There had been a severe ice storm over the weekend and the tower that delivers my Internet connectivity was damaged. That tower lives on the top of an 11,000’ mountain, so the environmental conditions meant that it took 5 days until crews could safely ascend and make the necessary repairs.
And during those long five days I had no Internet, social media, Netflix, electronic news, email…well, you get the picture. I had tried using my phone as a hotpot and depleted my data plan. I felt completely cut off.
The first day wasn’t so bad, just a minor inconvenience. By day three I was actually feeling withdrawal. So much so that I drove the 25 minutes into town and camped out in a coffee shop multiple days.
I was miserable. However, there were lessons to be learned once I began paying attention.
A slower start to my day.
I could wake up in a more relaxed manner since I couldn’t reach for my iPhone or iPad to catch up on what had happened in the last eight hours. I didn’t rush to check my email. Social media didn’t consume me. I actually started my day on my own terms rather than adopting the vibes out in the ether.
More focused attention throughout the day
I could maintain focus on what I was doing because social media, news alerts, etc. couldn’t interrupt me. No one could invade my personal space. Distraction and procrastination were minimal since my escape route was unavailable. Bottom line: I got a lot more done.
More real connection with people
I only had the option of talking face-to-face or by phone. In either case, there was more personal connection, not a social media one off. I had more meaningful conversations.
Less information overload
I was more relaxed because I couldn’t continually be inundated with information being pushed to me. Prior to my lack of Internet I had had to limit the amount of news I was reading because it often would send me into a tailspin. During my timeout, this choice was made for me and was more encompassing. Overall, I was more relaxed.
Being more present.
I had to be present while waiting in line, stopped at a traffic light, or while filling my gas tank. I noticed the weather, how I was feeling, how many others were glued to their devices. I could concentrate on my own life rather than getting tangled in other’s status updates or suffering their banal sharings.
This forced abstinence was painful, no doubt about it. But the experience caused me to examine the impact that constant connection has on my life, my demeanor, and my relationships. I recognize that I truly am the one in control of what crosses my device screens. I also saw in bold letters the insidious bad habits I have formed over time. And while I won’t be giving up the various electronic ways to connect with others, I have become much more mindful of my digital choices. And, I now recharge my devices overnight in the kitchen.
Your Call to Action
Try waiting in line this week while you keep your phone in your pocket. What do you notice? What would change if you recharged your phone somewhere other than next to your bed? Where might you be shortchanging your relationships because you need to stay electronically connected?