According to Merriam-Webster, “disconnect” is a verb that means, “to sever or interrupt the connection of or between.” Of course, easier said than done, Merriam-Webster. With the vast and growing options in technology and social media, disconnecting has been getting more difficult to do. However, it is important for us all to be able to leave our means of technology behind and live in the moment.
Outside of the obvious personal connections and new things we can experience when we aren’t hiding behind a screen, it’s a proven fact that embarking on a digital detox or temporarily going tech free can make us healthier. You’ll sleep better (a Harvard study found the blue light that devices give off can throw off your sleep by almost 3 hours!), be less stressed (ever get caught up in someone else’s Facebook drama?!), have less headaches (text neck is a real thing!) and make time for new opportunities and activities (when one laptop closes, another adventure opens!). Plus, multiple studies show turning off your phone, stowing your laptop and swearing off school or work emails during a trip can lead to increased concentration, better posture and lower stress once you’re back at the desk.
As a Margaritaville College Ambassador and an individual who frequently checks social media, I know the struggle of staying up-to-date and in contact with everything that is going on…on campus, with my friends and family, and with Margaritaville. I also know the importance of leaving all varieties of social media behind to focus on what is truly important: friends, family and self-care.
Disconnecting, unplugging, or going tech-free is highly valued and imperative. Constantly being attached to our phones and other various devices may not seem like a big deal, but it has a lasting impact. It can even be dangerous!
Look at the most common example: distracted driving. Constantly being connected makes us unaware of our surroundings from what is happening on the road to the beautiful sound of the waves rolling in. It takes us way from what matters, like quality time with loved ones and living in the “now.”
Of course, technology allows us to communicate with those who are far away, but it takes us away from those who are nearby. Some restaurants are even starting to offer discounts to patrons who leave their phones with the host to make sure that families are spending quality time together.
One of the easiest ways for me to disconnect is by following the motto, “Out of sight, out of mind.” I have learned that keeping my cell phone within reach does not work for me, as it is still tempting to reach over and check to ensure that I do not have any notifications. Keeping my phone completely out of sight allows me to forget about the tweets, texts and likes…and just be in the moment.
One bad habit I need to personally improve is taking tons of photos to the point where it is taking away my ability to focus on the present fully. I easily have more than 1,000 photos on my phone of friends, family, and places I’ve visited. I also attend quite a few concerts every summer with the goal of getting “the concert pic,” which captures the stage and the artists in great detail. I have come to realize that getting this picture is a fault, as I have become obsessed with capturing the moment. I may only want one perfect picture, but how much time is it taking me to capture it? While a picture is worth a thousand words, take the time to see with your eyes, rather than seeing through a screen.
So even if you aren’t ready to go cold turkey and commit to a complete digital detox, you can try creating tech-free zones in your home, commit to a day, or even just a small block of time, every week where you disconnect or simply resist the temptation to immediately check your phone whenever you hear a ding or whistle.
No matter the approach you take, your body, friends and family will all thank you!
Have you tried going tech free? How was it? Let us know @margaritaville.