going unplugged

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m just as guilty of it as the next person. We’ll be out to dinner with a group of friends, and rather than talking to each other we’re buried in our cellphones – scrolling through Instagram or twitter, trying to stay connected. We’ll be at a concert or a sporting event and rather than living it in the moment, we see it through the screen of our iPhones frantically scrambling to document every second so we can relive it later. Talk about a first world problem, right?

I’m blameworthy of keeping my cellphone at arm’s length at almost all times. I tend to justify it, reason my way through why it is important for me to be “plugged in.” I mean, what if my parents need to get ahold of me? Or my boss? Honestly, the excuses I come up with are tissue-paper thin. A more honest reasoning might be… What if I miss something exciting on Twitter? But this song is too good not to share on snapchat! And I’ll be honest – I struggle with hating myself for it, but not being able to stop.

I often find myself swinging back and forth between feeling like I belong 100% in this tech-savvy, super-connected generation, and feeling like I couldn’t be farther from belonging. It hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend… As I sat in a booth disconnected from my “friends” and “followers” but connected to real life, I took the time to get to know the new friends I was sharing a meal and drinks with – and guess what? It didn’t kill me. 

Then, last night, my sorority was holding elections for a new executive council – which means no cellphones. Many of us are tempted, even in places we know we should take some time to disconnect, to stay connected. I left my cellphone in my purse on the outskirt of the lecture hall, and faced the two-hour meeting with no connection to anything that was happening outside of that room. I’m a little embarrassed by how badly my fingers itched to scroll mindlessly through twitter, to double-tap photos on instagram, pin fun travel destination ideas, or honestly even read through articles on Thought Catalog. I know how pretentious and “millennial” saying that sounds, but I know I am not alone in describing the struggle to just let go sometimes. To take that leap and pull the plug for awhile. 

This isn’t the first time that I’ve identified the problem, but it’s something that continues to be a work in progress in my day-to-day life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that I probably seem a little hypocritical to be talking about my work on “unplugging” on my MacBook. But, I think what I’m trying to get at more than anything is the fact that working to disconnect doesn’t have to be a full disconnect. In this day and age, that is nearly impossible – and especially for someone like me who is a blogger and considering a career in mass communications, it is completely impossible. 12189816_10153267657040488_6564897296461869386_n

What I mean when I say “going unplugged” is being aware of situations that truly benefit from being able to fully plug into real life. I went for a hike the other day in a new parklands that opened up here in Louisville, and clearly I chose to have my cell phone with me as a safety precaution. Along the way I couldn’t help but stop and snap a few pictures, because there’s something breathtaking about God’s creations that I wanted to be able to share. But I spent much of the day with my phone tucked away in my pocket, choosing to absorb the sunshine and fresh air as opposed the latest gossip from E! or the newest news on UofL. It was only a few hours, and I admittedly answered a text message or two, but I am not ashamed of it. I am not ashamed that I have embraced the culture of our society today – but I was also pleasantly surprised at the effect that those few short hours had on my outlook overall.

You don’t need to delete all of your social media accounts, throw your cell phone in the ocean, or go completely off the grid – just try unplugging yourself every now and then. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on real life conversations and memories by allowing yourself to instead be taken over by the need to be hyper-connected. There are connections to be made, real ones, all around you. Don’t miss out on living because you’re too busy trying to show everyone else you have the “perfect life”.

Stop “doing it for the instagram” and do it because you enjoy it. Or because it makes you better. Or because you only have one life and want to live every second to the fullest.