I read a fantastic article today from The Greatist about the importance of taking the time to ‘unplug’ in our lives. It’s not a new concept. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been around for as long as technology has been around. But honestly, as I’m sure all of you know, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Thinking back, the last time I was completely tech-free for more than 8 hours was when my sister and I went on vacation to St. Thomas in 2012 and couldn’t afford what it would cost to “roam”. But that vacation 3 years ago taught me something valuable, because although we were only gone and unplugged for 4 days, in those 4 days I realized I didn’t really miss the internet. Obviously I was doing a lot of insanely cool and fun things that don’t generally comprise my daily life, but it was still just wonderfully freeing. I had no responsibilities. People knew I was gone. No one was waiting for a response to a text or wondering why I hadn’t replied to an email or Facebook message. I could simply enjoy my life in the present, and enjoy the company of my sister.
Because it seems to me that when we’re plugged in, we often feel more responsibility to be present online than to be present in the real world.
A relative of mine posted on Facebook over 4th of July weekend, saying something like “A friendly reminder that no one cares about your pictures of fireworks. Just enjoy the fireworks.”And I realized how very right he was. How many times have I – have all of us – been more concerned about making sure everyone knows about our experience than we are concerned about actually taking in those experiences? Our online image seems so incredibly important, so all-encompassing, that sometimes I have to go to an extreme and remind myself that when I am old and at the end of my life, it really will not matter what I posted on Facebook or Instagram. It will matter what I did, who I did it with, where I went and what I experienced as a human. Social media is fantastic for looking back at photos and memories, but we shouldn’t be taking photos and creating memories for the sake of social media.
I’m hardly advocating the abandonment of all things social here – I’m a self-confessed lover of everything digital, a curator of my personal brand and believer in the power of our digital footprints (in fact, that’s part of my job) – but I am advocating for more time spent unplugged. It doesn’t take much. When you’re out to dinner, be out to dinner. When you’re with your friends, be with your friends. Have conversations without checking your phone. The living, breathing people in our company deserve far more attention than the digital world.
Our lives are meant to be lived, not posted about.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to post this blog to social media.