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Unplug. Feel better.


The hypocrisy of this post is not lost on me. I am not anti-tech. I daresay I would no longer survive without my GPS; having a cell phone has given me a sense of confidence and security that I can’t imagine letting go of- mostly for emergencies. And as much as I was a fan of the Brookstones in the mall, I find myself gravitating away from technology. Perhaps my values have changed, but there is no ‘good feeling’ when I put down my phone or close my laptop after scrolling. That is not the case when I put down my book or finish a stroll outside. We just need to plug into the right outlets. 

It occurred to me as I spent time reading and reflecting in the bath, that my life and my outlook on life has changed dramatically over the past few years. This is probably due to a number of reasons: quitting my teaching job and starting my herbal practice, finding a new community, transitioning from mother to crone, the pandemic shifting life in general… But lately I feel a strong need to detach myself more and more from technology. To UNPLUG. 

 For the record, when I say ‘technology’ I’m mostly referring to things on screens- computers, phones, etc. 

Sadly, I need to be on screens to conduct business, but I have made some serious limitations for myself, which I now realize wasn’t as much of a conscious choice as it was a slow evolution of avoidance. If it made me feel yucky, I avoided. 

It began with smart watches. From the beginning, I found them revolting. Yes, that’s a strong word, and I can’t entirely understand why I find them so gross, but there it is. I think part of it was the concept of being held chained to another device which is stuck on my body, all the time. Wow. Yeah. And, for it to tap into my vitals, and know the fabric of my very being!? No thanks. It freaked me out, honestly. As I worked to consciously be on my phone less and saw people more addicted - and literally attached to this thing-  I knew it wasn’t for me. 

This is not a judgemental post. Many of my friends have smart watches, and I know there are times when they might be necessary. 

Aside from smart watches, I also found that I felt better when I took a break from the news. This began during times when political tensions were particularly high. I tend to be a passionate person and can easily get riled up. I decided to take a break from the news (all news) and realized 1) I don’t fit into any political party 2) I felt a lot less angry and a lot less anxiety. Now, I don’t like that I have to do this. Part of me feels like I’m just burying my head in the sand, or that I’m not a good citizen by avoiding what is going on in the world. Those might be true, and at another point in life maybe I’ll find the desire to go back in and fight the good fight, or whatever. I still hear bits and pieces of what is going on. I'll turn on the news once a week or so, and when I do it usually reminds me how grateful I am to be disconnected. 

Social media is a little trickier. 

I pick and choose when I engage and with what platform. The only social media I have is Facebook (because I’m old) and Instagram (to capture memories). I have both personal accounts and business accounts for each. I’m pretty happy with what shows up on my feed, which is mostly humorous stuff, herb stuff, and groups I belong to. No news, no quasi-friend stuff for voyeurism, just stuff to make me feel good. Learning and laughing. My scrolling is typically work-related, looking for opportunities to let others know what I do as an herbalist to bring business. But if I could move away from social media, I would. Hell- if I could live off the grid I would. Unfortunately it is not a value my family shares with me. 

Authenticity. That’s what I look for these days, within myself and others. And honestly, that’s a very hard thing to come by. 

So here’s what happened when I unplugged from the news, and social media, and cable, and the radio. 

I am able to choose and become the person I want to be. 

Not being as influenced by outside pressures of how to look, act, speak, and think allows me to be genuine. Clean slate. It’s very refreshing. Tapping into myself also brought about a few other cool perks:

  • More time for reading

  • More creativity

  • Practicing mindfulness and reciprocity

  • Finding value and expressing gratitude in small, everyday things

  • Better relationships

  • Deepening spiritual practices

  • New memories I totally forgot about have been popping up

Overall, I’m becoming a better version of myself. 

To be fair, there are some times I wish I was more present in this modern life. When I need to go somewhere ‘nice’ or ‘fancy’ I have no idea what to wear. I would like to know what is cool sometimes because I might actually like it. If I’m engaging in conversation with ‘normal’ people, sometimes I don’t know who or what they are referring to. Sometimes a movie comes out that I had no idea about, and it would have been fun to see it in the theater. I should be more aware of the good and bad things going on in the world so that I can spend time in thanksgiving, or in prayer. So yeah, there are some things I miss. However what I’m gaining and how I’m growing as a person has been way more beneficial for me. 

Am I saying that you should cut off all tech ties? That my way is the right way? Absolutely not. But I am saying that it’s worth considering the positive effects of unplugging. Escapism is at your fingertips constantly. But what is there to escape from? You have amazing, beautiful gifts outside your door. Nature is freaking awesome. And it heals. People are pretty cool, too, if you find the right ones. My advice is to spend more time outside or in community and less time engaging with your device. 

Maybe you take baby steps. Maybe you trade some scrolling time for some sit outside and do nothing time. I sure hope you give it a try. I’m amazed at how much better I feel living life this way. It’s not possible for everyone, but everyone can unplug a little more from the things of superficial value, and instead choose to plug into the Earth and each other. Tap into REAL life.

Unplug. Feel better.

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Mar 19
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Right on on all your points.I stopped rigorously paying attention to the news probably 15 years ago and don't feel as if I'm missing out. The important things happen whether I know about them or not.

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