Have you ever abstained from being online – social media, internet, email even? For a day? For a week? For longer?
I did. For a couple months! It wasn’t intentional. It just happened. I went on vacation with family in July. My sister-in-law refrains from posting things to Facebook while away so as not to bring attention to her being out of town. I didn’t want to implicate her in any of my postings, so I unplugged as well. It was nice. Really nice. And then vacation was over and I accidentally stayed unplugged.
I must clarify though – I am using the term unplugged loosely. I wouldn’t say I was 100% unplugged. I still used the internet to look up things. I emailed. I used FaceTime to talk to my husband while he was touring. And I even looked at Facebook from time to time. But it was by no means an everyday occurrence, let alone a several times a day occurrence!
Part of the reasoning for unplugging was life – we were selling our house, building a new house, moving, etc. I was just busy. And so my online hiatus stretched out well past the week-long vacation in July. It was amazing how much time I got back! Time that was so very much needed.
But a bigger part of the reasoning was mood – I just feel plain happier and freer not being tied to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or news or anything online for that matter. The longer I stayed (mostly) away from social media, the more I realized I depended on it to “check out” of my life. Multiple times a day! (Do you realize how much time the average American spends on the computer or their phone just surfing?!?) I became more present with myself, my kids, my husband, my friends. I stopped comparing myself to others as you often do when you’re mindlessly perusing Facebook or Twitter. I allowed myself to be confident in who I am, what I’m doing and how I’m parenting by not relying on getting “validation” in the form of likes, comments, mentions, retweets, shares. I stopped judging or getting caught up in the negativity that often consumes my news feeds. I stayed positive about family and friends and life. I refocused all that lost energy being wasted on spending time with others and giving of myself. I learned to sew. I re-discovered how beautiful life is when experienced in the flesh.
In a world where everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones’. Where we’re all trying to “one up” each other. Where we feel the pressure to be better than the person next to us. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and just enjoy what YOU are doing? Wouldn’t it be nice to get hours back in the day to actually DO something?
This is a much broader post. Not necessarily one geared towards road widows. But I think it’s relevant nonetheless. How many of us kill time online while our road warriors are gone? How many of us get frustrated or angry at the things we see posted either by our spouses or by friends? How many of us compare our lives to those of others based on what’s posted online? Even though it’s only a small representation of the full picture.
Being unplugged for so long has given me a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of self. I’m (slowly) re-entering the online world with the promise to myself that I will not be consumed by it again. This has been an amazing, albeit accidental, journey. I felt compelled to share it with you road widows so that you might be inspired to do the same someday.