The Scroll: What Happens When You Unplug?

I recently read a story in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal about how one man decided to “disconnect – not from each other, but from one of the biggest time wasters for most Americans: Television.” In the story, he talks about how his life has benefited from not watching TV. Intrigued, I decided to try it out in my own life and take it one step further. For one week, I decided to not only remove TV from my life but also my smartphone.

Kim Rueb

Kim Rueb

I agree with the writer of the Business Journal story that TV is a time waster, but ever since I got an iPhone, I find that using it to engage in social media is a bigger time waster and can suck me in for hours. I easily find myself getting drawn into who posted what on Facebook and what new pictures are on Instagram.

I am the type of person who likes TV for background noise and almost always have it on, so in the first day of the experiment, I had to consistently remind myself not to touch the remote. Like the writer said, the programs I was watching were not anything of quality, especially the reality TV shows I get sucked into on the Bravo network.

In the past I found that at almost any free instant, I would take out my phone and “quick check” Facebook or Instagram or see if there were any new posts. But this “quick” look would easily turn into five minutes. It’s hard for me to even remember the time before my smartphone when I didn’t have countless apps and social media right at my fingertips every second of the day.

When I took these things out of my life, I felt liberated and I actually felt like I had more time in each day. I don’t always have to be watching something or looking at something on my phone. It is OK to just be quiet with my thoughts and to enjoy my kids without taking their picture when they do something cute. Just the other day, my 6-month-old daughter was intently watching her 2-year-old brother when she started laughing the most adorable little giggle. Instead of interrupting this beautiful moment by grabbing my phone to take a video, I stayed still and watched, recording everything in my memory and truly taking it all in.

I always knew this, but I realized even more that to really enjoy the moments in my life, I need to savor them and not interrupt them by taking a quick picture or video and posting it online. I will remember these moments even if I don’t record them and I will enjoy them even more by being fully present and not distracted by my phone or the TV. The time I have with my family and friends is precious, and they deserve my undivided attention, not to compete with any electronic devices or social media.