If you’re anything like the majority of millennials these days, your smart phone, tablet, and/or Apple Watch is but an extension of your body. These nifty innovative electronics have become almost as necessary and resourceful as a limb. We tend to depend on our smart phones to do everything for us: the Internet is a click away bringing with it a wealth of information; text messages and emails communicate our every word; social media apps are quick to update our statuses, locations, and moods; even GPS can operate on command. In short, these conveniences have become part of our daily routine, to the point where we are reluctant to unplug.
How many of us actually turn off our cell phones at night? Probably not many. Who can honestly admit to reading a book before bed, rather than scrolling through Facebook updates and Twitter newsfeeds? Again, not many. Our technology is so ingrained in our day-to-day operations that we have trouble unplugging for more than five minutes.
Why are we so afraid to turn off our devices? What’s the fear behind unplugging in exchange for real human interaction? Our answers may vary slightly, but for most of us the fear is missing out. We crave knowing what everyone else is up to. We depend on those updates to remind us what our relatives, friends, and acquaintances are doing every single day. Our newsfeeds on social media bring us highlights in all things news, music, photography, moods, and tagged locations. Hashtags and check-ins educate us on what’s trending and where. Our dependency on these updates is borderline unhealthy.
So, how can we fix this?
The ultimate fix is to cut cold turkey. Shut off your phone once in awhile and reacquaint yourself with the world around you. There are so many benefits to unplugging and basking in some much needed R&R. Start by reminding yourself of these ten:
- You don’t operate on a 24/7 clock. We’re human, and if that simple fact has eluded you up until now, here’s your friendly reminder. We have basic human needs to fulfill, like getting at least eight hours of sleep per night and eating. These are essentials facets of our daily routine that don’t have space to share with technology. There’s no need for you to experience broken sleep because your phone beeps every thirty minutes with a new text message or new follower on your social media accounts. There’s nothing that urgent that cannot wait until morning. When you sleep, your devices should sleep. Make it a priority.
- You have work to do. Whether it’s a career or college classes, we are busy bees with deadlines to meet, presentations to polish, professors to report to, and grades to ace. We don’t have enough time or undivided attention to fit our devices into work and school. The life of a young professional is hard enough without the added stress of meeting your post count for the day. Unplug in the workplace and classroom. It’ll do you a world of good.
- You’re missing out by using technology. Think about the last date you had with your beau or a TV show you were watching live. Did you tweet about it the whole time? Instagram every photo of your event to make sure everyone else knows it happened? Stop. You’re missing out by trying to capture every little detail of what you’re doing. Your Facebook “friends” don’t need to know your best friend went kayaking with you on Saturday. It happened whether others saw your social media check-in or not. Unplugging during moments like this will direct your attention into what you’re actually doing. Newsflash: you may actually enjoy the event more by being an active participant!
- Powering down reminds you life isn’t all about “likes”. We all want to be likable; who doesn’t? It feels good to see 500 people “hearted” your Instagram photo because your outfit is cute AF. But is life really about how many likes we receive? Your answer best be a firm no. Whether you receive three likes or three thousand on your profile, it’s really about the people who like you in real life, and that you like yourself. C’mon, people!
- Your day should begin elsewhere. Humans have the power of choice and we all actively choose to login to our social media profiles or turn on our devices. Choose to start your day without electronics. Maybe your day could begin with a morning workout or snuggle time with your beau. There’s no reason why the first place you plant your eyes has to be the screen. Some R&R and time away from technology really is a beautiful thing.
- You need to vacation. Vacationing from work and school is a must, so why not take a vacation from technology? Try your best to spend one full day away from your devices. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, make it a full week! Vacationing from social media and texting can ease away the exhaustion from spending your time glued to a screen and is bound to give you some much needed R&R. On vacation there’s no pressure to post something to keep up your activity or accumulate likes. Instead, your mind can wander to more important things like homework or career growth.
- There’s no substitute for human interaction. Although social media and email bridge the communication gap between you and those loved ones living a great distance away, it’s no substitute for real life human connection. Seeing your friends and relatives in the flesh and blood is so much more authentic and genuine. There’s no room for error in understanding tone or mood like in text messages and rather than say you’ll catch up when you can, you actually will see them!
- You won’t miss anything urgent. Unplugging doesn’t mean you’re going to miss an emergency. If there’s a true emergency unfolding, you won’t be getting an email or text about it; you’ll be getting a phone call. Unplugging with the intent of taking a break from apps and social media posts will allow you time away from the pressure of status updates, check ins, and newsfeeds. You still, however, can get through the day without the worry of missing something urgent.
- You will create time for other things. By taking a short hiatus from the excessive routine of browsing on cell phones, tablets, and fancy watches, you will ultimately create time for other things. You may find you have more time to write, journal, watch your favorite TV show, or knit. By putting your devices away for a set amount of time you can then use that allotted space to enjoy other things.
- You will find balance. Once you take the time to vacation away from your devices you will understand how good it feels to reconnect with the world around you. In doing so you will learn the art of balance. We can’t spend 24/7 doing anything in life and being active on technology falls into this philosophy. Life is about balance, and while it’s tempting to pass the time scrolling through newsfeeds, there’s a time and a place for it.
Unplugging is beneficial in a variety of ways. It reminds us not to depend on technology to bring us happiness; it’s healthy to turn off devices before bed to avoid broken sleep; it’s an easy way to step back from electronics and reconnect with the real world. While many of us depend on technology for nearly everything in life, there’s time built into each day that requires nothing more than human interaction; with others and with ourselves. Unplug once in awhile. You may be surprised by how good it feels to step away from the screen and just be.