If You Haven’t Tried It, You Should: Why Disconnecting Builds Real Connections
It may be the scariest word in our present vernacular: disconnect. It’s eerie. Bogged down with questions: How will people reach me? What if something important happens? How will I connect?
Our connection to the digital world – the Internet, our iPhone apps, all-consuming social media networks – they have become how we define ourselves: “I am a 26-year-old female in New York searching for a partner;” “Here we are in Monte Carlo, stomping grapes and taking selfies;” “Support this cause! It’s one I really believe in.”
They have become how we see ourselves, the lenses through which we view the world, the glasses that give us vision, the information that gives us purpose.
When we’re not uploading, “liking,” scrolling through posts, finding a partner… who are we? what are we? We may feel like souls pulled from our bodies, wandering helplessly along the course. But we’re far from lost. We’re still rooted in the earth, safe and sound. We’re still here, no emergent cause for concern.
We’re happy, momentarily disconnected from those connections that harness us to things, to people, to ourselves. We’re floating free, coasting just inches above the grass, breathing in, smelling deeply, laughing, smiling, feeling, seeing, touching, exploring, tasting, discovering, deciding. We are living.
And by disconnecting, we are connecting once more. Only, this time, it’s to tangible shapes, to fingers and toes, to friends, to companions, to adventures, to planes, to cars and trains, to villages, to cities big and small.
We’re finding what really matters, without the blur of screens.
It’s all too easy to be a part of the pack when you’ve got several layers of technology to hide behind.
We support what people tell us to, visit the sites that we’re most accustomed to, we even cheer for teams, athletes and individuals simply because they’re trending. We root for the underdog and we don’t even know why.
But when we disconnect, for however long we’re able to, we have a chance to unearth the things that really matter with fresh eyes. There are no layers to shadow our thinking, no blinds to close on the issues. We are first in line to feel, to enjoy, to experience.
Suddenly, having 100 likes on an Instagram photo seems silly; 1,000 (and counting) friends on Facebook is trivial; swiping right on 16 guys in quick succession of one another seems unimportant; tweeting, small.
We’re taking risks in real-time.
You can’t edit real life – and that ability to be unfiltered, raw and real is something that often feels terrifying.
At any given moment, we can erase a tweet, edit a Facebook post, ignore a blind date, delete an account. Experiencing the world in real-time doesn’t award you those same privileges to censor, edit and rewrite.
It allows you to say what you’re feeling – right now, right before it’s too late, right before the moment’s gone – and to mean it. And if you don’t, you’re granted the gift of forgiveness and the ability to apologize.
Risking, feeling, experiencing… they’re the salt of the earth. And without them, what are we?
We’re able to decide for ourselves.
Uncomplicated thinking. Spur-of-the-moment thoughts. Opinions. Emotions. Feelings. Reactions.
They’re unbridled. And when we’re not riddled with thoughts, we have the chance to decide what we want to feel, how we want to feel them and how we want to remember those moments.
We aren’t just following the pack, we aren’t planning a trip because we know someone who knows someone who’s been there before. We aren’t reading a book just because a Facebook friend told us to. We aren’t quitting our jobs just because the idea is in vogue now.
Instead, we’re thinking for ourselves. Unrivaled, unquestioned, unorthodox thinking. We are breaking free. Experiencing for ourselves. Deciding.
We’re making memories, not just commenting on them.
I spend a lot of time digging through old albums, old posts, past tweets. Sometimes, it’s because I’m nostalgic for the past; other times, it’s because I can’t believe anything will feel that fun, that real, that important again anytime soon.
But what are we doing when we’re not purging old posts, commenting on ancient memories? They’re still there, deep within our unconscious, at-the-ready for the moments we need to recall them.
And we have the chance to feel more, to experience more, to laugh and giggle until our bellies hurt, to do something so embarrassing we know that five years from now we’ll be so glad we did.
We’re here, in the moment.
It’s impossible to say that technology hurt us – because it so blatantly doesn’t. In so many ways, technology brings us together. It keeps us close. It’s the string that binds us, the connection that unites us. After all, it’s single-handedly responsible for shrinking the size of the world.
And while the world may be fast, robust and big, the world wide web is a bit more forgiving.
It creeps into those crevices. It finds us. It brings us out into the light. But sometimes it gives us a dark hole to stay in. A cave to nestle in.
Disconnecting draws us out. It reminds us that life – the world and all its inhabitants – they’re happening right here, right now. They’re moving, laughing, disagreeing, arguing, making up and making love, taking first breaths and leaving their last.
Stepping away, stepping back, taking a break, it gives us an opportunity to remember why we’re here, what we’re staying for. It gives us purpose, gives us peace.
Disconnecting gives us a reason to want to connect.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It