Can I Really Be Unplugged?

Starting off on this journey was hard. I don’t look at Facebook or twitter much during the day because I am always busy at work. However, I am most always check Facebook once I get home, and I will continue to check social media intermittently throughout the evening. It is a bad habit, that I am comfortable with, although I should probably break it.

Day 1, Monday: I spent the day mostly plugged in. Between requirements at work, and my own forgetfulness, there was a lot of social media and technology use. I survived the afternoon mostly unplugged, save for my bonus days Twitter assignment for respond, inspire, and collaborate. But then, I was alone in my apartment prepping and planning the last bits of my trip north. I was definitely using a lot of technology and on social media, connecting with a lot of people. It is our only means of contact to make plans. I did not do the best job at being “unplugged” on Monday.  

Day 2, Tuesday: I was sitting at the airport alone, itching to get on my phone. I am always checking social media and playing games to pass the time when I fly by myself. Instead, I sat, struggling to concentrate on reading articles for homework- and thinking about all of the lesson planning I could have been doing if I were online. I stayed mostly unplugged while I traveled, until I landed in New Jersey. I spent some time on my phone while I sat alone having lunch at Burger King, trying to figure out when my sister’s train would arrive.

For the rest of the day it was fairly easy to stay unplugged. I picked up my sister and we drove for nearly 6 hours. We have not been together for that long a period of time in a while. I was able to keep her unplugged with me while we talked for almost 4 hours straight. When we finally arrived at our house, I was too tired don’t worry about social media. Besides, I no longer had cell service and we only get intermittent Internet access. 

Day 3, Wednesday: I woke up in the morning telling myself that I would be more unplugged than I had been on Monday and Tuesday. That plan went downhill relatively quickly. We all piled into the car to go visit some relatives. We were in an area with cell service! I ended up staying alone at my grandfather’s house while they rest of the group took him to the appointment with the cardiologist. It was a very tough hour. I was connected for part of the time- more than I should have been. However, once everyone returned, I turned my phone off. I went on to spend the next 3 hours running errands and visiting with other family members- fully unplugged. 

I am realizing that there are times that I am too “plugged-in” to fully experience my time with others. But, mostly I am seriously plugged in when I am alone. 

Day 4, Thursday: Thanksgiving day! I turned to my phone in the morning for the obligatory “happy thanksgiving” post from my friends and relatives across the country. Then the rest of the day I was almost fully unplugged. It was easier to forget that day because we had so much to do.

The day started with a run in the snow, resulting in me “losing” our dog – only to find that he had gone home. Cooking started at 9:45. My parents went for an outing together while my sister and I cooperatively cooked and cleaned as a surprise. It was a very plugged-into-family day. We cooked, made a snowman, had a snowball fight, drank, watched movies, and played board games. It was extremely nice to have all of that time together. 

Day 5, Friday: I was plugged into my devices for a while, even without the internet. My mother had urgent work business, my father had emails and a department to check on, my sister had nursing school work and job applications, and I had graduate school assignments. We all sat together and worked. But then we all put away our devices. And spent the rest of the day together. 

We have a tradition of family movie nights during the holidays. We all enjoy movies, and at these times we like to re-watch some of our favorites. I may have been successful at certain times during this trip with staying unplugged, but there’s no way I was going to turn down our traditional family time, even if it was in front of a TV.  I recognize the importance of being with other and being fully present. However, plugged-in or unplugged, we made some great memories together. 

On Saturday I was plugged in at times, due to the fact that I was traveling alone and wanted to stay in contact with family. I did feel guilty at those times. Sunday wasn’t much easier, maybe because I had been working on being unplugged for so long, I was craving my usual time. I had to turn the internet off on my devices in order to be productive. The final day, Monday, I fell off the bandwagon. Looking back on the experience I realize that I struggled more than I originally predicted, but I also had a much more positive experience than I expected. I think that I will definitely try this experiment again during Christmas vacation with my family.


2 thoughts on “Can I Really Be Unplugged?

  1. tschmidt3 December 5, 2016 / 10:36 pm

    Thank you for your honesty in conveying your experience! It’s true for me, too – staying connected with social media, or even just spending headspace on mindlessly scrolling through articles and snaps is the “bad habit I am comfortable with,” – too comfortable to easily give up, or sometimes even want to give up. I had the same experience – I was itching to check my phone in the airports over break, but taking a moment to resist and be mindful of the space I was in made RDU and PGH airports far more alive and thrilling! I’m with you – let’s keep giving this a try. It won’t be easy, but like you implied, it is worth it!


  2. tschmidt3 December 5, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    I should also mention, unplugging had an immediate impact on my teaching – rather than wasting morning time on my phone, the extra time was spent on healthy habits that improved my mind and honed my craft. Just have to stay on the wagon now!


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