There seemed to be some disbelief when we talked to the kids about disconnecting from technology over a Spring Break vacation we took.
No text messages?
No mobile phone calls?
Can we write emails?
Nope. None of it. For nearly a week, we were completely cut off from the rest of the world. And it was amazing.
We had our mobile phones as cameras, but all the services were turned off. We were on a road trip, and it didn’t involve the information superhighway at all.
Deep inside, we know we all rely on technology a little too much. It’s clear when you’re disconnected how much that really is.
The average person over the age of 18 spent nearly 3 hours a day on a mobile device, according to research by ComScore. Of that time, we’re spending nearly 2 hours on the top five social media platforms, according to research by MediaKix.
MediaKix estimates you’ll spend about us much time in your life on social media (5 years, 4 months) as you do combined on eating and drinking (3 years, 5 months), socializing in reality (1 year, 3 months) and doing laundry (6 months).
So it’s no wonder I got an itchy texting finger after about three hours of being disconnected. In my job, my mobile phone constantly buzzes with tweets, text messages, emails and phone calls about what’s happening in the region. To have all that information stop abruptly was overwhelming. I felt so many phantom buzzes in my pocket.
Eventually, though, it was pretty amazing. When you reclaim some of that time spent surfing through what people had to say on Facebook, you realize there’s a whole world out there, especially when you’re on vacation.
The water was bluer. The sun was redder. Every experience was more vibrant. I truly enjoyed the natural surroundings. I took pictures, but not to share them so much but to keep them for myself.
We also communicated more with a seldom-used technology called “talking.” My children told me stories I’d never heard before, possibly because I’d been distracted by the buzzes and beeps of my devices. I told my children stories that hadn’t heard. They asked follow up questions.
Perhaps just as importantly, we re-learned how to live with a little bit of silence. There doesn’t have to be a constant buzz in our lives. It’s OK to unwind by being near people you love, without actively doing anything, for a little bit at a time.
So that’s what we did, for nearly a week. It was amazing and a joyful experience.
When we returned, we returned to all those different platforms. I find myself spending a lot less time reading about other people’s days on social media, though. It’s so much more rewarding to enjoy my own.