I’ve always known how addicted to social media I am, but when I challenged myself to spend a full twenty four hours “off the grid,” I found out just how much I really was. I went on Facebook (of course), where I get all my “news” updates. While there, I learned that it was National Unplugging Day. There was an online pledge to sign your commitment to staying disconnected, a picture you could upload to announce it with, and even a space where you could write about what you were going to focus more on during that period. The point was to unbury your head from the internet and be more present in your life, more in touch with “reality.”
Somewhere deep inside of me, I thought it was a good idea! However, it took quite a bit of really, internally committing to it. I knew it would be hard and so I kept reading about it, then closing out the website, and then reopening it, and then closing it out, until I finally decided to do it.
Well, halfway at least.
I didn’t actually sign the pledge, or download the picture, or even write down what I was going to focus on that day. Instead, I did what any social media addicted person would do. I announced it on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, I like to put my intentions out in a public forum in order for me to be accountable for my actions. So, I did. I committed to twenty four hours and what happened was everything I suspected would happen. I got a lot done, nothing at all done, and it was absolutely perfect.
This was quite an accomplishment–being connected isn’t only about social media. It’s about sitting on your phone texting, it’s about surfing the web, it’s about your ipod, it’s about television, it’s about everything that keeps you from being fully engaged in yourself and life around you.
So, what did I do away from all that? I FINISHED a book that I had been meaning to start for months. I took myself on an early morning walk, something I do often, except now, with my face out of my phone, noticed things I had never seen. I felt the sunshine. I noticed people passing me. I noticed these silly plastic flamingos in a flower bed, hanging from a window, and the sight of it just made me laugh. I sat on the patio at Starbucks and watched overly-excited dogs walk their owners. I noticed the older gentlemen walking down the street humming a little tune. I also noticed that just about every person I saw had his or her face locked into a phone, a computer, or had a pair of headphones in. There was barely any eye contact between a person and another actual person. Barely anyone noticed the beautiful, smog-free day (rare in LA).
I’m not judging, as I have definitely been guilty of this myself, hence this experiment. However, I have to say, how do we expect to become better as a nation, let alone a world, if we don’t even SEE one another? How do we become better human beings if we aren’t in touch with our own thoughts?
I’m not going to say this experiment was easy. It wasn’t. It took everything within me to avoid Facebook and even more to not check my email. Mostly out of habit, though, like if I’m not entertained for more than twenty seconds, I’m immediately scrolling through updates and reading comments. I learned I have a lot more of myself to offer the world when I nurture myself and I’m not trying to just write updates or trying to put something out there to satisfy others . What I learned was that when I shut myself off from the plugged-in world, I was inspired to come back to social media and share what I learned. I had lost that passion and drive a little. Ironically, I have rediscovered it again by stepping back.
So, if you see my updates a little less frequent, just know that I’m outside enjoying the sunshine, finishing another book, writing another blog, and ultimately just enjoying life a little bit more.
So, are you ready for the challenge? Do you find yourself distracted by everything else except what is truly important? Can you forgo something you’re addicted to, for just one day a week? I have committed to doing this once a week. I’ll even try to avoid the Internet for the first thirty minutes or hour after waking up. I’d love to hear your commitment! And don’t worry, I won’t make you sign a pledge.
*I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment in the comment section below. That is where the Shari-ng with Shari community really comes alive! Don’t forget to check out my website for more inspiration and love!