Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Technology Detox

This past weekend I did something I haven't done in years; I spent four days completely unplugged and disconnected from technology.  No Facebook, no television, no surfing the web, no blogging, no Pinterest, and no email--well, I did glance at my work issued Blackberry once before returning it to the deep abyss that is my purse.  And funny enough, I didn't miss any of it. In fact, the whole experience felt refreshing.

So what caused my detox you ask?  Taking advantage of a long weekend, we headed out of town to spend a few nights north of the border in Montenegro.  As is the case more often than not, my Blackberry didn't transmit emails consistently so I regulated it to the bottom of my bag.  Besides, we were on a mini-vacation and the last time I checked there really aren't any work related emergencies for me.  Our hotel was beautiful but didn't offer free Internet and  we refused to pay their high asking price for a weak Wi-Fi signal.  At first I thought this would bother me but I actually found myself enjoying being disconnected.  Montenegro (along with Albania) is a big black hole on our GPS system so without our Tom Tom or access to Google Maps we allowed our Lonely Plant paperback to serve as our guide.  We didn't get lost and in fact discovered places we might never have otherwise seen if we had been focusing on a computer generated, pre-planned route.  If a road looked interesting, we followed it.  Instead of scanning the web, posting updates on Facebook, and scoping out our next vacation location (a task that has become a regular part of every trip), we enjoyed just being together as a family without the usual technological disruptions.  In the evenings we read books or sat on our balcony drinking rather decent Montenegrian wine and listening to the sound of the crashing surf below us.  Never one to be truly idle, I did a lot of thinking about everything from future dinner menus to what I really want to do "when I grow up" but didn't jump on the computer to further my research.  (I even jotted notes to myself using the paper and pencil provided by the hotel.  I don't even remember the last time I did this). Without the interruption of ringing phones or news broadcasts we were blissfully unaware of the outside world and it was wonderful.  And for the first time in what feels like ages, I relaxed.  Instead of the initial angst I had anticipated over being disconnected I found myself wishing our four days away wouldn't end.  But sadly enough the weekend came to an end and we returned to our (temporary) Albanian reality.

Yes, I'm now back and reconnected; I have uploaded pictures from the weekend to Facebook and have sent a few emails.  As this post attests to, I'm blogging again.  But my brief time away did me good.  For Americans, Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of summer which is supposed to mean long lazy days spending time with family and friends, enjoying the weather, and relaxing as much as possible.  And after this weekend I realize that for me, this also means disconnecting from the rapid paced world that is driven by technology.  It really is unavoidable and I'll admit, I do enjoy aspects of being connected.  It allows me to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world and not feel completely isolated while living in a geographically and socially isolated country.  However, I'm determined to no longer be ruled by technology.  So this summer I'm going to disconnect a bit. I'll still blog--daily for the most part since it is my creative outlet-- but I'm going to spend less time in front of the computer.  This means fewer hours on Facebook and the Internet as a whole and I'm going to start picking up the phone rather than using email as my main form of communication.  Maybe I'll even buy a few stamps and hand write a letter or two.  I'm going to pull out my stash of books and read for pleasure rather than wasting hours doing nothing in front of the computer.  I'm going to spend more time just hanging out with Sidney and seeing the world through his three and a half year old perspective.  He is turning into both a thoughtful and pretty funny little boy and I don't want to miss a moment of it.  I feel more relaxed just thinking about my technology diet.
So here's to an unplugged summer; I can't wait.  Enjoy!

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