My lunch break today seemed just like any old ordinary day. My dad arrived home from school, and we had our normal lunch time catch up with each other. We exchanged “how’s your day going” questions, and he asked what I was working on in the office. Eventually, the conversation teetered out; I was on Twitter, and wasn’t really answering his questions. Instead, I was catching up on what my friends were doing and obsessively following the latest emotional heartbreak for me: Liam is going solo. (One Direction fans… Feel my pain) The news had just broke an hour earlier, and I was desperate to learn more. As I searched through the hashtag to find more news, I missed out on precious one-on-one time I could’ve spent with my dad.
I was not truly in the present. I was living life plugged in.
Naturally, I didn’t notice at the time why what I was doing was wrong. I see my dad every single day; surely one lunch break wouldn’t make a difference. However, if you know my dad, you know how wrong I am. My dad, loving as he is, doesn’t really keep up with me when I’m at school. He’s busy here at home and doesn’t have a ton of time to talk; we’ve gone longer than a month without exchanging even a text message before. So, instead of taking away alone time with him, I should have put my phone down and lived in the present, fully knowing that the Internet would continue to update me later on.
(Image CC: Flickr.com)
Living life tethered to our devices is a slippery slope. I think that we often do this because we feel connected through our correspondence online; however, what are we missing out on by staring at a screen instead of taking in what’s happening around us? We might miss out on a really awesome conversation or sight because our eyes are glued to our lit up screens. Mind Shift’s article What Happens When Teens Try to Disconnect From Tech For Three Days describes many teens’ obsession with their phones as a “habitual dependency.” It’s one that we do out of habit. Bored? Swipe right and open Instagram. Headed to bed? Scroll through your Facebook feed one last time. I think this dependency is one that we can all relate to, even if we don’t want to admit it. Thomas Namara, a senior involved in the challenge to disconnect for three days, said that disconnecting was ” a wakeup call for how dependent we are on technology.” Can you imagine completely unplugging from technology for even one day? Or are you a habitual user of social media and the internet?
I am (obviously) guilty of being a habitual user from time to time. I find myself paying more attention to my screen than to my friends or family. I honestly do have a hard time unplugging, even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever be “that person.” The one that is on their phone instead of laughing along with their friends. Two years ago when I got my first iPhone (I joined the smart phone world later in life), I told myself that I wouldn’t be that person. I had spent all of high school having it happen to me, and I vowed that I wouldn’t let myself get sucked into my phone. However, time and dependency has altered that a bit. But what can we truly do in a tech savvy world to unplug?
It’s important to set limits, and I normally do. My phone is always put away at the dinner table and if I’m having a talk with family or friends. I try to limit my time on it during the workday and allot myself time to look at things later that night. Unplugging brings peace to my day. I spend that time reading or hanging out with my little brother and family. Unplugging allows us to really take a breath and truly live life instead of just participating in it online.
I think it’s good for people to take a step back and just try to look at learning and friendships and socializing culture through a different lens- Thomas Namara
The most important takeaway from this week has been the fact that the Internet is amazing and valuable, but there is certainly a time and a place for it. We are able to connect with those far away by using our devices, but it’s also important to feel the freedom that unplugging brings. Stop Snapchatting and take a walk instead. Read a book. Really have a conversation with someone, not just a talk. Spend time with you and only you. Be mindful.
The Internet will always be there; this moment won’t.