I’ll never forget getting my first beeper — granted I’m dating myself by admitting that. Do they even still use beepers?
I just remember working at Sprint Communications. I was in charge of the data room in Chicago. I needed a beeper in case something happened and they needed me at the office. I was on call 24/7. I loved it at first and then grew to hate it. I swore I never again wanted to be at the mercy of a little electronic device and the whims of my boss.
Fast forward 20 years.
Instead of beepers we have pocket cell phones – we can access email, text messages, Facebook, twitter, 24/7 and if we aren’t careful – we can become a slave to technology. One little buzz, beep, or vibration can send the most resilient of us scrambling for our phones lest we miss an important message. For some reason, that did not seem to bug me nearly as much as my beeper.
I’m not sure when it happened exactly or which moment pushed me over the edge.
Was it looking up from my iPhone long enough to see my family seated around the table nose deep in their phones?
Was it having my backpack of electronics stolen from my car and realizing I can live without my iPad after all?
Was it the fact that I was beginning to forget that my husband has brown eyes that turn green sometimes? Or was it the long lines at the Apple store for the much coveted iPhone 5?
Maybe it was just the realization that my online “friends” were starting to replace my real friends.
I’m not really sure, and frankly it doesn’t matter. The week everyone else was waiting in line to get their newest phone is the week my husband I went to Best Buy to replace my iPad. It was then that I discovered I can get a tablet for half the price and get an internet hub for the same price as my iPhone data plan.
This would still give me internet access on the road if needed. And it would also give me something else – intention.
I am no longer a slave to my iPhone. I down graded to a simple “dumb phone” if you will. No internet, just voicemail, cell service and texting. And while it took some getting used to, I’m happy with the change.
Now when I’m somewhere, I have to intentionally turn on the hub to access the net.
This makes me more more productive and it has also made me aware of how much time I spent mindlessly searching the net for connection all under the guise of “work.”
I will admit I went through withdrawals. Not having immediate access to Google was rough. Instead of relying on the net to tell me what something meant or where something was I had to think for myself again. I had no idea how reliant I’d actually become to that little gadget in my hand.
Contrary to my initial belief that I would lose my productivity, I find I am more productive online when my activity is intentional. We still have internet at home and my tablet does have WiFi. I’m not totally unplugged. I still find out about upcoming gigs and auditions. I still write and I discovered that I’m less likely to post a knee jerk status update or twitter announcement, which is a good thing really.
Being unplugged in this way helps me see more of life, to notice the trees and remember the color of my children’s eyes. I’m really starting to like not having my iPhone and iPad for that matter. And by the time I went on my cruise with some girlfriends (where you cannot connect without exorbitant fees) I didn’t miss it at all.
I’m curious — if you could unplug from one piece of equipment in order to improve your relationships, what would it be?