I’m suddenly hyper-aware of how often I get the nagging urge to check the piece of glass and metal that's usually in my pocket. Then I notice the feeling of relaxation that comes with remembering that it’s turned off, sitting in a bag and not requiring my attention.
The feeling of spending time with my family, and most importantly, with Miranda, who is seven months pregnant with our first child – a baby girl. Watching Rigby (that's who the shit bag belongs to) play in the grass with utter contentment. All these incredible people and moments around me, and I can actually pay full, undivided attention to them. Being completely present — what a wonderful, yet slightly strange feeling.
It's the strangeness that is most concerning to me. Our incredible digital connectedness creates a nagging distraction as we go through our day. What’s happening? Have I received a message? Does someone need me?
We all love to feel needed and every little bleep and bloop of our devices satisfies that need just a little bit. We're addicted and until we power everything off it’s hard to see how big a part of our lives this connection has become.
When we unplug maybe we wake up just a little bit more.
I’m a hypocrite. We’re all hypocrites. On one hand, we're concerned about the impact that extreme, constant connection has on us, but on the other hand, we love it, crave it – we need it. The power of mobile, always connected devices is extraordinary. It’s already changed our lives for the better and it’s still early days. We have no idea what will come in the next few years or decades.
But deep down, we all know that this shift in our lives is changing how we behave and think. It's changing who we are. And that's mildly terrifying.
More and more, I’m convinced that intentional disconnection is crucial to maintaining some perspective about ourselves. There's no need for extremeism, but rather just some kind of balance. There is value in being connected, but also in taking a break. Balance will look different for each of us, but acheiving balance requires intentional awareness of how deep down the rabbit hole we are.
I’ve been completely offline for less than 24 hours, but already my brain feels different. More open, more relaxed. I can feel parts of my mind that I haven’t touched in a while. Maybe they are hidden by the addiction to being connected and needed. Perhaps constant, low-level distraction sends those parts of my brain scurrying for dark corners.
These are parts of my brain that I miss. It’s an ephemeral feeling — I can’t articulate exactly what these ‘new’ parts of my brain do but I feel that they’re important. I want to feel them more, to spend more time with them.
I’ll bet that if I could pay attention to them more, I’d be better at my work. I’d be more creative, I’d write more, I’d focus on the parts of my life that matter more. I’d have more love and attention to give to those who matter.
Instead of watching my feeds, and waiting for the next notification to come in.