We spent the day turning our smartphones on and off, date, WiFi, 3G, 4G. We drove and got excited when the road offered us a spot of data, a small area where our phones would finally connect to the outside world. Our hearts leapt at the chance to stare at that small screen again, on the off chance someone somewhere had thought of us enough to text, message or tag us.

24 hours later, the data had gone. A black hole for technology, battery draining as quickly as my patience. So when I went to bed. sliding between white sheets in our little attic room, I thought I’d try one more time. But as I turned on the glowing screen yet again, I stopped. I’d come away to get a break and reset, to to spend time with family, to laugh and explore and remember. How much of these precious few days would I remember if I was constantly distracted by the possibility of an interaction on social media?

I looked at my phone, still trying to update the Facebook status from 4 hours previously. I looked at it and then I turned it off and the world around me suddenly grew.

A strange sensation as my hearing sharpened and I became aware of objects at the periphery of my vision. I noticed the soft carpet, the crisp linen. I felt that I’d been away for a long time, and suddenly awakened, returned back to a world I’d left behind in favour of a 4 inch rectangular screen. I breathed in and turned over in the bed, looking forward to the next day, filled with senses and smiles, followed by another, and another.

When technology is such an integral part of our lives it’s almost impossible to imagine even a few days without it. But I think it’s important to try, even only once in a while, to turn off the electronics and be aware of what’s around us. To become unplugged. In an international 24/7 world, where you can get the answer to any question at the touch of a button, it’s important to take a little time to wonder, imagine, and focus on the tiny stuff. The immediate moments, the small world that, as it turns out, is much bigger than we think.

5 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. During our vacation this summer, we didn’t plan a lot ahead of time, instead we looked for things to do in the areas we were in. What transpired was that I spent a lot of time in the car using my phone to find places to go/things to do. Looking back, I missed so much scenery because I was staring at my phone screen. Questions would lead to research, google maps was on a lot, and I was too focused on my phone. While I enjoyed the spontaneity of our trip, I need to learn how to do this a little more unplugged.

  2. Yes! My phone went flat one afternoon last week. It was brilliant. I realised how, subconsciously, my ears are listening out for txt notifications, how I check twitter and instagram when I’m bored. Instead of doing all those things, because I actually couldn’t, I sat with my daughter while my son was getting a haircut and she told me about all her pre-teen friend struggles at school, how she was really feeling, and I was fully immersed in the conversation and in giving her the empathy she needed. I was also fully immersed in the experience of going to our favourite cafe for gelato after the haircut 😉 I did miss having my phone on as it is my watch, but we didn’t need to be home at a particular time so it didn’t matter so much. I’m trying to figure out how to make that work as a regular, everyday thing, challenging as I use my phone as a metronome at school (I’m a music teacher) so it is always on, and it is also my husband’s preferred way of asking if there is anything I need at the supermarket (I don’t want to lose that particular connection! I’m always forgetting something!) but the freedom from distraction while it was properly off, not just silent, was so freeing.
    (sorry, I’m writing very long responses today!) 🙂

    1. Thanks Clare (I love long responses don’t apologise!)

      It’s incredible, even when we don’t really pay attention to our phones, how much we’re subconsciously listening out for them… Even when I have my phone on silent, which is pretty much every day, I still find myself checking and checking and checking.

      It’s amazing how much bigger and immersive the world is when we are free from our technology. I wouldn’t do without it, but I wish I could learn to let go a little more. I sense a challenge coming on!

      🙂 Sal

    2. Clare, I found buying a watch made a huge difference as I’d been using my phone as a watch and therefore was exposed even more to the temptation to check. Would your metronome work if your phone was on aeroplane mode? Just a thought.

  3. Absolutely! Last week I gave myself boundaries around my use of my mobile internet and the results were amazing. My level of mindfulness increased exponentially and I was struck by how many small moments I had missed. I even listed some of them in my blog post this week as a follow up to my phone zombie ways. It has made such a difference and I noticed that I’m more inclined to use it when I’m managing overwhelming feelings (as a way to shut off/distract) or that there is a sense of urgency (often whatever I want to look up is neither urgent nor important). Making a concious choice is so important! Thanks for sharing.

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