We’ve all heard the rally cry for disconnection. “Take an offline vacation,” a friend might suggest. Or “a gadget detox.” “Switch off,” we’re told. And it always sounds appealing, but very difficult to do.
I’ve long had the goal of waking up, meditating, and practicing yoga. But in all honesty, what I often do is wake up and reach for my phone before doing anything else.
I need to disconnect from technology in order to reconnect with myself and others as much as anyone. Which is why I came up with a list of reminders that I need to review often. Sometimes very often, as I frequently realize I am missing the “now” by being switched on with reality afar and switched off from reality nearby.
This is the list I am working on to fight off my own badly ingrained habits:
1. Pay full attention and be present with the person standing in front of me. Leave the silly meme or the WhatsApp from friends living miles away for later. All that can wait.
2. Stop the mindless reach out for social media whenever I feel bored. (To remember this goal, I change the location of my app every now and then.)
3. Enjoy the empty time in my life. I want to remember to use my senses again and rejoice in this one moment in time, looking for the simple joys with no distractions.
4. Set aside a limited amount of time every day for my social, mindless shenanigans, and make the effort to avoid revisiting those mindless distractions at other times of the day.
5. Remember the difference between media reality and personal reality. Very often I feel overwhelmed and affected by what I see, listen to and read. But this reality is beyond me, beyond my control, and I have to make the effort to focus on the things within my reach that I can change. I need to focus on people and issues where I can help and allow myself to enjoy my own reality with its highs and lows.
6. I want to be in charge of the information that reaches me. Today we have information overload and most of it is not “good quality.” I choose my sources, my favorite topics, and my online friends carefully. I constantly cancel newsletters and unsolicited email.
I keep adding to this list, I don’t want to miss the simple and beautiful pleasure of being in the real world. Drinking tea, chatting with friends face to face, making art, walking in nature, patting my dog, cooking a meal, hugging and kissing my loved ones.
Whatever we find in our devices will always be there. Those around us won’t.
So let’s all switch off and reconnect with life.