I’ve been thinking a lot about technology and the internet, and their relationship with my new found love of some analogue technologies. When I get back to Australia, I’ll experiment with a few ideas that I’ve been playing with – but for now I wanted to share some of my thoughts on always-connectedness.
I recently had an epiphany – and I’m not the first to have it – that I was always connected. With my phone on me, I could answer emails, chat on skype, check facebook, get directions, google answers to questions, read restaurant reviews, you name it. Then one day my phone battery died and I had to find a way to make things work without it.
It was only for a short while, but you know what? I survived. In fact, I enjoyed finding my way on my own. I made some mistakes, and I probably wasn’t as efficient as I could have been – but I just felt better about it.
More and more I’ve been experimenting with leaving my phone at home while we travel. I can’t get directions, so I read maps instead. I can’t read restaurant reviews, so any cool places I discover are my discoveries. I can’t google answers to questions, so I write it down and find the answer later. I feel more aware and alert and independant.
I’m not talking about total disconnection. I’m just talking about choosing when you’re connected and when you’re not. Can you leave the house without your phone on you? How often do you turn your phone off? If you’re in a queue, do you pull out your phone? If you answered “no”, “only when it crashes”, “yes”, maybe you’re suffering from always-connectedness.
My theory is that we can be happier by only being online for part of the day, and spending the rest of the day disconnected. When I arrive back in Aus I’m going to test that theory over the course of a few months. Here are some ideas I’ve had for removing always-connectedness from my life.
Allocate a space – a real, physical space – to connect.
It might be an office or a computer area or the lounge chair. Having a physical space for being connected allows you to allocate a mental space for it too – so that your brain knows when it’s in connected mode.
This should free your brain to pay more attention when you’re disconnected. You should notice that you’re more aware, better at planning, better at listening, memorising, etc.
Remove facebook from your phone.
This is about breaking the check-your-phone habit. There’s always something new on facebook – and you’re liable to get a new notification or message at any time. It’s so easy to create a habit of pulling out your phone and checking facebook (or twitter or instagram or pinterest or whatever) the moment there’s a lapse in other things trying to get your attention.
Turn off phone notifications (especially email).
An extension of removing facebook is to turn off all notifications on your phone. Did you get an email while you were doing grocery shopping or walking the dog? It can wait. Pay attention to what you’re presently doing and deal with the email the next time you’re in your physical connected space.
Get a notebook.
Once you break the check-your-phone habit, you’ll quickly realise that when your brain has a moment of peace it likes to spend its free time thinking of great ideas! Don’t let this go to waste. Get a notebook and bring it with you, and make a note whenever inspiration hits you.
You can also use it to plan, think, write letters to people, and be creative. It’s a great nicotine style patch for while you’re getting check-your-phone withdrawals - just pull out your notebook instead.
No phone in the bedroom.
This is an easy one, and when you think about it, it’s really a no-brainer. Don’t ever bring your phone into the bedroom. Put your phone chargers somewhere else. Get a different alarm.
This has some amazing side effects. Firstly, you’ll spend better quality time with those you love most – whether they’re trying in vain to sleep beside you or waking you up in the morning. Secondly, you’ll get longer and better sleep without the I’ll-just-check-it-quickly-wait-it’s-been-an-hour-already? screen time before bed.
Get a dumbphone.
This is a really simple band-aid-pull solution to always-connectedness. Find a phone with no internet. Now whenever you’re out and about you have no temptation to be online warming up your pocket.
I know I’m not the first person to think about these things – I found a great video on it (below) just the other day. Other people have tried disconnecting with various degrees of success – I’ll be letting you know how it works out for me.
Is this something that you’ve every thought about or put into practice?
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