Why We Need to Unplug the Drug

I remember my first cell phone. I was in middle school, and it was used only to call my mom to tell her that I was done at Drama Club.

Fast forward into high school and I remember checking how many texts I had left for the month. If you weren’t in my network, there was a good chance we wouldn’t talk all that much outside of school. Group texting was the best way to chat with all your girlfriends at once, and (sorry mom!) flip phones were the best for texting in class.

Getting my first iPhone in college was even more exciting. All those Apps! Those amazing little blue text bubbles! FaceTime! And then came all of the social media platforms..

I reluctantly signed up for Twitter because of an internship that required me to, and I was well behind the ball by the time I got Instagram or Snapchat.

But once I was in, they had me. Hook, line, and sinker.

Somewhere along the way of growing up, technology snuck its way into almost every aspect of my life, becoming something that wasn’t a luxury, but a necessity.

My cell phone started joining my trips to the bathroom.

I got a job that required me to stare at a computer screen for 10+ hours a day.

The hours that I wasn’t tethered to a screen for work, I was scrolling away, catching up on the endless social media feeds.

Then I had to get glasses. I was starting at screens for so long that it was giving me headaches and affecting my eyesight.

Then I started questioning a lot of things in my life. I would scroll through my feeds looking at everyone else who had it all together. It seemed like the whole world was having the best, filtered time of their life.

Of course, my feed probably looked the same. We’re all guilty of it – because who is really going to post a picture of themselves crying in their hotel room every day after work? No one loves the person who constantly rants on Facebook about the woes of their life.

So how do we stay connected, without disconnecting with ourselves?

It’s a question I’ve been asking over and over again these last two years. One of the best things I could’ve done to try answering this was travel.

It forces you to unplug. It forces you to be present and look up. It forces you to take in every experience in real time, and not from behind a screen. It forces you to make an effort in your relationships. It forces you to live your life intentionally.

Then, after 4 fairly unplugged months, I came back to the Real World.

Trying to build an online community pretty much requires you to spend time plugged in. Add that to the freelancing work of building websites and managing social media profiles, and you’ve got yourself a plugged-in, screen-staring zombie all over again.

This time though, I’m learning to set limits. I think technology is amazing – and the fact that we can stay connected with so many people through online channels is one of the best parts of social media. That being said, there’s a point at which it starts to take over your life.

Do I need to follow 700 people on Instagram? Probably not.

Okay, 100% not.

I remember Pete being amazed at how many people I was following and asking me one important question: was it really worth my own time, missing out on my own life, to watch these 700 people live their lives?

Easy answer. Heck no.

Think about your own social media profiles. Do you get overwhelmed by the endless scrolling? Do you feel like you’re missing out on the newest updates if you’re unplugged for a few hours? How much time do you spend watching others live their lives rather than working to make yours the best it can be?

If you’re anything like me, it’s a little scary to think about.

Thankfully, I’ve been given a wonderful reminder of the freedom of unplugging.

Being on the road again, there’s just not the same time or opportunity to waste time on social media.

I barely have cell service let alone wifi, and the time that we do get online is prioritized to work on clients’ needs and building QFYC.

At first, I felt like I was out of the loop. Like somehow I wasn’t being a good friend because I wasn’t constantly updated on what each person was snapping or posting.

Then, something shifted. I stopped checking Snapchat.

Boy, does that sound melodramatic. It’s sad, but true. It shouldn’t be a big deal. But in today’s plugged in world it felt like a little slice of freedom.

Tonight, I actually deleted the app altogether. I’m starting to slowly unplug the drug.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in social media. It’s easy to scroll and scroll and scroll some more – to only learn what your friends are up to through their posts and updates.

I’m starting to believe more and more how all of these apps that are meant to connect us actually make us feel disconnected. Disconnected to ourselves, our friends, the world around us. Disconnected to our own lives.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on quitting social media altogether. Like I said before, I think technology is an amazing tool, if used the right way. The key here is not letting technology use you. It’s about setting limits and being intentionally about the time you spend offline.

As someone at the beginning of this journey, I always love learning how others set their limits. How do you unplug? How do you prioritize living in real life over scrolling? How do you make social media meaningful and not overwhelming?

If there are others out there looking to start unplugging the drug, join the conversation below. And then put the screen down, and spend some time outside. 🙂

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