I spent the weekend in the UK visiting my family in London. When I got off the plane and turned my phone back on I felt relieved when I wasn’t connected to the internet. I sent an SMS text message to my aunt to tell her I’d arrived. It’s so rare that we send actual text messages, most of my communication is done via Whatsapp and FaceBook messenger.
When I arrived at my Aunt’s house my phone hopped onto her WiFi and I found my phone buzzing with vibrations of messages and notifications. Each time my phone buzzed I felt distracted and less connected to the actual conversations I was having with real life people, my family.
So I turned it off. For most of the weekend, I tried to leave my phone in another room or on aeroplane mode. When I was out and about in the city I had no access to the internet. It was so refreshing to be disconnected to my phone because I felt more connected to the real life experiences that were happening right in front of me.
I went to an exhibition. I read every single description and looked at all the photos. If I had my phone in front of me I would’ve been distracted and checked my social media every 5 minutes instead of appreciating the best wildlife photographs in the world.
It’s hard to understand why we constantly check our facebooks, twitters, Instagrams, snap chat, emails, Pinterest. Is it because we strive to be connected to something or someone? Is it easier to distract yourself with links to Buzzfeed articles and our friend’s photos than to deal with what’s really going on? I can’t say because I don’t know why I do it. I just do. It’s become so ingrained it’s now habitual. I check my phone without even consciously realising what I’m doing. It’s become as easy as breathing.
But now, I want to make the conscious decision to quiet the constant noise of social media. Why? Because it’s okay to disconnect. In order to appreciate the people I love and to live a life that brings me joy and meaning I have to disconnect to connect.
A friend of mine told me that he uninstalled his twitter, his facebook and his snap chat apps from his phone. This is something I’ve done before and found effective. So I’m going to delete the FaceBook and Twitter apps from my phone and turn on the amazing aeroplane mode on more, which my cousin and new mother swears by. Also, something I’m interested in learning about is why we use social media so much. If you’d like me to write about that let me know.
Now I’m off to throw my phone in the canal and live with monks on a mountain.