Disconnected

Call me cheap, but on my recent trip to Ireland, I simply turned my phone off rather than risk paying enormous roaming charges while I was out of the country.  Like many people, I’ve grown very dependent on my cell phone, using it for phone calls, emails, texts and even taking and sharing photos.  I was a little nervous about going without my phone for so long  (what if there was an emergency and my family or the dog-sitter needed to reach me?), but my husband did have a phone that he could use to his check emails, and even make a (very expensive) emergency call if necessary.  So, as soon as we boarded the plane for Dublin, I turned off my phone, stuck it in the bottom of my purse, and vowed to just forget about it until I was back home.

I’d like to say that my phone stayed in the bottom of my purse for the entire time I was in Ireland, and that I always gave my full attention to that beautiful and interesting country.  But that wasn’t what happened.  I found myself reaching for it again and again, purely from habit, whenever I had a spare minute or two.  We’d board a train to travel to a new city, and as soon as we had settled into our seats, I’d reach in my purse and pull out my phone.  Then I’d remember that it was off and couldn’t be turned on, and quickly shove it back in my purse, hoping that nobody had noticed what I’d done.  I’d do the same thing when we were seated at a restaurant or pub, waiting for our food to come, and when we returned to our hotel room for a short break from sightseeing.  It was kind of embarrassing.

Eventually, as the week wore on, the fact that I was without a functioning cell phone finally sunk in.  I found myself not reaching for it anymore, or at least not as often.  And gradually, I not only got used to not having my phone turned off, I actually began to enjoy it.  True, my husband and I did exchange a few emails with our son and daughter on his phone (some connections are just too precious to break entirely) but otherwise, I was well and truly out of touch with my normal life connections. And I liked it.

IMG_0292I rediscovered how to just sit still and either think my own thoughts, or pay real attention to what was around me.  I spent the train rides staring out the window at passing countryside, admiring the stone fences, the quaint farmhouses and the little towns we passed through.  When we were stopping back at our hotel to change and rest, I’d actually close my eyes and rest for a few minutes, which did wonders for restoring my energy level.  And while waiting for our food at pubs and restaurants, I listened to the music, if there was any.  If there wasn’t, I spent the time actually talking to my husband, who was sitting so conveniently right across the table. I found myself both living in the moment and truly connecting with my environment, to an extent that I haven’t enjoyed in a long, long time.

Now that I’m back in the states, I have my phone turned back on. My time in Ireland didn’t entirely wean me off my cell phone habit, but it did make me see that I was letting my phone intrude into my personal life far too much.  So I’ve made the promise to myself to leave my phone in my purse, where it belongs, while I’m in the company of people I care about.  And I’ve vowed not to reach for it first thing in the morning, or when I’m just a little bored, or even when I feel conspicuous sitting among a group of people who are all staring at their phones.  Because truly, sometimes it’s better to be disconnected.

33 thoughts on “Disconnected

  1. Well done! 10/10 for effort! I get extremely offended when I am talking to somebody and their cell phone takes precedent… even when all they say is “I’m busy right now. I’ll call you back.” They really did not have to answer it unless they were expecting an emergency call of some sort, and courtesy should dictate that they advise me up front. “I’m sorry but if my phone rings I will have to answer it because……….” It is great technology, but it should never be allowed to take over one’s life as it seems to do with so many people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! Our cell phones are very convenient, but they do need to be “kept in their place!” I don’t know about you, but so often when I’m out in public and look around me, it seems as if almost half of the people are just staring at their cell phone screens, or talking on them. It’s weird!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, Ann! I don’t own a smartphone. My husband and I each have a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone for emergencies only. Occasionally they’re used to check with the pet sitters when we’re on road trips, but that’s about it. We get along perfectly well without expensive cell phones. When I observe almost everyone being so preoccupied with their phones, I just don’t get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I depend on my phone, but I put it away while I’m at work and I almost always leave it downstairs when I go to bed. You are right, it’s tempting to take a look when you’re bored or if everyone else is staring at their devices and I’m guilty during those times!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve got to start leaving my phone in the other room when I go to bed at night. Because if it’s late and I’m just about asleep, or very early in the morning and I’m just starting to stir when I hear that little “ding” that tells me I have a text, I jump out of bed and answer it. And nine times out of ten, it’s not an emergency or anything important at all! I think learning self control is the key to using a cell phone, but finding and keeping that balance is a challenge.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I have an irrational fear that if I turn my phone off at night one of my (grown) children will need me and therefore I leave it turned on just in case. Maybe this is why I wake up at 3:30 in the morning and can’t et back to sleep?… Thanks for the inspiration to disconnect on occasion.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Cell phones are wonderful in case of emergencies, no doubt about it. The trick, I think, is how to figure out how to just use them for that, rather than simply to keep boredom at bay. And how to realize that an unnecessary call or text really can wait until the time is right to answer it. It’s hard!

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    • Very smart! I was getting way too attached to my phone, compulsively checking it way too often. Now I try to remember that it’s just a phone, and needs to be treated as such. It is not supposed to be a source of continual entertainment, or a way of making sure that I am always in contact with everyone I know, always!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s brilliant that you were able to do this. I no longer have a working mobile (cell) phone and don’t miss it, but then I’ve never been one to keep in touch with people very much in that way – even the landline doesn’t get much use from me. But I have the same reaction when I have breaks from the internet which I have to do from time to time otherwise I just get too wound-up. Then I ‘suddenly’ remember that i have a life away from it and enjoy it so much.

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  6. Glad you were able to have a great time!

    I was asked recently if I ever turn off my phone. My answer was, “not on purpose, or only if I need to reboot. ” My friend then informed me that phones are so much like computers now that they need to be turned off for a few minutes periodically to give the system time to rest. With all these smart phones are capable of these days, I know for certain I squeeze every drop of use I can from mine at all times. My phone is never off. But that also means that we too are always on 24/7.

    I see the logic in downtime though, as I know I need to rest when I’m burned out, even though I wish I could just plug in a power cord and keep on going.

    So now to aid my brain in disconnecting, I turn off notifications so I’m not constantly prompted to reach for the phone. I now check in at my own pace. I’m not at the point of complete turn off yet. But I hope I can get credit for baby steps 😀

    Always nice to stop by your page. Enjoyed your post!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love this post, Ann. I’ve been thinking about this recently and you’ve now inspired me to try and break away from the habit of always pulling it out to check something that isn’t as important as where you are and who you’re with. There must have been a sense of freedom after a while. There is much to be said about staying connected but more, I think, about living life the way it used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, George! I think the trick is to find a balance between being “constantly connected” and “unreachable.’ Because I want people to get in touch with me in an emergency, and sometimes a text, call or email is very pertinent and I’m glad to get it instantly. But most times, the communications can wait, and just distract me from what I’m doing, or who I’m with at the moment. It’s a learning curve for sure! And I’m going to try to get better at it. Because I want to appreciate my phone, but not let it rule my life.

      Liked by 1 person

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