My phone was less-than-gently caressed by an extra exuberant wave of an incoming tide. Last time I checked, iPhones and oceans don’t mix. So it immediately went into a bag of rice (well, as soon as I could get to the grocery store). Which somehow worked, or the water didn't get inside the phone as much as expected. Either way, I was without a phone for 48 hours. And I learned some things. Thanks, Universe.
I was away for a wedding weekend when this occurred. So at the wedding, I took no photos, I sent no texts, and I did no posting on Instagram or Facebook. I was present in each moment, with the people I was with. The next day, I decided to take the long way home (cue Supertramp). I went exploring on a scenic route from New Bedford, Massachusetts back to Warwick, Rhode Island. I made a rough plan from the hotel computer and used my car GPS map. I had no phone, but I did have an iPad to take pictures, and to potentially connect to coffee shop wifi in case of "emergencies" and to tell my Mom I wasn’t dead. But there was nothing instantaneous about my connection to others or the digital world. I didn't even have my Spotify, which is my go-to for driving. It was me, the good old-fashioned radio, and the open road.
I was extra present. It felt different. I felt more peaceful and more alive at the same time. I savored each moment of my aloneness and my wandering. My conclusion?
Too much screen, text, and social media time is slowly killing us. It’s taking away our freedom. It’s trapping us in a prison of falsehood, a bad dream, a matrix of non-reality. When I’m thinking about my phone, I'm not present to the world around me. The way I used to be as a child and young adult, before smartphones, was true freedom that I didn’t even realize I had lost. I tapped back into that yesterday.
It’s time to take back our lives. Being buried behind a phone is not living. It’s a limitation that I feel pressing down on me and closing in...
Right now, I am thinking about how to maintain an online presence for my business without sacrificing my own presence in the world. Taking the time to post a photo to an Instagram story in the moment, dilutes my experience of that moment. In feeling that I need to share each experience with the wider world of social media, I am losing my personal connection to, and absorption of, that experience. It’s become surface. It’s become superficial.
I don’t want to give up being present in the world anymore. I share because maybe this realization can help you too. Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts.
Yesterday, I savored every color, the flavor of my coffee, an amazing (gluten-free, because it’s me) sandwich. Every smell, the fresh air. Every sound, the rustling leaves and the path under my feet. The sensation of my open window breeze, and the first chilly air that foreshadows the fall to come. I was alive. Because I wasn’t multi-tasking trying to instashare my experience or check email or text. I was alone. But not really alone. The singing birds, the Queen Anne’s Lace, the rocky gravel, and the meandering country roads kept me company.
I saw a house overgrown and overtaken by Mother Nature. I realize my mind has become like this abandoned home. It’s crowded. It’s confused. Meditation and yoga have been necessary just to keep me sane. The technology and fast-paced lifestyle of our modern world has become too much for my brain to withstand. I’m a buzzing highway of fleeting information, thoughts, emotions, memories.
But I realized yesterday… when I’m present to the world and I unplug from the social matrix, when I slow down and am present in each moment and experience, that clutter dissolves. And I am free. Not having a smartphone in my purse released me from a grip I didn’t realize was holding me so tightly.
We can all be free.
I'm researching the best gentle alarm clocks. My phone isn’t allowed in my bedroom anymore. No exceptions. I’m creating a new digital detox plan to take my life back. Not a short-term digital detox fad diet. A new digital lifestyle plan.
I will share it with you and if you’d like to join me, we can support each other. Mentally. Or on a scheduled phone date.
Definitely not in a Facebook support group.
Before I go, please don’t misunderstand me.
Technology is a wonderful thing, when used appropriately. Technology has given rise to the age of information (the Age of Aquarius has dawned) - we are able to learn, access, and connect with people and ideas in ways that would have never been possible before. It’s beautiful! It’s helping those in their spiritual awakenings, it’s helping people to become more informed about health, wellness, important issues, and it’s helping us stand up and mobilize against those that oppress, poison, and abuse us (hello government, big pharma, big agriculture, and more).
But even wonderful things must be consumed with the proper moderation. Sunlight is love and light, but too much of it will burn us. Water is life, but an overdose of water can actually harm us (although most of us are far from reaching those levels, so keep reaching for that water bottle!). Technology is the same. Let’s learn to use its benefits without allowing it to poison our personal experiences and infiltrate our lives. The world will not end if we don’t document each experience. Live your life for you...not for the likes.
So tell me in the comments...how are you going to take back your life?
The beautiful thing about being disconnected and free to wander... we find the most unexpected places. This is Carla Lee and her little Angel Shop and Crystal Shop. She lives in a beautiful farmhouse with her husband and they've put together this shop. She said while they do have a small online presence, they rely very much on word of mouth. Or, if you happen to see the hand-painted wooden signs on the road that point toward "Angel Shop," like I did. I went there and purchased some crystals, and connected with a beautiful soul. Check out the Angel Shop at 956 Sodom Road in Westport, MA.