In an age of technology where refrigerators can talk to smart phones and cars can parallel park themselves, how are we supposed to unplug? Giving up Facebook or putting down our smart phones seems just about impossible given the amount of connectivity we’ve become accustomed to. But is it good for us to be that connected all of the time?
Think about how much time you spend every day scrolling through a social network (or three), checking your email, or just checking your cell phone in general (even if it hasn’t rung). For instance, as I write this blog, my cell phone is sitting loyally by my side, patiently waiting for the next time I receive an email or a text from one of my kids. My phone is never far from my side, and leaving a notification waiting seems to be getting more and more difficult. Confessions of a smart phone user.
I’m not the only one who seems to be concerned about daily screen time. A recent trend called “unplugging” allots a certain amount of time without any of the usual technological conveniences to see how well one fares. Sound easy? Maybe not. Imagine going without phone calls, texts, emails, etc. even for a day. Feeling nervous yet? I’m already imagining missing that ONE email that makes the rest of my week a game of catch-up.
Even in the face of cell phone induced anxiety, I see what I’m missing out on by being tied to technology. I could be spending valuable time with my family instead of watching their funniest faces on my screen for 10 short seconds. I could be more productive at work if I freed myself from certain technologies. So what good does unplugging really do?
Spending time away from technology could open up massive amounts of time in my schedule that previously felt like they simply drifted away. By putting down my phone, I could have more time to get tasks completed at work, or even to read interesting industry articles to grow personally and professionally.
Part of our addiction to technology comes from our tendency to pick up our phones whenever we have the slightest moment of downtime. You see it around you. People waiting for buses, friends, or even appointments are constantly on their phones, finding something to “pass the time.” What if we started actually noticing what’s happening around us? Or talked to one another while waiting? I wonder if the connections we make online (through LinkedIn, etc.) could be made even richer by connecting in real life. How much more expansive would our personal and professional networks be if we took full advantage of the opportunities we were presented with?
We’ve all experienced the anxiety of thinking we’ve lost our cell phone or that feeling when an urgent email rolls into your inbox at 11pm and has to be fixed NOW. By taking time at the end of every day to unplug, you could wake up actually refreshed and ready to face whatever is ahead, rather than scrambling to fix something that could likely wait until morning anyway. Unplugging from time to time could cause more relaxation at work, at home, and in every aspect of life.
Now that you’ve read about a few benefits of unplugging, it might make you want to throw technology out the window and live life completely tech-free. (I said might...) Well, before you go off the grid, let’s remember how beneficial technology can be when used responsibly. My online network includes people from all over the nation, some of which I’ve made our acquaintance through the web. If we work to strike a balance between our plugged-in and unplugged time, we can learn to use both to the fullest.
Could you unplug for a day, or a number of hours each evening? Tell us in the comments below how you would spend your time away from technology.