Living Unplugged: Life in Real Time

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.

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(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.

Best,

Regan

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7 thoughts on “Living Unplugged: Life in Real Time

  1. Regan,
    It is good that you realized that you should have put your phone away rather than miss one-on-one time with your father! Now you can remember that the rest of the time you are at home. It is hard to see limits, and it is hard to unplug, but there are ways to accomplish it. There is a time and a place for the Internet, and I hope everyone is able to figure this out some day. Great read!

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  2. Regan,
    I am really glad that you notice this about yourself. I think that in itself is a huge step. Then you can work towards changing it. You are right, technology will always be there, but our friends and family won’t, (as none of us are immortal). Plus, family and friends sometimes move away. So i think you are being wise in training yourself to spend less time on social media and spend more time listening to and interacting with family and friends in person.
    Skyler

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  3. Such A great post. I think it’s great that you are able to set limits for yourself and are aware of the effects that to much tech can have on real life relationships. I agree that there is definitely a time and a place for the internet, unfortunately for most it takes an experience such as yours with your father for us to learn that, fortunately you were able to learn from that experience. Great insight!

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    1. Limits are beyond important. It’s odd because I used to always think that I had strict ones in place, and compared to others I did. However, it became clear this week that some new limits needed to be set as well. Thanks so much for the read and the comment, Danielle!

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  4. specialeducation9938

    With everything in our society today being geared towards technology, it is easy to loose sight of what is right in front of us sometimes. Changing priorities when it comes to technology is hard, but you are proving that it can be done! You will not regret putting family & friend in front and the digital world in the back. That is time you will never regret and wish that you could get back! Great post!

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