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Tech Break!

I'm late with my post again. I didn't get it done last weekend, and I'm only able to do it today because I'm at home with a sick little one. Don't worry, he'll be fine. It's nothing serious.

One of the main reasons this post is so late is the little technology break I took over the weekend. You see, I had the opportunity to attend a weekend event that was NOT a tech conference. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a quiet Men's retreat at a campground nearby. The attendees were not allowed cell phones... or watches.

I have to say, I was a bit apprehensive about putting the technology away, but also somehow, strangely looking forward to a few days without my phone. My watch, however, I didn't want to give up. I knew ahead of time that I would not be able to take them with me. In fact, Wednesday night, my wife told me that was one of her biggest worries about the event. She knows me so well.

I packed my bag on Wednesday, and after work on Thursday, I turned off my phone and watch and put them in my closet. My ride arrived promptly at 5, and we were off. I have no idea about the timetable for the rest of the weekend.

I continually looked at my wrist for the first day and a half. It didn't help that we were indoors for much of the weekend, and couldn't use the sky as a guide. I knew roughly where we were in the day by the meals we were eating, but beyond that no idea. I have this habit of taking my cell phone out of my pocket every time I sit down. It was Saturday evening before I finally stopped putting my hand in my pocket before every time I sat, but I did get over it. Instead of reading posts online before bed, I read an actual book... printed on real paper. There was something nostalgic, but natural feeling about it. I woke each morning and read a handwritten letter from my wife. Not an email. Not a text message. A letter. In her handwriting. On paper. Written in blue ink. That piece of notebook paper is one of my favorite things in the world today.

Now that I have returned from the experience, wearing my watch feels unnatural. It is in my peripheral vision while I type this. It is a distraction. I almost resent having to wear it to keep things on schedule. My phone is much less important to me. Monday at work, I had laid my phone on my desk, and didn't think to grab it before heading to a meeting. I didn't realize that I had forgotten it on my desk until I got back to my desk and saw it sitting there.

We were told the electronics ban was to allow everyone to be more "present" and "in the moment" for the weekend. I didn't know if I wanted to buy that. Having done a weekend without tech I can say it is definitely a good idea to put the phone down. Take the watch off. Do it for the weekends. Yes, there will still be time bound commitments. Use your alarm clock to remind you. Hang an analog clock on the wall to help. Take the idea further, and have the whole family do it. You can leave your phone on so someone can call in case of emergency, but don't look at it every five minutes. Don't answer texts. Don't check social media. Only take it out if it actually rings... you know... as in when somebody calls to talk to you.

Wrapping it up, I think I'm going to plan a regular tech detox for myself, and definitely make strides toward larger tech breaks for the whole family (like summer vacations.) It is good for the soul. Tech addiction is a real thing. Spend a couple days without it, and you'll notice that you will be more "present" and "in the moment" with whatever you are doing and whomever you are with.

And remember, take the time every day to make the world a better place.

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/No_smartphones.png


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