The Unplugged Life

If you were to turn your phone off for an entire day, how would you feel?  A weekend?  What about a week? I’m guessing you’d feel pretty lost or fearful that you missed out on something.  Here’s another thought – what if you went on a vacation with absolutely NO technology?  No means of checking Facebook, Instagram, your emails (from home, blogs, or work), etc. If you have, you are pretty darn amazing.  How did it feel?  I can’t say I’m the golden child over here because I certainly keep it on my person all.the.time.  I don’t know if it’s a feeling of comfort, knowing I’m a phone call away from something, a distraction, or just the fear of missing out.

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I do try to unplug when we are in the mountains mostly because there is minimal reception, I’m far enough away from anyone that I can’t really make spur of the moment plans, and I’m so absorbed in the greenery (or white-space if it’s winter…yes, California does get snow and it’s some of the best!) that I don’t need to check in on what I’m missing out on or stay up to date with everyone’s adventures.

If you haven’t done this, try it out.  Pick a place that maybe doesn’t get the best reception or just leave your phone off while you hike.  No, I’m not saying you need to pull an “Into the Wild” sort of deal and disappear, but think about it – how many people do you see with a iPhone or smartphone in hand on a daily basis.  I think it’s become the new security blanket for adults.

I was at a friend’s party in the city on Saturday and towards the end of the night, one of the girl’s iphones broke.  Not in the way that it fell on the floor and shattered.  No, apparently that had already happened before.  Instead it was on top of a speaker and the speaker fell on it (I have a feeling she was dancing a little close to the speaker but she would never claim to have done it) and practically bent her phone into what looked like a technological lounge chair.  I’m pretty sure I would be quite upset to lose something so dear to my heart, at least in the sense it’s my outlet home, my main method of communication, and another method to express myself.  But in the end it’s a material good and can be replaced.  Well, I was on the other side of the room and just surprised at how this girl reacted.  She demanded to use her sister’s phone for the night and at some point in time, was in a conversation with her boyfriend and practically screaming how she was so mad she wanted to die.

I never really considered how addicted we have become to our cell phones, or really any piece of technology for that matter.  The moments I spend walking to and from the subway, riding the subway, and even throughout the city, I see people buried in their phone.

So what about staying in the moment?  One of my best friends and I discuss this every so often and she sent me a link the other day called “Becoming Minimalist – Unplug Please“.  I am by no means putting technology down.  I am far-beyond impressed by how it has evolved during the past several decades.  But there is a point where we need to set it aside and come back to the moment.  Some of the best points of the article include:

  • 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (source)
  • 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. (source)
  • 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television. (source) guilty here
  • Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls. (source) guilty here too…mostly as a safety tool
  • I’m sure you’ve all seen this YouTube video “I Forgot My Phone“, which follows the life of a woman and how absorbed her friends and even family have become with their smartphone, even more so than talking to each other.

I can already predict the new wave of clients who will have to ask for pain killers or physical therapy later in life because they spent too much of their prime straining their necks to see their phone.  I already feel like I’ve reached this sad stage based on the fact that my back kills me from sitting a majority of the day and my hand kills me from typing.  Who knows, maybe I’m getting carpal tunnel at the lovely age of 22. Ok, maybe a little dramatic and I know I need to stop reading into WebMd.com so much, but it happens.

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I’m working with some of the articles benefits of unplugging along with some tips: 

1. Remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness – (source) Did you know that most people actually feel worse after checking Facebook or some other form of social media?  Between feeling unhappy with their body to their relationships to their lives in general, it can be a black hole.  Of course it’s a good way to keep in touch with some people, but then what happened to phone conversations?  By unplugging, you can reset and refocus your life and become grateful for what you do have.

2. FOMO – Oh you know the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a HUGE trend now and had a huge impact on my happiness or sometimes lack thereof in college. Unplugging again resets our wants and expectations for ourselves, our days, and our lives.  We don’t have to do EVERYTHING just because someone else is doing it.

3. Searching for Solitude – Another reason I feel so attached to my phone is because living in such a big city, away from most of my friends and family can be lonely. Sometimes when I think about striking up a conversation with a friend, I notice they already have their phone out – checking twitter, instagram, facebook.  I wonder if I say something completely outrageous, I would get their attention.  I admit I have issues with “down-time” and yet solitude allows us to reflect on our lives and pinpoint what or who is really important.

4. “Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you.” The world is changing. End of story.  But as I’m sure you’ve heard before, the best moments occur right in front of you.

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I’m still learning the process of “unplugging” so why don’t you test it out with me?  I plan to stop relying on my phone as a distraction while eating, walking, definitely while driving. I want to avoid whipping out my phone to check the time, my messages, or play games.  Let’s try to look around us, go for a walk or strike up a conversation, even if it’s with someone completely random (I personally think those are the best).  Again, I’m not claiming to be the best example, I’m just asking that we start to consider such things a little more before we end up at 90, wondering what happened to the world and it’s beauty. 

“If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed, but that my eyes be opened wider.” – Jules Renard

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16 thoughts on “The Unplugged Life

  1. gah I so wish I could do this. I swear, I never ever turn off my phone. Ever. I can’t even remember the last time I went without it. I try when I go home to not take it with me everywhere, something I think I need to do more often here.

  2. I can go without my phone – but it IS a security blanket for me, and something I mindlessly do when I am bored. I was in Glacier and Yellowstone over the summer and I rarely had reception. I still kept it on me though (just incase) and did try to check things out of boredom or upload pics of our vacation. I would like to unplug from ALL technology – Netflix, phone, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I don’t want life to pass me by! 🙂

  3. Love this! I have been noticing lately how glued I am to my phone as a result of working several different jobs and managing a blog and Facebook page. These are some good tips. I definitely want to start disconnecting in the evenings. When my husband gets home I want to be able to focus on him and not my phone!

    • I bet that is a lot of work to cover but I love your idea of connecting with loved ones in the evenings. It’s much better to turn media off and have face-to-face dinners rather than distractions.

  4. LOVE. You have the best thought-provoking posts! I really need to be better about unplugging. I literally feel naked without my phone in hand at times, although I’ve gotten a lot better about leaving it upstairs at times. It’s something I really could work on. It makes me angry when I’m hanging out with people and they have their noses buried in their phones the whole time. I don’t mind sending a text here or there, or instagramming something, or even responding to an email, but when it’s constant, come on!

    • You are ever so kind Sarah! There are days when I feel too attached and then there are days where I completely forget to check my messages. I think I’ve gained a little perspective being in the real world and actually having a full time job to worry about. By the end of the day I don’t really want to be on every platform (even though I’m responding to this at night) 😉

  5. two big thumbs up on this post. when i was in asia i went with out a phone each time, (because it was useless there) at first it was really weird and i didn’t like it. but a after a week or so it’s such a freeing feeling, of not having to share with the whole world when you do something cool or memorable. i was literally just living and not worrying about the rest of the world seeing how awesome (or not awesome?) my life was. i don’t think my social media has ever gotten in the way of me doing things i want, but it really was nice not to feel the need to share it the second it happened.

    • Many many thanks. I’m sure we discussed this as some point or another. Once you are a few days in, you do feel more free. I use social media to catch up with people and become inspired to travel places or think different thoughts, but I don’t want to hinder my own insights to the world.

  6. I like this idea 🙂 I have definitely made more of an effort to unplug in recent weeks and have stopped checking my phone after 8/8:30 every night, but I would like to try and take it a step further by turning it off when I get home for a few hours to focus on family time. I know I’ll still sleep with it on (emergencies/in case my fam needs me), but I want to remember to turn it to vibrate, too, so the beeps don’t keep waking me up

  7. Wow Miss K you are addicted. I think it is also a generational thing. As you know when I carry a cell phone it is always off. If I know someone will be calling at a time when I am away from home base I will leave it on for a period of time but if the phone doesnt ring at the appointed time I will turn it off. BK

    • You are quite right about the generational aspect. While I do admit I am “addicted”, I am not nearly as bad as some individuals out there. It’s fascinating how various generations interact with technology.

  8. I’m definitely guilty of being attached to my phone constantly. However, when I went on vacation to Florida in October I was phone less for an entire two weeks and I didn’t die. Haha granted, I had my iPad, but I tried to spend as little time as possible on it, and I definitely didn’t carry it around with me all day! Unplugging every now and then is so beneficial!

  9. This is such a difficult thing to do, but I’ve found that if I leave my phone in my bedroom or somewhere away from me even for a few hours, I feel refreshed. It’s nice not having it next to me always. I’m also the type to not check my phone right away when I get a text. That’s just how I roll I guess, but it makes me feel good knowing that I don’t have to run to my phone every time the ding goes off for a text! I control my impulses there at least 🙂

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