Time to unplug your devices and plug into the real world on National Day of UnpluggingAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
When you look around in social settings today, what do you see? In a lot of situations, you'll find that people are positively glued to their phones. Out with their friends, out to dinner with their family, at the park, at weddings and funerals, you can see at least one or two people who are glued to their phones. For a lot of people (myself uncluded) smartphones are our main source of entertainment and communication. It can be hard to leave it behind and forget about what could be going on inside that tiny computer, but sometimes you might find that it's necessary to unplug yourself from that virtual world and remember the things that are actually going on around you.
National Day of Unplugging probably doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun from the get-go because many of us are self-diagnosed with with gottaknowosis, and might even be something you consider impossible. It's true that smartphones can be more than just communication devices to arrange meet-ups for drinks on Friday night and check in on old highschool and college friends through social networking. For a lot of people, smartphones mean work and being able to stay connected to those who you can't actually connect to in person: significant others of deployed soldiers, family in different countries, long distance relationships and more.
However, even despite the communication that we need to be on the lookout for, there is probably a lot more we are using our smartphones for throughout the day. You know, the things that don't really matter. Checking Facebook, Twitter, forums, online shopping, or still trying to beat your last high score in Flappy Bird (or its new dopplegangers, which have arrived in hordes at this point). That's a lot of little fluff that, if checked often enough, can really cut a lot of free time out of your day.
I've had a lot of issues with separating myself from my smartphone before. It is how I stay connected to some important people in my life who I can't be near all the time, but I also realize I sometimes do have a problem paying attention to what really matters. Namely, my son's wants and needs would often come second to my smartphone obsession.
When I started working here at PhoneDog, one of my first articles made me realize that I really do spend way too much time paying attenion to my phone and not paying enough attention to where my attention would be better paid to. I think of it like this: Where is this going to pay off more in the end? Are those ten or twenty mintues I just spent on Facebook going to help me or my child in the long run? No, and those Facebook updates will be there later for me to check when I have some free time to myself. Even though I've come to this realization and my habits of using my smartphone have increasingly become less and less important, perhaps it's time once again to re-evaluate just how much time I spend on my phone. More time playing and interacting with my son is something that can benefit everyone.
It's understandable if you can't completely unplug because, as I mentioned before, there are a lot of important things that smartphones, tablets and computers do for us - things that we need to get things done through the day. Even I won't be able to completely unplug as I have a couple of things here at PhoneDog I will need to post (already written, though!) But the key word here is need - everything else can be spared, just for one day at least. That's what the National Day of Unplugging is all about. For just one day, you can pledge to cut out the fluffy stuff you don't need from a typical day of smartphone usage and instead apply that extra fluff time to doing something outside or with your friends and family uninterrupted by the need to check your electronics every few moments.
You might even be surprised to see just how much extra free time you have on your hands! Don't worry about posting what you're doing to your favorite social networks, there's plenty of time to do that tomorrow. What this is supposed to do is give you some time to unwind and forget the stresses of carrying your entire life around with you 24/7. And who knows? Maybe after just one day of "unplugging" you too will find that there's been a lot of time spent on things that aren't that important to your life.
Readers, do you plan on joining National Day of Unplugging? If so, you can join the others who have pledged to unplug at this official website for the event. It officially goes from sundown to sundown starting tonight, March 7, until tomorrow, March 8. Let us know what you'll be doing in the comments below! Then shut off your electronics. Unless you're not going to do it, then you don't have to... obviously.