My most intense experience with being unplugged is when I vacation on a Greek island where my family has a small cottage. There isn’t any electricity, internet, phone, or television in our cottage. When I go, I stay for weeks at a time. I’m not completely disconnected from the outside world as I can use an office we have access to in the village for internet and to do my work. However, on the weekends I’m completely unplugged. I have to say that I am extremely uncomfortable with it. I can pass the time and occupy myself, that’s not a problem. What nags at me is the feeling of being completely disconnected and irrelevant. Ironically, being connected through digital methods of communication also makes me feel disconnected so I’m sure that I have an issue of feeling disconnected in general. However, without my phone or my laptop to check my email, social media, and to stay up to date on what’s happening in the world I found myself feeling forgotten and as if the world was passing me by and I was missing out on important occurrences or opportunities. I found myself mourning the loss of my phone and having access to the internet at my fingertips.
In my daily life my phone is rarely off. I barely go more than two hours without checking it to make sure I haven’t missed a call or text. I feel like if I’m not glued to my phone someone will think I’m ignoring them, my dad will think I’ve undergone a disaster, or I’ll miss an important work opportunity. I think our access to instant communication has made the world less patient and more demanding of near instant replies. I’m definitely guilty of assuming that people will reply promptly and that we are all glued to our phones. I’ll admit, I’m downright afraid to leave my phone at home at the risk of being rude and inconsiderate to anyone who should happen to contact me while I am away from my phone.
I didn’t have a cellphone until I arrived at college and didn’t use a computer regularly until then either. If I wanted to do something with my friends we planned ahead and when we were spending time together there wasn’t the third party of technology present. Life wasn’t lived so that photos could be taken, we weren’t concerned about posting our activities on social media, and I wasn’t reading snark daily on Twitter. I feel like life was really lived for the moment and more in the moment back then. We really didn’t have anything to take our focus off of where we were and what we were doing unless we were in our own minds.
I’m trying to find a balance and make technology my friend and not be a slave to it. I find that if I’m working on something it’s best to close out of everything on my laptop except what I’m working on and to tuck my phone away for a little while. Sometimes I leave my phone in the locker while I’m at the gym and spend a few hours away from it. I do feel a little bit of a guilty pleasure when I go for walks and leave my phone at home. It’s just me and my thoughts and if I’m tempted to tweet them or post them on Facebook I can’t. In the coming year I’d like to do this even more. I don’t want to be glued to my phone or a screen and miss out on conversing with people. I enjoy striking up conversations with complete strangers while waiting in line or waiting anywhere. You never know who you’ll meet and what kind of interesting thing you’ll discover. Hopefully, this coming year when I’m on vacation I won’t miss my phone and I’d like to become comfortable being without it for extended periods of time.