No matter where we go in 2015 we can be reached at will by the outside world. Cell phones and text messages, Bluetooth and Sync, Skype and email -- you're only a click away from being found. Honey, you're in techno overload; I am a prisoner of technology!
Everywhere I am, it is rare for me not to see someone without a contact device. I am as guilty as anyone else; I am always connected. I love the Bluetooth sync in my car that allows me a hands-free talk fest as I'm driving. I love my cell phone for calls and those oh-so-important text messages, and I think Skype is the greatest thing created since the wheel. Oh yes, I am a well-connected woman!
But something happened when I was in pre-publication with my first book. A chance remark by my copy editor made me stop and think about how I was allowing myself to be a "prisoner" of all-day technology, every day.
Mentioning that I was going on vacation over the holidays, I also told her that she could reach me at any time she needed to do so. I would be available through my iPhone, Skype, my laptop, or my tablet 24 hours a day. "It's no problem," I said. "Contact me whenever you need me."
The response, coming from a woman who is excellent at what she does and always goes "above and beyond" for her authors, surprised me: "Oh no," she replied, "Take time to enjoy yourself. For me vacations are sacrosanct! You need to unplug, Kristen."
Her advice, though very difficult to do (I literally felt a little bit insecure without my tech lifeline to the world), made sense.
Therapists say that breaking the techno chain addiction can lead to depression and a feeling of being lost, so I was hesitant to completely go cold turkey. After the first two days, and only after my husband and I made a deal that all our "tech things" would be put in the safe in our resort room, did I begin to relax. I broke the invisible chain to my laptop and cell phone. (Okay, I admit that I did peek at my phone when my husband was in the shower but that was only once... or twice.) I recharged my life for a few days. It felt strange at first but I did it. The unplug and recharge feeling was so good I determined to make it a part of my life in 2015.
In a world where everyone is only a heartbeat away from a technology connection, we need to understand that it is in our power to "disconnect" and live in the moment. No one, save the most self-centered person will think any the less of you for unplugging to recharge your life. You can empower yourself to unplug and recharge by taking the following simple actions.
Turn off your cell!
Yes! Do it! If you're out to dinner, in a theatre, at a movie, on vacation (remember? vacation time is sacrosanct), live in the real moment and enjoy what's going on. You'll be refreshed, relaxed and happier.
Set a time limit for tech use use.
I get emails and texts at 3 a.m. and I have people asking me why I didn't respond! Seriously? Has no one ever heard of sleep? Yes, technology is a wonderful tool but, remember: There are only 24 hours in a day! It also helps to remember to assess your tech time and use it wisely; so much time for work, so much time for socializing and then walk away from it. Please.
What would you like to do that has nothing to do with computers, cell phones, or any other tech devices? What simple thing gives you pleasure? Music, walks, dancing, the arts? You may rediscover things that you have put on hold until "someday." Make your "someday" now.
Read a book, a "real" one.
I love my Kindle too, but the feel of an actual book in my hand coupled with turning the paper pages gives me a comfortable, happy feeling. It's the same as being with a friend in person and not on Skype -- a personal, touchable pleasure.
Watch a child who hasn't yet been introduced to DS games, iPhones, tablets, or any other handheld entertainment. They daydream and entertain themselves with unbridled imagination.
Finally, with pen and paper, write a short letter to someone updating them on your life. Email and texting may be faster and give instant gratification, but a hand-written missive is something to keep and treasure. Step away from techno-overload, unplug, recharge and discover life. Your life.
Now if you'll excuse me I have to answer a few texts, send some emails, Skype my friend Elle in Australia, and finish watching a missed episode of The Affair on my Kindle. Don't worry, I have it all in hand. I'm determined to unplug by 3 a.m.!
Copyright 2015 Kristen Houghton
Read Kristen's award-winning new thriller For I Have Sinned (A Cate Harlow Private Investigation), available now.