We unplugged for 24 hours and this is what happened
What does it truly mean to completely go offline? To be rid of all devices that keep us connected to the rest of the world? While on holiday, we decided to unplug for 24 hours. Stashing our phones, laptops, ipads, and even our digital watches in our hotel safe, we ventured off on our own, device-free for 24 hours, and this is what happened.
1. I experienced phantom phonexiety.
After finding a spot at the Hilton Waikoloa lagoon and getting settled, Cricket and Foggy immediately went to play in the water. Left alone, I experienced my first phantom phone moment. Watching my family, I felt the compulsion to grab my device for an Instagram-worthy share. Oops, no phone there. With nothing to do, I lay back on the chair. I thought about my attachment to my phone, and how the familiarity of pressing the home button, and swiping across the screen to check for notifications can trigger feelings of urgency and anxiety. I would experience similar phantom phone moments throughout the day. Was there a pressing work email? I started to worry. Nobody knew except my husband that I had gone offline. But it was Sunday, and the following day was a holiday. I should be okay for now, I thought. So I let it go. Then, I looked up.
Look up. View from my beach chair.
2. I was able to watch things happen, in real time.
I lead a very busy, often demanding work schedule. I oversee all the policy and advocacy work for my organization, which means I’m constantly on my gadgets all the time, talking, typing, and task-delegating (see the alliteration there?). I always say that I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love that I can get so much sh*t done with just one device but I also hate how much I rely on my devices. My phone is practically an extension of my arm.
But because I had no phone to cue music, watch people's social stories, check emails, or whatever it is we mindlessly do, I ended up looking up. I watched the palm leaves swaying, admired the family of four next to us playing in the sand, and listened to the crash of waves behind us. I had uninterrupted time watching my toddler refill his red watering can toy and dump out water over his head, again and again. Goodness. I'm not a bad mom, but how much of these scenes do I miss everyday because I'm constantly looking down, eyes glued to a screen?
3. I witnessed a beautiful sunset with my favorite people.
After playing in the water, my husband and son retreated back to our room for a quick nap. I had a full hour to myself, sunbathing and reading. Ahh.. so liberating. But it didn't take long before I started to miss my family. I wanted to watch the sunset from our hotel balcony that afternoon, with some wine and cheese. We didn't have any, which meant I had to go visit the store. I started to call my husband and see if he needed anything. Crap, no phone. So I trekked back to the room and asked him in person. Oh wow, who does this anymore??
Twenty minutes later, I am back. Wine-cheese shopping mission complete. The toddler is awake and the three of us settle to watch the sunset. My little bear actually sat through the whole thing munching on his cheese and giving us toothy grins in between. Bathed in soft golden light, I snap this photo (with a camera, of course!). Slowly, the sun dipped lower and lower, until every last bit of orange was eaten up by the horizon.
What a beautiful thing to experience with my favorite people. Would I give up all my devices again for this? Yes definitely, without hesitation. But not completely. For now, 24 hours again would do.
Watched the sunset with this hunk and his chunk of cheese.
What going offline for 24 hours looks like:
- Lots of time to people watch, absorbing sooo many details (uhh.. why is that old man snorkeling in 2-feet of water?)
- Relying on the sun's position and my hunger cues to determine how many hours have gone by.
- Reading more than 50 book pages in ONE sitting. Mommas know this is almost impossible with a toddler.
- MORE people watching and eavesdropping (On the hotel tram, a hotel guest attempts to small talk with a married couple: Guest: We went on this fantastic hike! and saw lava! I've got it all on video! Wife: Wow that is amaziing! Wife looks at husband, who looked so bored and above this conversation. Wife keeps looking. Wife's husband to guest: Good for you. Wife: ...)
- Watching a beautiful sunset and getting a few seconds worth of the sunset phenomenon known as the green flash. Super cool.
- Getting to choose a restaurant and meal sans any online reviews and digging into a beautiful dish without the snapping a photo first!
- Finally, lots of uninterrupted quality play time with my family. What else could be more important?
Here's to living a well-lived life,
T, La Chica Life