I am … a connected man. At any given time, I have two smartphones in my pockets, and many more in my “nerd bag“, along with a couple tablets, MacBook Pro, and a host of related devices. (Currently a Moga Pro controller, NEX-5N camera, UE Boom speaker, UE earbuds, Bluebuds X, etc.)
In other words, I’m always connected – some way, somehow – to the Internet. I tweet dozens of times every day, I post to Google+ regularly, and I creep on Facebook for a collective hour throughout the day. I send tens of thousands of messages on Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and Google Voice every week. I receive and send dozens of emails every day. And before winding down at night, there are a handful of YouTube subscriptions I make sure to watch before I go to sleep.
Every hour of every day, I’m on the Internet. And rarely do I get a break.
Honestly, on most days, I neither want or need a break. I enjoy the seamless connection I have between my colleagues, friends, and followers. It makes everything much more simple, and everything is literally a few clicks away.
This integral connectivity has made me smarter. (I Google search … everything. Because I can.) It’s made me more efficient. And I’m rarely ever bored.
But it also has a darker side. Sometimes the weight of the Internet is just too much to carry around at all hours of the day. Sometimes the inescapable buzzing of my watch and symphony of ringing phones in my office is enough to make you feel further from the real world than ever.
The blinking light and pulsing display coming from my night stand keeps me awake longer and longer each night. And those moments when I just want to have a normal, uninterrupted conversation with a real human being, it seems my watch will never stop shaking on my arm.
(Whomever thought putting notifications on a watch was discrete was … sorely wrong. If anything, it makes anyone you’re talking to feel like they’re keeping you from something or boring you to death. And it always warrants an explanation.)
This isn’t a recent discovery, and it’s not some epiphany I had overnight. I realized it a long time ago when I started staying up all night tweeting and responding to notifications from people around the world. I realized that technology was, in a sense, getting in the way of my otherwise normal life.
“Normal life? But you’re a tech journalist!”
Call me what you will, but I’m still an average Joe. I simply spend a lot of time around technology. And I, like any other person, need a break from time to time, to step away from the ever-connected world and regress back into the dark ages for a split second … or a few days.
I don’t totally disconnect often, but almost every weekend, I intentionally go dark on the Internet. I’ll share a picture here and there, and I may tweet a few times. But, for the most part, you won’t find me on the Internet between Friday night and Monday morning. My laptop usually stays off and in the “nerd bag” I mentioned above. I still carry my phones, but I dismiss 95 percent of all notifications that come in, only carrying conversations with personal friends and answering or returning calls.
I don’t usually check my emails or read through a backlog of RSS feeds until I wake up on Monday morning.
And sometimes a simple disconnect like that just isn’t enough. When I go home for the weekend, I sometimes put my phones on airplane mode for several hours. For instance, this past Sunday, I visited my father’s side of the family. I turned the Lumia 1020 off and left it in my car. I switched on airplane mode on the Moto X, and I left it that way for the better part of five hours.
Not once did I worry about missing a call or how many messages I would have waiting on me when I turned data back on. I hung out with my dad and worked on building a motorized camera slider.
And guess what? I survived!
Joking aside, disconnecting is one of my favorite things to do from time to time. And I try to fully disconnect at least a few times every month, while drastically cutting back my online activity on most weekends. It’s refreshing. And I highly recommend it to all.
To that end, I’m interested to hear how you ladies and gents disconnect. Take part in our poll below, and share your thoughts in the comment section below!