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Unplug to Connect

I don’t know about where you are, but here, in this part of the world, it’s a common scene to look at the surroundings and see people looking down to their phones. It’s a sad view. And in this part of the world, it’s mostly because people are just scrolling on various types of media on their phones.

And by people, I’m including myself.

Which is why, in the last 6 years, I’ve made the choice to give up social media for every lent season (with the exception of last year). So that is roughly 40 days of no facebook, no instagram, no twitter, no other online platform that engages in social connection. Each time. I think I’ve done it bout 5 times.

Why? Cause I have some level of attachment to it. Whether it’s an attachment of getting stories so that I’m not missing anything. Or an attachment of sharing about my life. Or an attachment of using it as a mind-numbing time-filler.

And the times I’ve given them up are absolutely rejuvenating. Not to mention, cutting off an attachment always feels extremely liberating.

In the last 2 years, I’ve also started attending silent retreats. These are the kinds where we are completely cut off from the world. No watching anything, no listening to anything, no reading, no writing, and obviously no communication with any devices or to any human beings around.

The first time I did it, it was a 5-day retreat with about 3.5 days of silence. The second time was a 10-day retreat with 9 days of silence.

These retreats have always been magical. I absolutely enjoy the silence.

Being unplugged is the greatest detox one can have. It’s like we’re removing all sorts of pollutions from our system.

And more than anything else, it’s a great time to connect with oneself. And amazing realizations happen when one connects with oneself.

Coming back to the everyday, I’m generally pretty alright when it comes to being glued to the phone. I generally choose to put my phone down and be away from it for a period of time. I then spend the time meeting people, or reading a book, or making art, or enjoying art, or cooking, or walking outside. There are really tons of things you can do when you’re away from the phone. There are even days when I really consider living without my cell phone.

But there are those times when I find myself getting very attached to social media and other communication apps. I would be aware that I’m constantly opening them even when there are no updates. And when I put down my phone, I just want to pick them up again. Generally, these are times when I didn’t want to face myself and I’m running away from my own problems.

When I get to this realization, I normally choose to turn the phone off and not touch it and any social media plus chat apps (like whatsapp) for about 6-10 hours (waking time. Not sleeping time. We are already unplugging during sleeping time).

And then I spend the time coming back to myself and being mindful of the present. And I let the voices come, I let the anxiety come up and face whatever it is I have to face. And then I let it go and release it and find that balance again.

I realize that so far, I’ve been doing this at least once a month. I have my phone-fasting day every now and then. And normally it’s never scheduled. It gets decided then and there, sometimes out of nowhere :).

Remember, we used to live without all of these. No cell phones, no medias. And it was quite fun, wasn’t it? And we were more connected to each other. Yes, we had less people we were connected to. But we had deeper connection with the ones we do.

We were also more connected to our own selves.

So once in a while, I unplug so I can connect. So I can clear out whatever confusion I had and therefore allowing good things to come in. Good things like clarity.

I also unplug so I can connect with others. I make it a point in my relationships to put down the phones during time together. Especially meal times.

But I have to admit, with some group of friends, I still get sucked by bright light of the phone. I’m working on it and I’m writing this as a form of accountability, so you can remind me if I do that when I hang out with you.

Anyway, I’m writing about unplugging as a simple reminder. So we remember to do it. And that we may remind others to do it as well.

I believe it’s the little things that change the world. Want to make a difference in the world? Want more peace and less hatred in this world? Let’s start by connecting with ourselves and others. Cause if we see ourselves as good and peace, and if we see others as our brothers who are also good and peace, we would not even think about hurting others.

Let’s spread the love and add more joy to this world :).

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