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Unplug and Recharge

3/25/2013
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I was introduced to a totally new concept a couple of weeks ago.  March 2 marked the official National Day of Unplugging - a sort of digital detox for the technology dependent.  I have to say, I first reacted to this notion with a sort of aversion.  I love my phone.  I often joke that my phone is the part of my hand that has always been missing. I use it in just about every facet of my life.  Why would anyone deliberately “unplug” themselves?  As I read more about the sundown-to-sunset day of abstention, I thought about my average day – the 8 hours that I spend in front of a computer at work, the way I jump a little when I receive a text message, the fact that I now require a cell phone and 3G to perform even the most mundane tasks…The other day I was driving home and heard my phone chime from my purse.  I didn’t pick it up while driving, but knowing that my phone was blinking that I has a message made me physically uncomfortable.  My smartphone was supposed to make my life easier, not create another obligation…and yet…

The National Day of Unplugging’s website asks that participants use the day to “start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.”  Originally, the day was created in the spirit of the Jewish Sabbath – a day of rest.  But, no matter your religious affiliation, the National Day of Unplugging speaks to something we can all use – a break.  A break from the buzzing, tweeting, chirping, liking, posting, and blogging. 

There is no disputing the prominent role technology plays in our life.  However, I do have to wonder what we are missing out on when we are plugged in.  I used to enjoy the peace and quiet that one seemed entitled to in the car.  Whether traveling for business or with the family, the car was no place for phone calls.  That is hardly the case now.  I know so many who not only make calls while driving, but respond to e-mails, text message, or watch Youtube videos while driving.  Aside from the obvious safety concerns that come with distracted driving, I feel we are all also losing one of the last contemplative spaces we had left – one of the last designated areas where we could enjoy an uninterrupted conversation or just take in the view from the window.

Ever go out to dinner with friends or family and realize that just about everyone in the place is on their smart phones?  They are posting photos, tagging each other, or just responding to texts.  I’m guilty of it myself.  Once your phone rings, it can be near impossible to ignore its siren song.  But, by spending our time on our phones instead of enjoying each other’s company, we are undermining the very reason we went out to begin with.  So, some have come up with a clever way to nip this trend.  The Phone Stack is a game where, after ordering, table mates place their phones face down in the center of the table.  Some people place them in a circle.  Others opt to stack them into a tower.  The rules are pretty easy.  No matter the chirping or the ringing, no one is to reach for their device.  The first person to commit this infraction and look at their phone must pick up the tab for the whole table!  This little game is quickly gaining traction across demographics as we increasingly realize it’s ok to take some time out every now and again.

Some have argued that while the National Day of Unplugging’s creator’s hearts were certainly in the right place, their concept may be a bit misguided.  Instead of spending one day a year abstaining from our technological tools, we might instead consider learning how to coexist with these tools without allowing them to own us.  We might consider creating boundaries – like the dinner table, the car, or the bedroom.  The creators of the National Day of Unplugging provided ten guiding principles for how to get the most out of your day sans digital:

1)  Avoid Technology

2)  Connect with Loved Ones

3)  Nurture your Health

4)  Get Outside

5)  Avoid Commerce

6)  Light Candles

7)  Drink Wine

8)  Eat Bread

9)  Find Silence

10)  Give Back

sunset

I have given this some consideration and these principles seem worth incorporating into my daily life – not just giving them one day a year.  My mother often tells me “all things in moderation” and these principles reflect that truth.  Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is the perfect place to go to add some balance to your life.  Whether you need the quiet peacefulness of the outdoors, quality times with the people who you love, or a hearty, nourishing meal, the lodge offers something far more sustaining than one day of technological abstention.  It offers the opportunity to truly unwind and experience the most important parts of living.

 Nicole Palmisano

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