Have you unplugged recently?

There’s an unhealthy expectation in our society that we’re accessible any time anywhere just because we can be. Too often in modern life, folks are too “plugged in”. Even young children seem to feel a compulsion to answer the phone regardless of what’s going on around them. Many now check their e-mail every time the smartphone in their pocket beeps instead of whenever they have a spare couple of minutes.

This culture of connectedness is not good for us, in my personal opinion. We need to unplug now and again. We need downtime. There’s nothing wrong with reading a book on (GASP!) paper and certainly nothing wrong with a simple solution to a problem so long as it works. A common analogy I like to use is technology is a toolbox. We need to train ourselves to take out only those tools to fill the needs of the moment. Just because you might have 12,000 different types of screwdrivers and wrenches doesn’t mean you need each one every day, although some do.

I’m not talking about simple work-life balance here, although an Amazon search for the term sure turns up enough books on the topic to tell me it’s a not insignificant part of what I mean. No, I am talking about much more than this.

The simple truth is that we don’t allow folks to just enter our homes whenever they wish. I would no more want some relative stranger popping in on me in my home than I want to interrupt my time with my child to speak to them. This isn’t during normal business hours, of course. I expect and desire customer contact during those times, within reason. In the past, I’ve had co-workers that would leave voicemail after voice mail less than 2 minutes apart, calling over and over.  Others would send e-mail then, after 5 minutes, phone in a panic because I have yet to respond.   I understand that I’m an odd geek but that’s just downright excessive.

I don’t have internet on my phone, despite owning a smartphone. I don’t check my e-mail every 12 seconds. If my phone rings and I’m in the middle of something the call will certainly end up going to voicemail. This is especially true if I’m with a client; when I’m on a client’s dime, I’m not going to pick up.  That time belongs only to the client for whom I am working.  I don’t block mobile Internet just to save money. There are a few times a month when I sort of wish I had Google in my pocket, I just find it to be a little bit too invasive, overall.

I’m a geek, with all the toys that entails. An inventory of them would bore most people but suffice it to say I have plenty of gadgets. That fact notwithstanding, sometimes we need to just unplug and get back to the basics of life!

Image: DoctorHa.net / Used with permission, all rights reserved

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