How to Unplug from a Digital World Flooded with Information

By Olivia Holbrook - March 24th, 2020

Quarantine transitioned our lives in an already digital world to life in an artificial pod sans most natural interaction and an overload of information–constantly. Community has proven to be a saving grace in this upside down hour. It looks different, but the heart is the same. The catch? Staying connected means more screen time. Our happy hours and heart-to-hearts are reliant on technology. These moments are good and necessary, but with the added time on our screens, it is harder than ever to peel ourselves away and be still. May we not neglect this time of slowness, of isolation, and the opportunity they bring for us to turn in, to quiet down, and to reconnect with reality. To do this, we must unplug. 

The concept of “unplugging” is so foreign in our progressive, 100 miles per hour world, but this opportunity has quite literally been forced upon us, and we must seize it. In John Eldredge’s book Get Your Life Back, he points out the glaring truth: “We talk about unplugging, but we’re enchanted. . .” So how do we break the enchantment and why should we, when we are starved for human interaction? Let’s start with the “why.” 

Why is “unplugging” from technology beneficial?

  • It gives our brains a break! It’s not until we shut devices off that we realize how bombarded and noisy our lives are. Our minds spin and reel with Instagram likes, breaking news, Reddit comments, funny videos, catchy Tik Tok songs, texts, and never ending streams of information and entertainment. When we turn it off, the world becomes quiet again. This is where original thoughts, mental stillness, and creativity are born! 
  • It helps us reconnect with self and revive the soul. We are so used to constant stimulation, we hardly know what to do when it’s just ourselves. I remember I once forgot my headphones at the gym and felt so put off that I literally twiddled my thumbs while I jogged on the treadmill–what?! Take this time to turn inward and really ask yourself how you are doing. Get reacquainted with you, not the you on Instagram or who you think you ought to be, but the you right now who lives and breathes. Remember the life that exists outside of the virtual–the you that is very physical and very real. 
  • It’s good for the sake of others! When life flies at the speed of technology, our overstimulation and hurry makes us irritable and strips us of compassion. Life becomes more about efficiency and less about the things and people that make life full and grand. When we take time to step away and recenter, our moods improve, and we are more pleasant to be around.
  • It enables us to regain a sense of control. I think we’ve all experienced the “rabbit hole.” It happens to the best of us. We sit down and open our favorite digital medium and begin scrolling with good intentions, but one thing leads us to the next and we find ourselves 3 hours later, eyes aching and no idea how we got to this video of a dancing ferret. This reveals the sad truth that we have no control. Technology dictates our time and not the other way around, but we have the ability to change this.
  • Overall, we’re better for it.

I’m sure you could create a few more reasons of your own, but now that we agree that it’s important to find time to unplug, let’s make it happen! Unplugging doesn’t have to look like a whole day of no technology (although this is a great option if you’re able to swing it). Unplugging can be an hour of turning off your phone or an evening with no screens or waking up early and giving yourself until 8am before checking your phone and emails. The point is to have control over our devices instead of them controlling us. 

To close us out, here are a few token ways to unplug in the midst of the digital madness around us right now:

  • Choosing one day out of your week to completely unplug. I promise those texts and YouTube videos will be there for you when you return. Don’t you want to draw out your favorite show just a little longer, anyway?
  • A TRUE break at lunch where you turn off your phone and enjoy a notification-less hour. (You can thank me later!)
  • Setting boundaries, like only watching shows on the weekend, or limiting yourself to a certain amount of digital media leisure time.
  • Buying an alarm clock (they still exist, you can buy the one I have here) and turning off your phone from 8pm – 8am.

This world was made to be enjoyed and your life was meant to be well-lived.

Oliva Watt Holbrook

These “disconnected” hours will allow us to be better connectors and better humans. We were not meant to move at the speed of technology, so allow yourself to slow down. Take this time to do the projects you “never had time for,” steward hobbies and skills, read books, make art, go on a walk, take a nap, dance and frolic, sit outside and look at clouds or stars or sunsets or flowers, play a board game and belly laugh, build a puzzle, write in your journal, clean out your closet. Do whatever you want! This world was made to be enjoyed and your life was meant to be well-lived. Come alive and shake off the slumber and apathy of a Netflix-binge. Though it seems “counter to the social air we breathe,” as John Eldredge claims, the time is now. Here’s to finding a new sense of freedom through time spent unplugged.

All photos by Olivia Watt Holbrook.

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Howdy! I'm Olivia, and I am the Hospitality Associate for our North Austin locations and Virtual Community!
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