Doing The Unthinkable: How You Can Survive Without Technology
What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about forgetting your cell phone? Do you start to panic? Do your palms get sweaty? Do you think of all the things you will miss out on if you’re without this lifeline for 15, 20, even 2 hours?
I get it. We live in an age where we have to be connected to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Or so we think.
What if we actually gave ourselves permission to disconnect?
The other day I had plans to meet a friend for dinner and a movie. Since we were meeting at Panera for dinner, I decide to go a couple of hours earlier to have a change of scenery and finish up some work.
As I reached for my bag I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. I could feel a slight panic coming on and my thoughts started to race, going something like this:
I must have my phone. What if someone calls? What if my mom needs something? I won’t be able to check my email during the movie. I can’t check in on Foursquare and let others know I’m at Panera. I have to go home and get it. I need it.
Then I took a deep breath, closed the car door and kept walking towards the entrance. I gave myself permission to go without it. I had survived 18 years without a cell phone. I could survive 5 hours.
As I sat down and the reality hit me that my communication with the world would be “cut off” for the next five hours, I actually felt relieved. I was actually excited. For the next several hours, the only way people could talk to me was face to face.
What does that little silent fit in the parking lot tell me about where we’re at in this age?
We really need to disconnect so that we can reconnect. (Tweet that)
Disconnecting Allows Us To be Present
I sat over dinner with my friend and had a deep, meaningful conversation. I was fully present in the conversation, not looking over to see who just posted on Facebook, who replied to my tweet, or what the latest news on the Chicago Cubs was. (Yes, I’m a Cubs fan. Please send hate mail to the St. Lois Cardinals Headquarters.)
Eye contact was better. Engagement was more powerful. There were no interruptions. Just two people having a conversation, the way it used to be.
You Have Permission To Not Be Everywhere
You’re only one person. Though there are certainly benefits to the increasing technology we have, there are disadvantages as well. People expect you to be everywhere, all the time.
Sometimes this means calling you again, if you didn’t answer the first time. Other times it’s leaving a text after the voicemail that says to call.
We live in an age of urgency and it’s ruining our lives. (Tweet that too)
Who says we have to be in a hurry? Where is the rule book that tells us we have to be everywhere?
Tell your boss it’s Saturday and you’re not answering emails or texts. Tell your friends you’ll call them back when you get time. Tell people if they want you to call them back, then leave a voice message and you’ll make it happen.
We’re Not As Important As We Think We Are
When I got home, of course I went straight to my phone. I wanted to know what I had missed.
Four text messages and a Facebook message were displayed on the screen. That was it. Nothing urgent. Nothing that called for my immediate attention. No one needed my advice. Nothing that was important enough for me to drive back home and get the phone I thought I couldn’t live without.
My family was still in tact. My business hadn’t folded in a matter of hours. I still had the same friends I did before.
I didn’t miss a thing.
Actually, I gained. I got the perspective that I need to realign my priorities. I need to be more present in all of my relationships. If I’m going to keep living fully alive, some things need to change. I need to remember that I lived without technology once and I can certainly do it again.
What about you? Is it hard for you to be present? Can you stand the thought of going without your phone? Leave a comment below…
About Sundi Jo
I'm a speaker and author. My new book, Dear Dad, is a memoir of gritty redemption, offering hope to the broken. I love flip flops, Dolly Parton, and often dream of being a "Chopped" chef. Find me on Twitter (@sundijo).