Yesterday, I challenged myself to unplug from digital devices for 24 hours – to join others in the 24 Hours Unplugged Challenge.
I failed. Miserably. And? I’m totally OK with that.
It started with decent intentions. I pondered the challenge in a Facebook thread, which prompted others to get on board and for me to make a deal with Gini Dietrich, and that’s when I decided I better try to take it seriously.
By the end of the day on Friday, I already knew I’d be going in to the challenge with the full intention of checking email at least once (big client deliverable due in the morning) but, I thought I’d give it a solid try. As I stared at the clock from bed on Sunday morning and saw 7:45 a.m., my first thought was – “Oh yeah…that challenge starts in 15 minutes. I better go sync my reader on my iPad so I can catch up on blog reading tonight while I’m disconnected.” (Also…”I’m going to pretend the kids curled up in my bed watching cartoons via DVR doesn’t count.”)
I started my day…and almost immediately, was challenged by the notion of being digitally disconnected. Our Sunday morning routine includes cranking some classic rock while we make breakfast (OK…so no Pandora, satellite radio, or even pulling songs from our cloud) followed by sitting down with coffee and iPad to go online to read some news, take a look at local happenings, and pull together a grocery list.
All righty, then. As I sat with my coffee, alone and disconnected, I started to think about what I was going to prep for dinner, which then reminded me that I saved the recipe for the beet salad I planed to make in Evernote. Three strikes and it wasn’t even 9 a.m.
Then, my husband announces he’s going to spend the morning connecting the new Ooma system we purchased to set up our voice over IP. I just laughed. “So…once this gets set up, I’ll be using a digitally connected device just to make a stinkin’ phone call?”And then, my husband, the one who of all people I would have thought would have welcomed and pushed me to take this unplugged challenge, made me see the light…“We LIVE in a digitally-connected world!”
At the same time, my five-year-old reminded me that I had promised to load his new mp3 player with music from our servers, which further reminded me that I also needed to check to see when his doctor appointment was this week (online calendar) and register him for fall activities (online).
In that moment, I decided to give up on this challenge.
We live in a world in which technology and “being connected” aids productivity, organization, and communication. It gives us faster and more convenient access to news, information, retail and entertainment and more. To turn it off completely has become difficult at best, and, almost seems as ridiculous as say, deciding I’m going to opt out of zippers for a day. It’s our responsibility as humans to define where we need boundaries to separate our digital and physical worlds, just as much as we need to define where they will intersect. Like any good thing, too much, or too little, and it becomes less enjoyable.
Too much is too much, I get it. But still, we all need to use a zipper pretty much every day.