Last Thursday I packed a bag and went to my uncle’s house in Woodland Hills (a nice neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley – it’s next to Calabasas, where the Kardashians live) to dog- and house-sit for the weekend while he, his partner Wendy and her family went on a cruise.
Because it was such an ideal getaway (a mini-vacation that didn’t require me actually leaving the house, aka a ‘staycation’) I decided to challenge myself to not open my iPad, and thus not use the internet, the entire weekend, which I successfully did.
When I was not walking nor feeding the dogs I found I had a lot of free time on my hands. I read (devoured, really) the last two books of the Hunger Games trilogy; cooked and ate some really great (and healthy!) meals; sat out in the sun and, in general, reflected on life and savored the distraction-free environment.
I felt really calm and relaxed during my ‘unplugged’ time – I was definitely able to fully immerse myself and give 100% of my focus to whatever activity I was doing at the time. I loved not feeling like I had to constantly check for any new emails, updates or notifications, though I will admit that there were many occasions in which I felt so tempted to “catch up” on things I was “missing” from Pinterest, Tumblr and other sites. (Eventually I felt bored with all my free time, which also made me want to see what was happening online.)
I realized just how much time I spend online – it must be at least four or five hours each day – and, subsequently, how much time I waste procrastinating on things I view as important: keeping up an online presence on various social media outlets. I could be a lot more productive if I had better time management or self-control when it comes to iPad related tasks…
On a larger scale I was able to identify how my online/social media presence, like everyone else’s, is basically just a virtual life… It’s like a computer or video game in which you’ve invested a lot of time: you know it doesn’t amount to much in “the real world,” but you don’t want to see all that time and effort go to waste.
Usually people turn to the internet/social media for a distraction; I’ve found that everything I want to distract myself from (depressing news, activism drama, etc.) is primarily online, so I find other ways to distract myself when, really, I could make it a lot easier by not being online.
While I feel that I’ve developed a pretty decent online presence, I also see that maintaining it 24/7 can be draining and can even play a hand in self-induced burnout, anxiety, etc. It’s like if I was running a website and generating content for no reason: it’s ineffective and unbeneficial, so why would I keep doing it?
Now that I’m back home, I’ve decided to be more intentional about my internet usage and time spent on various social media… I’m doing the mass-unsubscribe thing again so as to rid my inbox of all the newsletters and updates I don’t read, and even wrote this blog post out before I typed it in order to further limit my time on my iPad.
It feels silly to have to remind myself to unplug every so often, but now that I’ve done it I feel like I’m ready to start putting all that time and energy toward more productive uses…