It’s time to take back some time. I’ve lost irretrievable time – sucked away into the black hole of technology. Of course, it’s my fault for not managing it better but I am claiming it back. Starting today, Mother’s Day until Father’s Day I am going cold turkey. No Facebook, no Twitter, no personal email and no other social media of any kind during this time. While I THINK there are some business benefits, I haven’t realized enough to warrant the estimated 4-6 hours a week I spend on it – hours I’ll now spend doing other things. Of course, there are some benefits of social media and technology but I think there is a great deal of time suck too. There are three things that inspired my action to go on a technology diet Sabbatical (which also includes a diet from the codependency I have with my cell phone).
- An intense desire to connect more deeply and personally with family and friends
- The hectic pace in which my life has been for most of this year (for which social media, in particular, has only contributed to the hurry)
- Efforts led by Oprah for a No Phone Zone (watch this video clip and print this No Phone Zone sign to put in your car).
The last few months I haven’t been helped but rather hindered by 24/7 access to email and social media. In the last month alone, I have witnessed or participated in the following:
- Spending most of a 2 ½ hour flight from Denver online (while missing an incredible sunset outside.
- “Complaining” to a flight attendant when Gogo (Delta’s in flight internet) wasn’t available on a short flight to Detroit last week.
- Stopping at a rest stop that had free wireless while driving from Iowa to Minnesota….just to try it out.
- Twice seeing men in public restrooms texting while using the urinal
- Conversing with a couple who, while she read Live The Life You’ve Always Wanted, he talked on his Crackberry Blackberry (he admitted in our conversation that sometimes at dinner with the family, he’d check email or respond to a text while waiting for the food to arrive).
I’ve had enough (at least for awhile). So I am quitting… cold turkey. Yeah, I’ll travel with my phone if I am away on business but I have taken the Oprah No Phone Zone pledge and have printed it out, both to post in my car and in my luggage, as a reminder to pull over IF I have an URGENT call. I figured I survived until my early forties without a cell phone so I certainly can make it for 41 days. Extreme measure? Perhaps. Unnecessary? I think not.
My technology avoidance may not work for everyone but it’s a needed step for me to re-connect. Here’s what I expect to happen while on my temporary social media and cell sabbatical:
- Less neck and shoulder stress from losing 4-6 hours a week in computer time
- A more relaxed schedule . I believe some of the very things that are supposed to help us connect with others have actually made most of us connected less with those who matter most.
- More time for building lasting relationships and less time on digital relationships that probably don’t matter.
- Fewer but deeper “conversations” with people for whom I don’t need web access for “talking”.
- More time to play with and read to my kids.
- Time to play or listen to music.
- Quiet. Nothing. Letting my brain rest and my body regenerate.
- Taking slow walks with my wife and family.
- Time to make a few fabulous dinners from recipes I have been collecting from Facebook (just kidding).
It seems to me that one on one communication has been replaced by communication with the masses. So IF you want to “connect” with me during my sabbatical, “friend” me, or Twalk to me, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way via snail mail or a phone call. I’ve faced the fact that I won’t be on Facebook and I won’t be Twalking on Twitter, and will only use e-mail for business communications. As for my cell phone, the ringer will be off and I will only use to call my family OR in a REAL emergency. I’m unplugging and I’ve never been so excited about the possibilities for real connections.