To Unplug or Not To Unplug
This past weekend I went on my annual camping trip. Camping is something that I’ve always enjoyed since our parents introduced me and my sister to the art of hitting the road and unplugging from the hustle and bustle for a few precious days each summer. I always remember the best of vacation was taking time off from my usual routine (i.e., school or work), and leaving my friends behind as I built a new travel scrapbook with pictures, souvenirs, and unique moments that only a vacation could provide.
Even though many of us still take road trips and go camping, times have changed. Now we are plugged into two different worlds: our physical (3-dimensional) life, and our digital (virtual) life. Our virtual life has been built on email messages, online profiles, social media, pictures, video, and live chat; and through technology we are plugged-in to our work, relationships, and all aspects of life through smartphones, tablets, pads, chats, and IMs… a digitally-wired society only a few steps from The Matrix. I’m certainly not against any of the incredible technology in our world—in fact, I love it! But where do we draw the line between our “real” and “virtual” lives?
The term connection addiction didn’t exist a few years ago, but it does now. And it’s getting serious. In fact, I would venture to say that connection addiction has the potential to pass up ADHD as the leading social epidemic of our culture—a sign of the times. Where does this addiction come from? How do we distinguish between our real life vs. virtual life? And how do we learn to unplug from the virtual world and keep our balance?
We pay attention to what we are paying attention to.
When we focus our attention on the people and activities in our physical reality, we are plugging into them. When we focus our attention on the people and activities in our virtual reality (with our nose in our phone, laptop, pad, etc.), we are plugging-in them. We cannot be two places at once—either we are here or there. And if we’re there, we’re not here.
So where is your attention going? What are you missing out on here, while your plugged into the virtual world there? THAT is the question only you can answer.
Tips to Help You Unplug:
- Put It Down. Now, Back Slowly Away From Your Phone. Need I say more? You didn’t live with a smart phone 10 years ago; you can go without it for a day or two now. Seriously. Go on vacation or take a “staycation” and literally unplug from the world once in a while by taking a technology break. You’ve got this.
- Slow Down on Social Networking. There’s nothing wrong with building your network, just don’t camp-out on social networking sites all day long. Everyone doesn’t need to know where you are and what you’re doing all the time. Maintain some privacy and mystery in your personal life. And if you use social media for your business, consider outsourcing your regular updates to automated programs like Hootsuite or Buffer.
- Travel Out of Your Comfort Zone. Take a trip to see friends and family on the other side of the country, state, or go to the other side of town! Just get away from your familiar surroundings and breath some new air once in a while. Plus, problems in life always take on a different perspective when you’re away from them.
- Be Present. Be Here. There is power in presence. Stop, breathe, and bring yourself totally into the present moment.
Coach’s Challenge: This week, pay attention to how much you are plugging into your real life vs. your virtual life, and answer these questions:
- How are my real and virtual worlds similar? How are they different?
- How is my personality similar or different between my real and virtual worlds? Where am I most authentic? Least?
- In what ways can unplugging from the virtual world help bring better balance to my life? My relationships?
Whether it’s by taking a vacation, or just turning off the TV, computer, or phone, we can return our focus and attention to the people and activities in our environment by consciously unplugging from the technology ether more often. This pause can help bring a better, more natural balance to your daily routine as well as in your relationships. And wouldn’t it be nice to have that extra time to chat with Grandma? She’s been waiting very patiently.
To Our Better Balance!
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is a professional speaker, best-selling author, and life transition coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com
Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days Steps & Keys or one of the other books in the balance series, and start finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. Want this blog sent to your inbox? Then subscribe to Balance Bits by visiting my Contact page.
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Picture courtesy of my summer road trip, 2012