The Value of Being Disconnected


I became disconnected the minute my iPhone took a dive into the shallow end of my friend’s pool. But was it really that bad?

This is my debut post as a brand new blogger. It was meant to be a telling of my journey on how I came to be participating in a blog about wellness. But little did I know, that particular entry was to be postponed the minute my iPhone took a dive into the shallow end of my friend’s pool. This occurrence was initially extremely irritating to my “type A” sensibilities…how could I, so normally careful, let such a thing happen? It wasn’t long, however, until this circumstance started me pondering my dependence on technology and the way I perceive it helps me to live a full and connected life.

Don’t get me wrong…I do put my phone down quite frequently. I try to be mindful of making sure that I’m not constantly staring at the screen of this small device when there’s an opportunity to connect with a real, live human in the same room. We have rules in our house about putting the electronics away, especially at mealtimes, so that we can spend time relating to each other without those distractions. “Whoever it is can leave a message,” we say when a phone rings during dinner. “That text won’t blow up your phone if you don’t answer it this second, believe me,” is another admonishment we’ve been known to utter from time to time. Yes…I had this balancing business down pat…or so I thought.

And then my phone went swimming last Wednesday night and I began to realize some things about my habits which indicated that perhaps…just perhaps…I was more dependent on my technology than I believed. My first thought was “how will my out-of-town daughters or sisters get a hold of me if they need me?” That issue was dealt with by sending out an email letting them know; and, after all, they could always call Dave if there was an emergency. Okay, good. See? No problem…I surely will not die without my iPhone for a day or two.

But then I realized how often I reach for my phone to check for missed calls and/or texts, or as a time-filler while waiting in line somewhere; it’s a perfect time to get in a quick round of Candy Crush or check to see what’s new on Facebook. Even going for a mountain bike ride was effected when I couldn’t use my Strava app to track my speed and distance. How would I see whether or not I had improved my time on certain segments of my route?

As each day has passed, phone resting in a tub of rice to no avail, more and more examples of my dependence on that collection of microchips all wrapped up in a sleek white package have come to mind. You mean I have to pay for my Starbucks with something other than an app? How do I take a quick picture to edit and share with my FB peeps? Trying to schedule something a month out requires a “I’ll have to let you know later when I can access my calendar” rather than a few swipes and finger-taps. And voice-texting with the old, basic phone I’m now using? Forgedabouddit.

I’m fully aware that I’ve spent five paragraphs talking about something that is completely a ‘first-world problem’ and I’m not foolish enough to think that all of this really matters in the larger scheme of the cosmos. But the point of all of this is that I’ve found something to be true in more than just an abstract-concept sort of way: sometimes it’s a good thing to become disconnected in order to remember to become truly connected. All of the things listed above are, in and of themselves, not intrinsically wrong or bad…but they can keep me from seeing the things around me that tend to pass me by while in my technology-wrapped haze.

And so, I’m working on leaning in to being okay with being disconnected. To stop and see what’s around me. To slow down and know that most things can wait…I can live without all the conveniences of the world-wide-web literally at my fingertips 24/7. I have had the opportunity to problem-solve all of the perceived inconveniences and have survived quite nicely.

At some point, the phone will be replaced and life will continue to go on. My hope is that I remember the discomfort of this experience and use it to remember to disconnect…and connect.

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