As someone who runs their own business, it is difficult to disconnect from the Web. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to attract new business, create new connections or gain insight into new and interesting trends.
We – the always-connected – scour our inboxes on a regular basis, continually check social media accounts and consume lots of content. We cross our fingers that vacation destinations have good Wi-Fi or there’s a nearby cafe with a connection. We worry about what happens or doesn’t happen when we’re not online.
Being disconnected is unimaginable because being connected is how we operate. But being disconnected is a good thing, even if we don’t think so. Getting off the grid provides time and opportunity to re-connect with real things – people, books, hobbies, food, walking, nature, etc.
I am reminded of the joys of disconnecting every year when I visit Camp Wanakita, which is located about three hours of Toronto. The camp’s Wi-Fi network is locked, while the cellular connection, if you’re lucky, only has one bar.
For the always-connected, it’s digital hell. You could drive 10 minutes into Haliburton to hit a cafe but it means leaving your family and vacation, which is cheating. So, you tough it out. Instead of connecting, you play broomball, walk your dog or build a campfire.
With no connection to the Internet, smartphones are left in pockets or your cabin. Instead, you talk to people. You ask them questions, learn their stories and discover common interests. You eat meals with other families. You play games with new people. You forget about not being online because you’re focused on non-digital activities.
It’s not to suggest you forget about the Web, email and what’s happening in the world. But I think you accept that it’s okay to take a digital break. It’s alright to let the number of unread emails climb in your inbox. And that not checking your social media accounts several times a day is perfectly fine.
Then, the disconnected vacation is over. The digital world comes roaring back to life. But you have enjoyed a brief respite and time to reboot.
Truth be told, it is challenging, if not impossible, to completely disconnect. Unless you’re traveling to remote locations, the Web is a constant and seductive animal. It constantly whispers to us. It wears down our digital defenses. It makes us do things – e.g. check email on vacation – that we desperately want to avoid.
For people who aren’t super-disciplined, have a screw it mentality or retired, it is increasingly “normal” to be connected. It is not something we change or fight because it is a part of modern living.
So, let’s be realistic about getting off the grid. It’s a fantasy. Instead, let’s focus on taking a mini-break once in awhile. Rather than engaging on social media, let’s engage with people around a cup of tea or playing euker. Rather than check e-mail, let’s check in with new friends and activities that take us away from the digital maelstrom.
Do you have the discipline to turn off the Web? If so, what are your tricks?
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