Step away from the devices!

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Health, Musings, Technology, Writing
Tags: , , , ,

High above the clouds, on my way from 75 F to 7 (or lower), I’m disconnected. Although this is one of the (pay) Wi-Fi flights, I have as usual resorted to a book on Kindle or pen and paper. Besides a dramatic change in temperature, on returning home I’ll experience a dramatic change in internet access as well.

At home, I have internet available constantly and, with my first smart phone, I can be online as much as I like…or as I can stand. (I can’t imagine wanting to read off my phone’s tiny screen and the small “keys” and tri-keyboard make typing onerous for one who excelled in typing.) But on a visit to Arizona, I return, if not to the Stone Age, to at least a quantum leap from an all-day-online-if-I-like world.

My parents not only don’t have internet, they don’t have or use a computer. Neither do they—are you sitting down?—use the ATM or have a smart phone and they favor paying in cash rather than with a credit card. You know what? They get along fine, although Dad has discovered the advantages of a daughter with internet access. Be that as it may, that sort of life is going to get more difficult as things convert to digital.

At home, the siren call of the internet tempts me to take “just one quick look at my (or someone else’s) blog”, “take a peek at Facebook” or send “just one email.” Minutes can morph unnoticed into half an hour or more while the things I really need or want to do go begging for attention.  But while visiting my parents, I have to go to the library or a Starbucks to go online for anything larger than what I want to do on my cell phone. I find myself anxious to get done and get back to relaxing, reading, going to art galleries, seeing the desert, lying in the sun or visiting. I start slipping more easily out of the online world than in, although I go through emails on my phone and delete whenever possible, leaving the ones I want to read or save. I love being able to easily connect with friends, but I find real life taking over more and more.

That’s a good thing.

That’s a break we all need now and then and are less and less likely to get or take. Because these days, you have to take that time back, get off the internet in whatever form, leave your phone behind once in awhile and certainly don’t look at it all the time even when you take it with you.

Talk with someone while in a line.
Look at your spouse when you talk to him or her, rather than at the tiny screen on your phone.
Watch a movie or TV together without being on another device; sit together on the couch.
Go for a walk.
Work a crossword puzzle or do a Sudoku.
Play a game NOT on a device.

There can be real life going on all around you. Disconnect and get back to it.

Just step away from the devices!


  1. M. R. says:

    I have only the two PCs – Chic’s still on WinXP because I need that for my Web-building and image-editing softwares, and mine on Win7. I do have a little Nokia mobile, but it’s only used for SMSs – and the VERY occasional call. Really it’s here for emergencies, as I’m alone.
    I loathe and detest that people go out and spend the time talking on their smartphones or reading from them. It’ PATHETIC, goddamit!
    Sorry. You rang my chimes.

    • There’s been discussion about allowing people to use cell phones on airplanes, which would be horrible. It’s bad enough having to listen to conversations in restaurants and other buildings as well as outdoors. But in the confines of an airplane, it would be terrible.

      One of the things that bothers me most is when people are out visiting and one or all of them have their phones out, checking mail, doing texts, etc. When you’re visiting, visit (unless there’s an emergency) and when you’re online, do that elsewhere.


  2. Cathy Ulrich says:

    It’s true, Janet. I think I have a pretty good balance between technology and life. My husband and I never use our devices while dining or watching T.V., but it’s amazing how many people have their faces glued to a smart phone in restaurants, shops, etc. Sounds like it was nice to unplug for awhile in AZ.

    • It really was, Cathy. There was a bit of withdrawal, but then an enormous sense of freedom. I’m working really hard at trying to keep a good balance, especially now that I have a smartphone and the temptation is always with me. 🙂


  3. We decided to have one pc-free day per week, where we do things together without all the “nerd-stuff”.

  4. Amy says:

    So very true, Janet! I saw a guy who was on the beach with his two little kids texting the entire time…

  5. What you say is so true. We are so depended on electronics. Remember when everyone complained you watch too much TV or you were on the family phone and told you been on that phone long enough. Well we can call those the good old day when we talked to each other verbally. When I visit my daughter we text or call between rooms.

    • We didn’t have a TV until I was in high school, so as a child I played outside with other kids from the neighborhood and read a lot. Our phone was a party line and I probably rarely used it at all. I think as time goes on, it’s going to become even more important to take time to be with people in person. I love Skype and being able to phone, but sitting down with someone in person is still special.


  6. suejansons says:

    My parents live in Maine, off the grid. They use solar power, gas power, and wood power. No electric whatsoever. t really is a nice break once you et used to it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Going on vacation to the mountains of Wyoming each year is good for disconnecting, too. Although we do have internet access there now, it’s slow and there are too many other enjoyable things to do, although I do keep up with my blog. 🙂 Good for your parents!


  7. mpejovic says:

    It’s so easy to stay connected 24/7, even though we don’t need it. I have a few Sundays unplugged last year and I thought it’s be hard but instead I found it liberating. This year, one of my goals is to have one unplugged Sunday every month. Yikes!

  8. […] fits in perfectly with the current Weekly Photo Challenge, Serenity, or with any discussion of the place of technology, disconnecting for our own good, and so on.  But it directly speaks about travel, whether to a […]