This month I've been trying to stay offline more (another post about that to follow), but I thought I'd talk a little about why it's good to unplug.
I'm not anti-technology, although I don't like certain kinds of technology and certain uses of it. It's become more than something we use in our lives; it's become our way of life. It's here to stay, and I'm okay with that. Obviously--here I am typing up a blog post. I like being able to stay in touch with friends and family who are scattered across the country (and sometimes in other countries), and I like that I can learn about things quickly and easily. I'm not advocating for getting rid of the internet, but as always, I'm in favor of getting some perspective. Because cell phones, computers, and everything else digital have become our way of life, when we unplug or reduce our dependence on them, we see our lives differently.
1. I get more done. Computers and smart phones seem like the ultimate tool of productivity--and for certain kinds of work they are--but there are lots of things I'd like to get done each day that require some elbow grease, creativity, concentration, and reflection. I don't need a keyboard for that, and being in front of a screen usually keeps me from getting the other stuff done.
2. I'm more selective. About everything. For example, who I talk with and when, what kinds of products I really want and need, how much information I'm willing to share, and what subjects are really worth my time reading about. When I'm online, I get snippets of every bit of information out there and it's hard to filter out the stuff that I wouldn't normally want in my life.
3. I do more physical activities. Think about how much time you spend sitting because you're at a computer. When I'm not online, I have a hard time just sitting around.
4. I don't feel disconnected. When I first deliberately took some time off from Facebook, I felt like I was missing out, but now I don't. I can check it a lot less often and still feel connected, and I'd bet that if I just dropped Facebook altogether ("defacing" myself as one of my colleagues put it), I'd feel more connected to the people and places in my vicinity. The point is: there are different kinds of connectedness.
5. I have less eye and neck strain. Again, increased physical movement helps, and if I'm not bent over at my computer all the time, I'm usually in a more comfortable, natural body position.
6. There is more "quiet" in my life. I don't feel like I'm pulled in so many directions, and there's less chatter.
7. I get out more. I don't just mean out to the coffee shop; I also mean day trips to nearby cities. Basically, I get to see and experience more things.
8. Overall, I feel like I'm living my life and focusing on the things that are most important for me rather than following what someone else thinks is important for me to know. I can avoid a lot of advertising and political nonsense. Instead of getting angry at the hate and ignorance out there, I can concentrate on being the change.
You don't have to unplug forever and go live with the Amish. But, consider taking some time off occasionally.