any of it.

While there are certainly advantages to being connected, I think that taking a break and stepping back can also be a very healthy thing, as sometimes we are more attached to our phones and the virtual world around us than our actual lives. We have a need to be constantly accessible to the world, but often we're miss what's happening right in front of us, because our nose is pointed down at our phones. Unplugging for a bit can give us fresh perspective. A chance to smell the roses instead of tweeting them.

Here is my challenge to you... turn off the phone, tablets, computers and screens. For just one day. One day. Remove electronic distraction for just one day, and see what it does for you. Tackle a project without interruptions. Eat a meal and savor it, without taking a photo of it. Enjoy some time with your family, without stopping in the middle of a moment to Tweet about it. Be Present, for just one day.

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