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The Struggle to Unplug

It might be kind of ironic that one of the first few posts in Blog 2.0 is about disconnecting from The Matrix, a.k.a. the interwebs. But as many, if not most of us know, we’re almost always plugged in. 

From tv commercials screaming for your attention (but not for long!), to emails dinging as they pop into our inboxes, to other strange noises from retweets, blog comments, and text messages… sometimes to stop the insanity, it’s time to unplug.

This past weekend some friends and I decided we were well overdue for some one-on-one time with Mama Nature. Happy as we are to have social lives to balance our work lives, there are only so many restaurants, lounges, and networking events one can go to, before being exhausted, if not buh-roke. 

So thanks to the efforts of one friend in particular (hat-tip D), we’d booked a roundtrip ticket to a fantastic find in the mountains of the nearby VA, where a cabin and a whole lot of ‘nuthin' awaited us. 

Oh the joy! A cabin in the woods (with a hot tub no less), surrounded by trees, birds, the river, and QUIET. Ah, bliss. 


But not for long. Having been sooo excited to put away the cell phone, the laptop, and any form of telecommunication, guess who was starting to worry aloud when she couldn’t find a wi-fi connection in the cabin?

Yeah me, that’s who. Arriving on a Friday, I read up on the news, checked my email, facebooked with friends, tweeted to the world, and topped it all off by checking in on foursquare. (I am now Mayor of that cabin, thank you very much.) 

Meanwhile, my friends were checking out hiking trails, snuggling into comfy clothes, and warming up in front of the fireplace.

Clearly, I have a problem.

Recognizing addiction when I saw twittered it, I made a conscious decision to put away my tech stuff for the rest of the weekend. No more emails, blogs, news or tweets. Emergency phone calls were all the ‘incoming’ I was allowed. 

The first day, was not so easy. We all unwound, and didn’t touch the tv remote or our phones the entire evening (except we did play a difficult game of ‘Scene it?’ which required some use of technological equipment - read: dvd player), and I’m pretty sure one of my friends was playing games on her iPhone. I know I was definitely staring at my phone from across the room.

In the morning however, my usual ‘coffee with iGoogle’ was replaced by ‘coffee with friends,’ under a blanket on the covered porch overlooking the woods. By mid-afternoon, while the others napped, I finally dug into the library book that was nearly overdue, while the same iPhone fiend discovered an appreciation for The New Yorker. In the evening, we paid homage to our cavewomen ancestors by building a fire and making smores, and continued doing cabin duty by coming back in to toast our warm apple ciders in front of the fireplace and play boardgames all night long.

By day three, as three of us sat under blankets tightly gripping our morning coffee in the frigid mountain air, we sat quietly for a bit, listening to nature and watching its preparations for winter. Sad to see the weekend go by so quickly, we gathered our stuff to get ready to head back to DC. As we covered up the hot tub, put out the fire in the fireplace, and swept up the remnants of a weekend in the woods, our phones and laptops, sat untouched.

It was nice to be unplugged for a while and it’s something I think I’m going to have to do on a regular basis. Obviously, as soon as the phone was back in my clutches, I thought I would be ready to pop open the standard apps and catch up with the constant and instant updating world. Instead I decided to ease back into it - and not use technology, social media, new media or anything of that sort, until I got home in the evening. At which point I would blog about this experience.

Was it irony, or fate then, to find that Tumblr was down all evening long?