Thursday, July 11, 2013


Living in this crazy digital world it's so easy to be constantly chained to our smart phones or tablets or laptops. I could let myself easily be sucked in every night to constantly checking Facebook and Twitter and email (both personal and work). I'm attached to my cell all day during work, and when I get home I make a conscious effort (on most nights) to put my phone on its charger upstairs in our bedroom and leave it. The ringer is on vibrate, and if you call me in the evenings it's very unlikely you will get in touch with me. 

This is a very deliberate decision on my part. I love the internet. I love checking to see what my friends and family are up to on Facebook, scrolling through Twitter to check sports scores and news stories. I would say that 95 percent of the news I receive I get through Facebook and Twitter. I very rarely visit news websites, and I next to never watch the news on TV. Despite that (or maybe because of it) I also recognize the need to walk away from the smart phone.

When we went to Jamaica last week we completely disconnected, and it was so freeing. Nobody could get in touch with us (although my mother-in-law did have the direct number to the hotel in case of emergencies), and it was amazing. I read five novels. I napped. I watched the world pass by and felt like I was part of it. I realize I need to do it more often.

I was absolutely astonished at the number of kids and teenagers at the hotel in Jamaica, this gorgeous resort in paradise right on the ocean, sitting in the lobby (where there was Wi-Fi) texting or playing on tablets. Perhaps my husband and I will be the most unpopular parents ever, but it wouldn't fly. If you're on a family vacation, BE on a family vacation. Be together. Get in the pool. Play on the beach. Sitting in the lobby and watching a show on the iPad while the Caribbean sits outside the door? Completely unacceptable.  I wanted to walk by all of this kids and smack the devices out of their hands. (Actually that would have been hilarious).

Check out this view, kids. Get off the phone!
We have a rule at our house that there is no cell phone use during dinner. It doesn't matter if it's work or family or anything. Nothing interrupts dinner time together. This will continue once we have kids. If we can't walk away from technological interruptions for a half an hour to eat together and talk, that is sad.

This month's issue of Fast Company magazine has a piece about Baratunde Thurston, CEO and cofounder of Cultivated Wit, disconnecting from the Internet for 25 days. No check-ins, no status updates, no tweets, no email. It's a fascinating and eye opening piece. It would be hard to do, but also wouldn't it be kind of amazing? I'm not suggesting we all disconnect for the better part of a month, and frankly many of our jobs wouldn't give us the luxury. But trying to disconnect from technology on a regular basis would be a good idea for all of us.

The ability to disconnect is one of the reasons I run naked (i.e. without music).  Even if it's a low mileage week, I know that for at least a few hours that week I am completely in tune with my surroundings. Nobody can call me. Nobody can text me. It's fantastic.  I get why people run with music, but I think everybody should run naked at least occasionally. There's a whole world out there when you're running - you might want to enjoy it.

We've become a world so fast-paced and crazy, and yet we're missing so much. Maybe we should all take a page out of Baratunde Thurston's book (or at least dog ear the page) and #disconnect.    

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