I Dare You to Unplug

Pikachu longs to play outside, but his trainer was too busy writing this blog.

Pikachu longs to play outside, but his trainer was too busy writing this blog.

Lately, I’ve let social networking slide onto the back burner. Not consciously. Between work and holidays, personal time has simply become an elusive commodity. Yet as Christmas passes and the world gradually slows down, I’ve come to agree with many studies and articles stating social media has a distinct impact on our lives.

Just how much of life have we been missing?

Now, this isn’t to say social networking sites are bad. However, like most indulgences, it’s best experienced in moderation. We as humans are prone to addictive behaviors. For myself, it’s coffee, social media, and work. Lately, I’ve been striving to create a better balance in life, starting with online interactions.

Here is what I’ve discovered thus far:

1) You’re capable of doing more.

How many hours, days, even years have you lost to the rabbit holes of social media? Do you think that sounds a bit dramatic? Calculate the time you spend on Facebook in one day and multiply it by a week, a month, then a year. If you consider how much time you’ve invested online that could have been spent pursuing your life goals, the truth may be hard to swallow.

Instead of browsing my phone during lunch, I read a book. When I get home, I walk by my computer to work on the painting that’s been sitting half-finished for two months now. Chivalry’s Code will still put me in front of a screen more than I’d like to be sometimes, but when you close the web browser and focus only on the page in front of you, the words flow much faster.

Also, I notice I’m not in a hurry all the time.The days often seemed too short before because I wasn’t spending my time wisely. Without the distractions, life is far more manageable.

2) I’m thinking more.

There’s something about Facebook, Twitter, and online media that makes you feel like you’re floating thoughtlessly through the web. I liken it to foggy mornings. Your vision is limited and you feel lethargic. Without these distractions, I either focus on a project, engage in conversation, or I am left with myself to think and contemplate. All of them are wonderful alternatives.

Projects become goals, which I’m meeting at a greater pace.

Conversations pull me into the here and now to experience life, community, and social interaction the way it should be (I think we’re more starved for this than we realize).

Then there’s that time alone with yourself. You find you are either content in silence or you’re terrified. Both are worth exploring. We should never be afraid of being alone with ourselves. In fact, it should be a regular part of our lives, like a spiritual exhale.

I find one of my favorite things is sitting out on the back lanai when everything’s quiet and all you hear is the breeze tickling the palms. You feel the wind caress your cheek while the smell of grass and earth reminds you that you are alive, and you are a part of this place.

Do you ever take time to simply be?

If you haven’t lately, try it. You owe that much to yourself.

3) I’m happier.

Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing what my brother, mother, friend, cousin, and that old buddy I knew in high school are doing. Who doesn’t? We’re curious in nature and the things many of my friends post can be exciting, funny, and inspiring. Especially the creative ones with their quotes, their photographs, and their stories. However, too much of it disengages us.

Why do we spend so much time in the play-by-play of other peoples lives when our own is right in front of us?

I notice there are too many people who worry about what other people are doing. People compare themselves to the portrayal of other people’s lives and think too long and too hard about whether their own lives amount to the same.

Stop it. Just.. really, stop. No matter how much you think Facebook tells you about a person, it will never tell you the whole story. Peoples lives are only truly revealed through actions and intimate conversations where a soul is bared naked and raw.

I promise you those conversations will tell you more than a status or a photo any day of the week. They’re far more powerful, too.

It is said that too much time on social media leads to depression and other mental health issues that impact our body like a mirror.

Step away from it all for awhile. Limit yourself and engage instead in the real and tangible world right in front of you.

I’m daring you to a week long challenge: Try limiting your online presence to 30 minutes a day. Don’t use your phone as an excuse. Set it aside when you get home and ignore it if you must. Replace the moments you spend on apps and online networks with books, hobbies, and the things you “never have time for”. Then blog about it on the eighth day and tag this post so I can see it (I promise to read and respond to every blog that participates!).

Ask yourself, how do I spend my time, and am I spending it wisely?

15 thoughts on “I Dare You to Unplug

  1. I’m finding myself feeling the same way, I hardly ever touch Twitter or Facebook anymore and spend more time writing, Ironically enough though, at the same time I’m going this I’ve given my daughter an earful for spending too much time on Facebook, it’s infuriating. Sigh!

  2. No problems for me the 30 min – great challenge! After I finished working I got my life back, have only a mobile that rings … and I truly enjoy my life with all the gadges . Happy New Year to you.

  3. It’s incredible the positive difference it makes to your everyday life once you begin limiting one’s time online which sadly has become a necessary evil…

    • It’s true, the internet has become such an integrated part of our work and social lives. However, I think like most things, the key is simply moderation. It takes discipline… but we’re more than capable. πŸ™‚

  4. This is a great post. I’ve never been a fan of social media. My blog is the only thing I truly enjoy in that arena, so I don’t spend a lot of time at the other places. I especially like the part about being alone with yourself. Personally, I don’t know anyone who does that but me (and you). πŸ™‚ There are many people I know who could use your challenge. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Hi Lori! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts (and for following my blog! :))

      I think it’s become a lost art of sorts in a lot of cultures residing within first world countries. Yet the Cherokee word for health (“tohi”) is the same word for peace.

      There’s wisdom in that. I talk about balance a lot because I believe our body, our mind, and our soul are mirrors of one another. When one is sick, all three become that way. Spending time with ourselves allows us to “decompress” and find a balance within ourselves, or, if we’re off balance, help pinpoint the issue.

      • Balance (and justice) is practically my middle name. I’m a Libra, and I’m not a real big horoscope follower, but I fit the Libra description to a tee. I tend to lean toward anxiety if things aren’t balanced in my life. In case you couldn’t tell, I agree with you on the balance thing. πŸ˜‰

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