This is the second post about disconnecting. The first post focused on four fears of disconnecting. I have encouraged us to think about “Disconnecting” as an intentional time of setting certain electronic conveniences aside for a period of time to be fully engaged and present where one is located. We enjoy the technology of our phones, tablets, cars, and the internet on a regular basis (and rightly so!). Technology, in all of its forms, should be enjoyed. However, we can grow so accustomed and dependent upon various forms of technology that we can grow fearful when we set it aside, especially digital ones. I’m not calling for us to “break up” with technology. I’m asking us to consider “taking a break” from our relationship with technology.
This summer, my wife and I took a summer vacation to Maine. Before we left, I decided that I was not going to check my work e-mails, log into my social media accounts, or instantly open my phone with each text I received. I want to share with you two lessons that I learned from disconnecting this summer.
1. I gained perspective on my priorities.
I can so easily check e-mail, social media, and watch Netflix without giving much thought or attention to “why” I am doing them. Disconnecting allowed me the opportunity to ask myself the question, “Why do I open up my phone or watch Netflix as an almost default action?” Perhaps there is something I am avoiding or missing by engaging in those activities. By disconnecting, I was afforded the opportunity to listen a little longer and more intently to my wife. By disconnecting, I was afforded the opportunity to notice how I could serve others sacrificially in ways that I might miss otherwise. I could see the hints of orange and red in the sunsets with my eyes and not through a lens or filter. Disconnecting is focused on being fully engaged and present where one is located. When I disconnected, I was reminded there are greater priorities in my life than the text, pics, e-mails, or the work available through them. Disconnecting allows us to digitally declare that work is a good thing but not an ultimate thing. Disconnecting allows us to digitally declare that posting pictures is good but the people in them are more important. Disconnecting is a digital declaration that there are greater priorities than work or social media.
2. I learned to enjoy my present location and people.
By disconnecting, I was afforded the opportunity to appreciate the people and places surrounding me. I sat down at a Bed and Breakfast with the expressed purpose of smelling the freshly brewed coffee, feeling the warmth of the oven opening its door to reveal its sweet delights, and tasting the savory but sweet treats of our breakfast. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss out on the goodness of that moment. Over breakfast, my wife and I dreamed about the future in a way that we wouldn’t by checking Facebook, Instagram, or e-mail in a more consistent manner on our phones. We noticed the people around us and talked to them. We went hiking in a national park, I sat down on the rocks and benches (because I am getting old but also) to appreciate and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. My phone sat in my pocket with e-mails ready to be opened, social media access available, but I needed to take a break because I forgot to enjoy where I was and who I was with. I had to remember that my present location was where God had placed me not the digital space and places I could be.
Since returning from Maine this summer, I have realized the beauty of taking intentional time away from my technology. Not just the beauty of the act of disconnecting, but also the beauty around me that I was missing as I starred at a screen.