Constant communication was soul-sucking. So I unplugged

Jesse Noseworthy

News Editor

 

You’re likely reading this on a computer or a smartphone, right?

Anyone can access any social media website within a moment’s notice. And anyone in the world can likely reach you at this moment in time.

Being constantly connected is almost an obsession for some people. But it doesn’t always feel that way for me; I need balance.

There was once a time when I couldn’t put my phone down. It’d be at my hip and I’d respond to any communication at a moment’s notice. It was not an enriching experience though. I felt bogged down. It was soul-sucking.

It came to a point when I decided to delete all of my social media accounts, started speaking to people over the phone instead of texting and began to leave my phone at home.

I started to become more aware of my surroundings, conversations became enlightening and I began to enjoy being disconnected.

When we start to live vicariously through electronics, we begin to lose track of what’s right in front of us.

“The Fear of Missing Out,” otherwise called “FOMO,” has consumed our society and driven us to desire instant gratification. It has dug itself deep into our roots and allowed us to have a wealth of information at our fingertips. This may be good for some, but after a while it can become too much. We start to feel like we need to to consume this, consume that or attend this event and that event.

I called my absence from technology a “cleanse.” My intentions were simple: take a step back from something for a period of time to better learn what role it played in my existence.

This technological cleanse took four months in total. Throughout it I began to observe my surroundings more, especially the people within them. One major thing I realized was that most people’s cell phones were sacred to them. They had to be within five feet of them at all times and if they weren’t it would cause general irritability and a lack of focus.

For example, one night I was hanging out with some friends. At one point I looked around and noticed that the majority of them were on their phones. I’d try to start a conversation but it would quickly die down. This began to become a common occurrence in my social life.

I also noticed that, on average, a lot of people checked their phone every five minutes. Having a conversation with someone who suffered from FOMO became exhausting because of how distracted they were.

I felt cast off as a weirdo for not having social media. Upon hearing about my absence from the web, many people looked at me with a perplexed look on their face, as if to say, “how do you go through your day?” But, I felt a sense of honour in missing out.

This allowed me to quantify life in a new perspective that didn’t just stop at technology. I began to realize that it was okay to miss out on the goings on in life. I didn’t have to go see a concert or go to a bar. I didn’t feel guilty if something happened without me there.

Why? Because I was enjoying what was in front of me. I didn’t live elsewhere, I lived in the now. I found that we spent our days communicating with others who may have been anywhere in the world, which was fantastic, but we were forgetting to communicate with those right in front of us.

While it was tough to change how I communicated with the world (especially with friends and family), I no longer felt dragged down and I re-signed in to social media. And, as expected, it doesn’t play a big role in my life. I don’t check my newsfeed constantly and I often find myself turning my phone off.

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