It’s not just kids typing away at their smartphones during dinner that is an issue. Just this past month my husband and I spent four days with four other adults vacationing. One morning, I glanced up and five us of were busy on our iPhones, iPads, and tablets. We were reading, playing games, or working on crossword puzzles. Admittedly, several of us started the day much earlier and had been keeping ourselves quietly entertained.
But what was the excuse after everyone was up, dressed and present? Why didn’t we gather around to chat and connect since that’s what we were there for? My excuse was unawareness and routine.
I was enjoying my book and my weekend routine is to sip my coffee and read while Steve is sipping his and answering clues to ridiculous questions in his crossword (my opinion only 😊). The last adult wasn’t on his smartphone (he doesn’t have one) or a tablet (doesn’t have one of those either), but his choice of electronic entertainment is watching the news.
That morning was neither typical nor unique as there was usually one or two of us electronically enticed into our own little worlds until the rest woke up and we had a scheduled event to jump into. But this tableau hinted at an underlying issue for many of us.
Our smartphones and easily held electronic devices are getting in the way of our human connection. All right not an original idea by any means as Steve and I have often pointed out and shook our heads over families dining at restaurants with all members busily tapping away and wasting the experience at a cost of $100 or more for the opportunity.
So, I got to thinking — Steve shudders when I get to thinking, because it usually includes
a requirement for him to do something, change something, or try something. He ends up appreciating the opportunity but still, it’s always something different and now I was wondering how electronics affect our productivity, our work on our personal goals, and our happiness. Sure, I know the general answer (it affects all the above) but I wanted to see what we could achieve and enjoy if we were to disconnect in certain ways this weekend.
I wanted to disconnect from the always accessible apps, information, news, and mindlessness of the internet. After all that was why I came up with the idea (yeah, another one) of camping. I’ve never been a fan of camping, but as part of my preparations for emergencies and with the intention of ‘getting away from it all’ we’ve been camping and it’s been fun.
But this last weekend, camping spots were hard to find in areas we wanted to go, so I suggested we disconnect and set boundaries on the electronics at home.
The following boundaries and guidelines were established and amended as we went:
No iPhone/iPad news
No iPhone/iPad games
No social media
No surfing the web during creative activities (writing, painting, etc)
No Kindle books
No electronics in the bathroom
No electronics in the bedroom
No electronics on the deck
Read print books or magazines
Get more at library or bookstore as needed
Check online information - allowed if it expands the conversation or supports a project
Electronics used for writing
What we found was time to read, time to talk, and time to create. We felt connected, calm, and focused. We enjoyed it so much, we are disconnecting again this weekend. It may even become a habit. And the beauty of it is — establish the rules each time so that the disconnection and reconnection works for us in the moment. Residual benefits of being aware of when and where we plug in means those discovered blocks of time and sense of calm continue into the week days.
How will you disconnect in order to reconnect this month?
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