I didn’t turn on my computer this weekend. I mean, I checked my phone here and there, but I didn’t do it that much. I can hear the groans already. Yes, we know: Turn off your tech for a bit. You’ll feel better. The thing is, that’s pretty vague. “You’ll be able to look people in the eyes.” “You’ll remember the simple pleasure of a bird chirping in the trees.”
Advice like this always annoyed me, mostly because I love my tech. I love my phone. I love the Internet, despite its flaws. I’ve made friends there, and I connect with my family and with former classmates. (Yes, I’m one of those rare people who really liked the people in my high school.) I don’t think we should go back to the age before we had a magical box in our hands that could do anything. But…
With the world the way it is (everyone has said that throughout history, but I think we can claim that it really is worse than usual), the news obsession has gotten worse. I used to check my phone a few times a day and my ears perk up like a dog’s when I hear the email or text noise. But my face wasn’t in the thing 24/7. I didn’t wake up and immediately check my phone to find out what horrible thing someone in government did before 8 a.m. Now I’m afraid to look at my phone before I go to bed, and I’m so obsessed with news that I have 17 tabs open on my computer. (Seriously, I just counted.)
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So, this weekend: I had worked a crazy week and didn’t stop this weekend, but I wasn’t writing. I just sort of accidentally didn’t open the computer. I didn’t sit at my desk. Once I realized it, I paid attention to what was happening. Don’t laugh, but my heart rate slowed. (I know this because of the tech on my wrist, of course.) My average pulse went from 73 to 66. Not looking at the news clearly lowered my stress level. I realized that, as I was speaking to someone, there were moments every few minutes where I expected to look at my phone. I actually had to think about maintaining eye contact.
After the first little while, it was relaxing to be off that weird mental schedule. My shoulders dropped. I know this sounds strange, but I realized that, when I was sitting on the couch, I let my head drop back instead of leaning slightly forward, as though news were on the way. By Sunday night, I realized that I didn’t know where my phone was. (It was under the cat’s butt, in case you were wondering. I guess it was warm?) I realized I hadn’t checked it in hours. I realized that I didn’t care.
Now, I’m not saying we should all completely unplug. I wouldn’t want to. During the week, I can’t, and that's OK. I’m just saying that an occasional break is a good thing. Watch your body and see what it does. Maybe we can integrate that into the days where we do have to be Internet-attached? Turn it off during lunch? At 10 p.m.? Maybe because of this, I’ll make sure my head hits the back of the couch. Just give it a try. It couldn’t hurt.