Just as much as the next person, I love instagram. There’s something kind of soothing about scrolling through pretty pictures at the end of your day. But there’s also something sad when the next thing you know, it’s 9pm and you’ve barely said anything to your significant other. Tech can be addicting. Computers, smartphones, tablets, and tvs, we’re surrounded by a constant barrage of media and entertainment. While we’re probably staying more informed than any generation before, we’re also becoming more detached.
While I’m sure there are many of us that can’t fathom the thought of cutting the cord for any extended period of time (BUT WORK!!), I’m just wondering how people got any work done 20 years ago when email wasn’t attached to their hands 24/7. Also a while back, we didn’t have a tv in every room of the house, nor computers or tablets. So what did we do?
Well, Devin and I decided to find out. We were painfully aware of our connection to our phones, tv, and tablets, so we set our sights, not on the screen, but on turning it off. For one night a week, Tuesdays, we would shut down and reconnect, the old fashioned way.
For the past month, we’ve been enjoying time without the distinct ring of a text or incoming email. Our evenings start by focusing on each other – and dinner (FOOD). It’s as though we have more time to cook and enjoy the process than evenings when we’re tapping away on a screen. We talk, real conversations, but there have also been times of silence, which is also just as nice, especially at the end of a long day.
We’ve also been blessed with beautiful evenings, albeit, humid. So like the 90 year old couple that we are, we’ve started taking walks. It’s as though these walks have reminded us how much we love where we live. It wasn’t too long ago (4 months), that we couldn’t wait to get out of our apartments and move into our new townhouse.
And we read. YES – READ. A book, a magazine, whatever. The point is that we’re engaging in something that holds our attention for more than 60 seconds. This is why many advocate for going tech-free certain times during the week. Compared to reading, social media and other apps encourage us to make a habit of multitasking our relationships (a quick like on Instagram, and a brief “Happy Birthday” on facebook). Phone calls and talking in person hold our attention and allow us to more truly connect with someone. Even though we often think that social media allows us to stay in contact more easily.
But, studies have shown that spending too much time online can actually harm relationships than help. Why? Call it the comparison trap. Seeing a friends recent trip to the Dominican or a cousin’s new car purchase can make our own lives feel inadequate. And guess what, seeing the pictures or checkins from a friend’s birthday party doesn’t give us the same satisfaction as actually attending.
So….When is tech ok (based on our rules)? When work is so chaotic, we allow ourselves to check email as needed, however we’re less likely to get caught up in checking it every 5 minutes. Also, if we’re calling family or friends. Phone calls are awesome.
Let’s be honest, it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s hard to put down the phone or turn off the TV (Game of Thrones calling your name). But if you’re up for calling it quits a few times per week, where do you start? Here are a few ideas:
- Start a family phone basket policy. During dinner, everyone has to put their phones in the basket and the basket is put into another room. Once dinner is cleaned, everyone can have their tech back.
- Pick one evening a week where no tech is turned on (like us!). Stick to it, like Meatless Monday. You’ll be surprised how you can’t wait for it next week!
- Create a tech curfew: choose a time each night where you turn tech off. Maybe it’s 6pm, maybe it’s 8pm.
- Buy a book. Give yourself a deadline for when you’re going to finish it. For me, the more immersed I am in a good book, the less I want to stay glued to my phone.
- Write a list of all the things that you do each day: eat dinner, drive home, go for run, sit on the couch, spend time with family, then examine which of those things would be better without your tech. Maybe spending time with family playing a game or going for a walk?
If you want to learn more about going tech free, I really enjoyed this article from Greatist.
Have you decided to unplug? If so, how?
Now, go log off