In recent months, I have come to discover that I'm really not that important and I'm okay with that.
For the first time in nearly ten years I am unplugged, cell phoneless. I have lost the ablity to IM, Mobile Tweet and network socially on the fly. I can now have full conversations with actual live people without being interrupted by the constant buzz or chirp of an incoming text. I can get through a meal, movie or trip to the bathroom without the nagging ringtone of someone calling just to ask "what's up?" and best of all I can actually, truly be alone if I want to.
The decision to not renew my cell contract was made rather flippantly. Since going small town I hardly ever used it and felt like it was no big deal to let that unnecessary monthly expense go... that's what I thought until I didn't have it anymore. The first weekend I went into the city without having my phone I felt naked and very hick. I mean really, everyone has a cell phone, right?
I remember walking through the mall, watching people chat and tweet and text and I felt left out. I had phone envy. As I sat on a bench outside a store, waiting for Mr. Awesome and the kids to find me (okay, I might have been hiding from them) I watched people trip over and ignore each other, nearly walk into poles and garbage cans and lose track of where they were because they were focused on their phones. No one actually looked at each other, and it was clear that very few people were present in the moment, they were distracted by whatever mail, text or status update was streaming at them via their phone.
It was fascinating to watch, especially when I realised that this was the first time in a long time that I people watched. When I had my phone I was one of 'those people' who was constantly updating and tweeting. I was the one who was rarely fully engaged in where I was and who I was with. I was a Berry-a-holic, that was my mobile device of choice.
In that moment in the mall, and a thousand times since, I felt liberated. I was techno-free. I was a person again! Seriously, other than missing texting with a pal of mine, I haven't felt deprived or disconnected. In fact, I have felt more connected with the people I am with, more engaged in the moments I am living. All those emails and instant messages I was obsessing over were never realy that important. There was not one message I can ever remember receiving that could not, and often should not, have waited until I checked my emails at home or voice messages on my land line. It was all just noise that added to the chaos and exhaustion that had become my life. For me, for where I am in life right now, being unplugged was the greatest gift I could have ever given myself.
I know unplugging isn't possile for eveyone but just try switching off your data for a day, leaving your phone in the car while you have a meal or go to a movie or putting it on silent (and vibrate is NOT the same as silent) while you're out with friends. Allow yourself to disconnect long enoug to connect with the life that's right in front of you again.
Progress might have been all right once, but it's gone on too long. ~Ogden Nash