Unplugged

IMG_0083My favorite part of getting my hair done has always been the chance to sit quietly in the salon, reading magazines with absolutely no literary merit while I’m waiting for the color to set.  I don’t have to talk to anyone; I don’t have to remember a word I’m reading; I can just sit and relax for a good forty minutes or so in an oasis of self-centered tranquility, with the added bonus of knowing that by the time I leave, my grey roots will be nothing more than a bad memory. Unless, of course, I forget to turn my cell phone off.

Because when I leave my phone on, someone is sure to call or text, or I’ll hear the familiar ding that lets me know I have a new email, and instead of having my peaceful “me time,” I find myself compulsively checking my phone to see just who wants me to deal with what.  And, of course, answering those texts and emails, or making a mental note to return a call. (I refuse to be one of those people who holds loud, personal conversations on a cell phone in a public place.)

Similarly, almost every morning when I get up, no matter how much I’m rushing around to get out the door on time, I sit down in front of my computer and check my emails, my Facebook page and my blog page.  I answer the emails, reply to or “like” comments on Facebook, and answer any comments on my blog.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to do this at the start of my day, but it has become as much a part of my morning routine as the Diet Coke I drink every morning.  Sometimes what I read on the computer screen makes me smile and starts my day off on a positive note, but other days I read about problems and issues that are very stressful, and I find myself irritated and crabby before I’ve even had breakfast.

I struggle to find a balance between the instant (and constant) connectedness that our technology provides and my need to have some personal space, or a chance to pay attention to what, or who, is right in front of me.  I’m not going to lie, I like the way social media lets me communicate with old and faraway friends, and I get a kick out of seeing their photos and sharing memories.  I value the way I can so easily get in contact with my someone when I need to (remember the old days, when we had to find a pay phone if we wanted to call someone when we were out and about?) My cell phone also makes me feel safer, since I know I can always call for help in an emergency.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be available to other people all the time.  I don’t want someone calling or texting me when I’m out to dinner with my husband or friends, when I’m finally, after a long session at the Humane Society, sitting down to a very late lunch, or when I’m trying to concentrate on my writing.  I don’t need to know instantly how many people liked my latest Facebook post, or even how many people have read my most recent blog post.  And I hate the fact that I have to remind myself of that, each and every time I hear my phone ding, or notice that I have 12 unread emails on my computer.

Maybe it’s because I tend to be compulsive, or maybe it’s because I’m a worrier (I don’t want to ignore a true emergency), but I know that I have to figure out a better way to live with my digital connections.  I have to find that balance between communicating with others and finding the time I need just to live my life in the here and now.  I know that’s not going to happen over night, but I’m going to try to do better.  I have a hair appointment this Tuesday morning, and the minute I sit down in the stylist’s chair, I’m turning my cell phone off.  It’s not much, but it’s a start.

28 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. I too want to be connected in an emergency but do not feel the need to keep up with everything every minute. In the mornings I check e-mails, Facebook, blog, etc as for so many years as I worked I had to stay in touch. Now it is more for fun and not because I have to. Good luck and enjoy your salon appointment.

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  2. I put the cell phone on silent and check when I have a moment to pay attention. Sometimes I’ve missed a call but I kind of like returning it on my own time. I, too, love the private mindless reading of gossip magazines in a waiting room and prefer if people leave me alone for a while.

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    • Yes, I’m going to start putting mine on silent a lot more often. I think having it on so I can “always stay in touch” is just a bad habit I need to break. And glad to know I’m not the only one who enjoys a good waiting room/hair salon magazine!

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  3. I don’t think there’s anything you can do to get away from it except turn it off. There is so much good associated with devices and social media but there is definitely a down side. As you suggested, it just has to be managed. Easier said than done.m, of course but there is no other way.

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  4. Yes, turning it off (or at least muting the sounds so I can’t hear it) is something that I need to do a lot more often. I know I’ll be happier, and certainly more focused. So it’s my goal!

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  5. It is hard to resist that urge to stay constantly in touch. When I come home for lunch on work days, I promise myself I won’t check my computer. Instead I turn on HGTV and watch “House Hunters International”. It’s relaxing to totally disconnect and daydream about buying a house in an exotic location! It’s a little like the magazines in your salon, I guess. I do enjoy texting as opposed to talking on the phone, though. I’m not a big phone person and only answer it when I really have to (thank goodness for caller ID)!

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  6. At the end of my driveway is a road and every day, I walk out to it with my dog and take a left then I take four more lefts and wind up back where I started. In other words, I walk around the block – except my block is six miles around. I don’t bother about the phone because for much of that walk – there is no signal.

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  7. The dual nature, +/-, love and hate and vacillate concerning the connect or cocoon conundrum. I’m phone phobic. I have one, and I’m told it’s smart, but for the most part, I keep that brainy little intrusive bastard in the jacket I was wearing… just yesterday. Whoops, no wonder I missed your call.

    A confident and well written post, Coleman.

    Regards,
    Doug

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  8. I have a lot of sympathy for your plight. Although I barely use Twitter and Facebook, I’ve become rather compulsive when it comes to checking my blog stats. I like the way modern technology has connected me to the world, but I just wish I was a little smarter about how to use it efficiently.

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  9. I didn’t think I was so addicted to my phone until my husband started requesting I stop looking at it so often. I don’t know if it’s habit, fear of missing out, or feeling the need to be in touch in case of an emergency, probably a combination of all 3. I do try and leave it at home sometimes when I’m out running but even then I worry that I may be neglectful not having it with me just in case….

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    • It’s really hard, isn’t it? I think I started checking my phone (and computer so often) just to keep in touch and in case of emergencies, but now I think it has just developed into a bad habit. And one that I am trying, with varying degrees of success, to break! Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Being plugged in is addictive… Like you, I check my various social media sites and emails while having a Diet Coke. I even check them while thinking, “Why am I doing this? I don’t actually care.” I’ve found that I have a hard time sitting in silence or “just being.” I think constantly being connected (while good on so many levels) has made us forget how to “just be” and how to sit with silence. It’s hard to find a balance. I hope you enjoy your peaceful and uninterrupted salon appointment!

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    • I think the biggest thing our “plugged in” technology has taken away from us is the ability to “just be.” And that makes me sad, because I think its such a healthy thing to do now and then. I’m working on getting it back, but it’s not always easy. And thanks, I did have a peaceful and uninterrupted salon appointment…it was great!

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  11. Addicted here too! I managed to delete my facebook though, and haven’t really relapsed. But going on you tube is the worst for me. I try though to occupy myself with doing chores to help my mom, doing homework, etc. I try so hard to keep busy. I also turn my computer off or phone once I’m done using it. A lot of the time I’m too lazy to turn it back on and go do something else haha.

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