This morning I am reflecting on my past 24 hours of “unplugging” from my phone and social media accounts. Although school work still required some use of my electronic devices, my use for the day was decreased significantly.
My first “unplugging” moment was when I went on my run. I decided to leave my phone at home and run without music. I was surprised to see so many other people out exercising at the same time. As I ran past each person, I waited to see if they were going to say hi. Most of them did not, until I initiated the exchange. I normally say “hello” to people on my runs, but this time I tried to be even more friendly. I asked a few people, “Hi, how’s your day going?” I noticed that just a few more words out of my mouth created a much more connected feel in the few seconds I was running past them. Two people even offered me a “good job” or “keep it up” as I ran past. Stepping away from my music made me notice more people out and about and I think it enhanced the short, few second exchanges I had with my neighbors.
I also noticed that I was finished with my homework by about 6:00 yesterday. Without the distraction of my phone or computer (for social reasons), I was able to be a lot more productive. Being done earlier allowed me to sit down in the backyard with my parents and hear all about their days. We are usually pretty good about visiting without distractions, but being finished with my homework allowed me to give them 100% of attention without feeling the need to run off to something else.
Lastly, I left my phone in the car when I went to take my Pilates class last night. Usually I mess around on my phone as I sit waiting for class to start, just to have something to do. Last night I sat there just observing things around me. I was surprised to see an older gentleman come up and sit right next to me. He began to ask if I had taken this class before and told me it was his very first time taking it. He asked me all about it and even admitted he was a little nervous. It was nice to spend those few minutes visiting with a person, rather than checking my Facebook or catching up on junk emails. After class I checked in with him to see if he liked it and he said he hopes to be back next week! I think that “unplugging” from my devices made me appear more approachable to that gentleman. If I was on my phone, I probably would have missed the opportunity to make a new friend.
As a waitress, I see people plugged into their phones way too much. Often when I approach my tables with, “good evening, how are you tonight?” I am rudely interrupted with “I’ll take a water.” It is as if they didn’t even hear me trying to start a friendly exchange because they are too involved with their phones. Its incredibly disrespectful and immediately makes me want to just walk away from them. Unfortunately, because I still want my job, I am left in an awkward place and cannot even say anything to them. It also drives me crazy when parents bring their kids iPads, mini TVs, or cell phones to act as babysitters during dinner. What happened to kids being entertained through the conversations, the coloring sheets provided by the restaurants, and a few small toys they were allowed to bring when we were kids? Sadly, this kind of behavior within restaurant settings is only going to lead to children becoming “plugged in” adults in the future. Its a terrible cycle!!!
This exercise was a really good reminder of how reliant we are on our devices and how it can negatively impact the relationships around us. Putting it down once in a while is a great way to observe what’s taking place around us. Although I am writing this response now, I am going to continue to stay disconnected throughout the weekend and see what other social exchanges I can have with those people around me.