October 7, 2018: Unplugged
“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master. “ Christian Lous Lange
Photograph taken October 5, 2018 Danforth, Maine
First of all, I want to say, as much as I am a “nature girl”, I love technology. Technology has made so many things in life easier and more efficient. In particular, I am thrilled in how fast I can access information, reach out to friends, pay bills, shop and be entertained. My Mac laptop is a joy to work with, helping me enhance and bring to fruition, creative outputs, from photography to writing. I don’t have to wait, the world is at my fingertips in seconds.
On the other hand, my cell phone has become a dangerous master, to the point where I feel panicky when I can’t find it. When we’re in northern Maine, I have to rely on a hotspot (portable, internet connector device) to get any type of internet reception for my computer. The peace and beauty of the area have balanced out the frustration of dropped, often slower internet reception. As a result, I rely heavily on my phone. Like a security blanket, it gives reassurance that if I need anything from critical information to friendship, it’s just a phone call away. It’s my backup, fulfilling that need for instant gratification.
This week was a wake-up call, in just how dependent I had become. We had inclement weather which always seems to put a glitch on hotspot reception. On Tuesday, in a dash through the rain, my phone slipped out of my hand and hit the ground. To my dismay, when I picked it up, the fancy glass screen had shattered. Even more horrifying, the screen was only half lit, and the touch component, (which makes it “so smart”) no longer worked. None of the buttons worked, I couldn’t turn it off or on, and couldn’t access any of my data, passwords or stored numbers. Of course, the phone started to ring within seconds, but I couldn’t answer it. And the numbers were so dim, I couldn’t see who it was to call back. With a new website recently launched, I was frantic about not being able to reach or respond to customers .
Three hours with a Verizon customer service later, my phone was still broken, the screen now irrevocably shattered (technician had me try to pull screen off) and I had a promise a new one would be coming in two days.
I literally went through a form of withdrawal. The first day, I kept reaching for the phone and went through a variety of emotions from anxiety to frustration. Like a phantom, it haunted my thoughts. To access the internet, I had to go to out in the rain to the studio, boot up my computer, hot spot, and wait. Used to the stimulation of frequent, immediate updates on social media and news, I had to let this go. It wasn’t easy, I found myself to be cranky and easily irritated. It also showed me how incredibly dependent I was on this harmless looking gadget.
After two days, my new phone arrived. I can be honest to say, I’m delighted to have it back. But I’m also aware of how addictive it can be and will plan to take time each day to unplug from any type of technology. When we hiked that night, I left my phone behind. No rings interrupted the sounds of evening in the woods. It was incredibly peaceful.
On our way back, I realized that without the cacophony of potential cyber sidetracks, I could focus on what and who was right in front of me.I could truly be present, a gift to my husband, and upon reflection to myself.
I made a decision to set blocks of time during the day that will be completely computer/phone/television free. These are baby steps, I know, but I believe it will ultimately lead to more calm and peace. Instead of floating around cyberspace, my feet and thoughts will be firmly in the present and on the ground
Have you taken steps to unplug? I’d love to hear how you do it!
October 9, 2018
I agree, taking a break from the chains of social media and instant gratification is an excellent plan. However, when hiking would not be the safest time to do so You may find yourself in some moment of true need of that technology when you need it most! I’ll feel better for you if you do a manual disconnect when you’re home!
October 16, 2018
Thank you sweet Darlene. You are right and I will make sure we have some type of device to contact for help if we need it. I’ve had an experience where we did. Cell phones weren’t available twenty years ago, and it would have really been helpful to have one when we were lost and stranded on top of a mountain.