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Pulling the Plug


Wendy and I have been talking a lot lately about pulling the plug on our various digital devices. We all of us in our family experience the frustration that comes with trying to connect with someone who is physically present, but has their attention on a smart phone, computer, or TV. Jacked in, they called it in the science fiction circles I used to run in. Then it referred to a plug hardwired into your brain that you would physically plug into “deck,” some type of computer.

Turns out you don’t actually need a cord dangling out of your head to turn off the outside world and do away with all those pesky human interactions like paying attention to your kids or playing with your sibling. Any old device with a screen will do just fine.

Last weekend we stayed near the beach in Rockport, MA, courtesy of homeexchange.com. We hunted for shells and beach glass, spent time with friends, and explored a new town. We still had our devices with us, but their hold on us was loosened. We connected more with each other, and we thought about possibilities.

Now we’re plotting our escape to somewhere with no cell phone coverage, no Internet access, and no TV. Somewhere inspiring, somewhere warm in winter, somewhere to get tune with each other. Then, when we get home, we’ll put the TV in storage and leave our smart phones and computers at the office for a while and see how that goes.

Have digital devices begun to take over your life? Do you have a place to go to unplug? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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5 Responses to “Pulling the Plug”

  1. Britt Bravo says:

    I did the National Day of Unplugging and Loved it! http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/unplug

    You might like this article: Could you go info-vegan? A Diet for Information Overload:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-leadership/post/could-you-go-info-vegan-a-diet-for-information-overload/2011/04/01/gIQA8u3TTI_blog.html

    I think that reducing online time use is going to become a *very* trend soon.

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for those great resources, Britt. The WP article is particularly eye-opening. I already keep email notifications and social media notifications off, and I try to check email only 2x a day, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That schedule makes sure I never have more than 4 business hours between checks. Even so, clients expect near-instant responses, making an effort to cut back challenge.

      I also use an online tool called the Email Game, http://emailgame.baydin.com/, to cut down on the amount of time I spend on each email (works only for Gmail, through which I collect all of my email anyway).

  2. Britt Bravo says:

    I meant to say: is going to become a trend very soon (:
    Britt Bravo recently posted..Must See TV: Eli Stone

    • laura weiss says:

      amen Michael and Wendy
      I feel like a dinosaur and am proud to be one when I tell the world I don’t text….have a facebook account or iphone.
      I tell folks..call me…write me…make a
      face to face plan and break out of the cycle of”I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME….”
      cREATE SPACE …HIT THE DELETE BUTTON..instead of surfing the net so much..surf the ocean…

      • Michael says:

        Totally hear you, Laura. An increasing number of my friends have made themselves all-but unavailable except through social media and email. I’d say the quality of those interactions, especially for people I have been close to, leaves a lot to be desired. Today’s plethora of communications channels provides the illusion of closeness, but, I think, can actually drive people apart.

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