I am back after a lovely break chilling out with my family and a fairly strict self imposed ban online! We had a wonderful week as a family and excellent news of fantastic AS level results for my college attending daughter. She is much relieved and is motivated even more to aim for the university group place she is keen on securing an offer from in the near future. Proud parents!
Today I wanted to write about being so connected online and what that means to us on a day to day basis. Although phone companies will tell you it is good to talk, I think it comes with its own stresses. I think we all need some internet and phone free time each day.
I tend to deal quite quickly with emails when they come in so I didn’t realise quite how many I have until I started leaving them until the end of the day. My least busy day last week was 312!! When I think of all the text messages and phone calls I also get it is a wonder I get anything else done at all 😀
What this did bring home to me was the need for social media free time. Leaving the mobile phone at home whenever possible or turning the internet off at home for a few hours whilst doing something else so I can give my full attention to the task at hand without being tempted to peek at notifications or getting drawn in to reading a blog post. It also reminded me to make a note to look at some of the settings I have so that I can reduce the amount of notifications and emails I have coming in which so regularly light up my tablet.
We ended up in the forest for the day last week and whilst the others went bike riding I just sat in the shade of a welcoming tree and spent my time reading and watching the world go by with the dog by my feet. I had no signal on my phone and I was lost in the ether as far as the rest of the human race was concerned.
It was quiet there in my bubble. You forget what it is like to be so disconnected from the rest of the world. Let me tell you – it is good. I still remember when we had to walk a mile to get to a phone box in the 1970’s. We dialled, stuck our 2p in the box and got to speak for a minute or two…if we shouted loud enough, they heard us! And when we did get a phone installed if we were out we were out and that was that. Now, I am contactable 24/7 unless I make a choice not to be and that is something I am going to do more often in the future, even if it is only for an hour a day.
It is so hard to be unavailable. We are often apologetic when we miss a phone call or feel we have taken too long to answer a text. One of my adult daughters gets quite affronted if she can’t get an answer from me straight away. Not because she is worried I have inadvertently fell under a bus but because ‘That’s what mobile phones are for, Mother!’.
People seem to either love this instant availability or loathe it. I am in the second camp and I realise I am probably going as extinct as a dinosaur with this viewpoint but I often find it quite stifling. In my defense I want to be able to enjoy moments of peace and quiet without having to turn off half a dozen gadgets around the house beforehand and losing the spontaneity which comes with the perfect moment. I don’t want to feel I have stolen it. I want to feel I have earned it and then I get to savour it and taste it fully.
Of course, you can get a digital detox by booking up a holiday specifically catering to this…in other words they haven’t had WiFi connected yet…and they will charge you a nice hefty added extra for not doing so! Just the other day I read an advert for a holiday home whose main selling point was that it had no WiFi…the owners called it a retreat and were charging a premium for the guaranteed relaxing stay and the chance to play board games for that old fashioned family holiday!! Now THAT’S enterprising! Or cheeky, depending on your viewpoint 😀
Still, it’s one way to get the teenagers off their devices without it being seen as an unreasonable demand, us off our phones and everyone back into the real world…albeit kicking and screaming!
Better make the most of it before we all get hooked up with implants from birth and the choice to be ‘off grid’ is no longer ours to make…resistance is futile 😉