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The Necessity of Time Unplugged

Learn to unplug from the online world so you can reconnect with the world right here, right now

Smartphone switched off
Photography by Lorenzo Rui

I love to travel. For my wife and I, travel is very much something we prioritize in our lives. We plan for it. She has long been a committed traveler and has awoken the wandering spirit within me.

Big trips and small, new places, different cultures, and getting further underneath places we’ve already been. Tasting the food, finding interesting places to visit, or just sitting with a glass of wine or cup of coffee, and soaking up the atmosphere. Experiencing where we are for what it is. It’s one of life’s great pleasures.

When traveling, we both like to spend large chunks of time unplugged from the online world. Sometimes, we enforce these breaks intentionally at home as well.

This time spent away is always refreshing. I feel no guilt about not checking into social media on a daily basis or scanning favorite blogs for updates. There are fewer distractions in my day so I can concentrate on what, and who, is in front of me instead.

Interestingly, when I come back online, I also never seem to have missed much.

These pockets of intentional time, disconnected from the digital world always feel like something of a mini reset. My thoughts seem clearer—my mind sharper and less cluttered.

Does this mean I want to run off into the woods and live, gadget free, with no sign of Wi-Fi? No, not entirely, although at times that can also seem pretty appealing. I do however, recognize that if I am going to make time to be connected, I also need to make space to be disconnected. Yin needs yang.

Strange Times, Stranger Behavior

We live in strange times. We can be contacted 24/7. Smartphones never leave our side; in addition we have tablets, laptops, TVs—the screens in our lives are multiplying. More and more of our time is spent plugged in. Literally. While the convenience of being able to hop online to shop, research, or to connect with others cannot be denied, all this time online can also be a curse.

We can become addicted to just checking in. But as we check into one world (the digital) we often check out of where we are physically. We lunch with a friend but obsessively check our phones for Instagram updates of a celebrity we’ll never meet. We take snaps of food or coffee served to us, so we can check in and share (read brag) online about how much we’re living the life, without really stopping to truly taste and enjoy the moment for all it’s worth. We walk to work with our heads buried in a screen, clock in to spend our day with our heads buried in a screen, then come home to bury our heads in… you guessed it, a screen!

Is more and more screen time ever really going to be the ultimate measure of a life well lived?

We need to look up occasionally. We need to prioritize living our lives over watching our screens obsessively. We need to harness the wonderful powers of technology at or fingertips without letting it run riot. We need to realize that we control how we interact with technology, not the other way around.

Spend a little time unplugged from the online world so you can reconnect with the world right here, right now.

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