When I think of the word "unplug," I think about just how wired we are to our devices and the internet. I think my generation was one of the last to experience the quiet of playing outside without the distractions and privacy violations of smart phones. In fact, smart phones did not exist.
To “unplug” is to turn the tech (phones, computers, tablets, and video games) off and push it away… even if only for an hour.
On April 30, 1993, the internet was made available to the public. I remember when my parents connected to dial-up for the first time and that screechy, techy noise would pierce our ears every time they logged onto AOL.
I almost can’t believe what the internet is now. I have this love-hate relationship with it after being enamored with it for most of my middle school years as a resource for Pokémon cheats and codes.
As a somewhat crusty millennial that survived the 2008 financial crisis, I’m a bit disappointed that the internet has become a universe of rabbit holes, endless dancing and lip syncing videos, and click bait.
The algorithm gods have us at their mercy whether its for blasting our eyes with advertisements (I’m sorry because I’m guilty of this), or fiending for our attention so that we can click away to the next product.
Tech has also gotten so complicated. I sometimes blame the fact that I am getting older, but when I go to work to help people half my age and they’re also confused about how to use technology, I realize that technology has indeed gotten too complicated.
So, when is it time to unplug? I know it’s time when I experience the following symptoms:
- Brain Fog
- Easily Angered or Frustrated
- Feeling “Bored”
Brain Fog: It gets difficult to concentrate
Brain fog is not one of my favorite feelings. I literally see and feel grey. My brain probably is the color grey. I wonder what I am even doing. I have run out of energy for even the things I want to do.
When I feel this way, I actually go out and touch grass. I will go and take a walk at my local nature trail, even if my feet hurt after a long day of work. There is more oxygen among the trees. I also leave my phone off. I don’t look at it. I don’t listen to music. It’s just me, my footsteps, the quacking ducks, and rustling leaves, and the twitter of birds. It might take a few walks, but I do begin to feel better.
Easily Angered or Frustrated: Daily technology use induces irritation
Unfortunately, I like to torture myself with current events, and tech gives me unlimited access to every terrible human story. I keep up with national and international politics, natural disasters, and human rights abuses. Every day I wonder, “Why is humanity so cruel?”
Because I am one person and I do not possess the medicine to cure human suffering, this is the time when I turn off or put away all of the rabbit hole videos, newscasts, podcasts, and news articles and turn to a fun yet productive activity.
This fun productive activity usually involves creating art, but more often this means socializing. I enjoy talking to friends, my husband, and other close family members. We all need that positive communication to remind ourselves that there are people we enjoy who mean well in the world.
Feeling Bored: Getting stuck in a loop of content we don’t want to see
As much as I adore blogging for its slower pace and the autonomy it gives me to actually control the content I want to see, I am not a huge fan of most social media. If I’m not blogging, I’m on YouTube. All other platforms are a necessary evil. However, YouTube does occasionally send me down scrolling marathons, which cause me to spend too much time looking and looking and… looking… for what? And the more I scroll, the more bored I feel.
To combat the strange sensation of boredom after scrolling too much, I turn it all off and hit up my sewing machine, books, or acrylic paints. I end up being far more productive and the boredom just disintegrates.
It takes a while for this to work, but once I’m in my creative zone, I’m there and vibing!
The Results from Unplugging
Technology has its pros and cons. At the end of the day, it can provoke certain feelings and habits that can make or break us.
After taking a step back from technology with a cup of tea, I feel like my time has been better spent. Best of all, that time was enjoyed.
I even picked up some older habits from my childhood such as reading physical magazines.
After unplugging, I can focus my energy on creating recipes, painting, photography, sewing, knitting, and reading! Here are the creative results: