You hear a lot of people bemoaning the fact they’re “plugged in” too much. “I’m going off the grid this weekend! Need to unplug!”
Certainly, I’m in the circle of the oft-plugged-in and could use a little down time from screen time from time to time. But it’s not being plugged in that I think people grow tired of. It’s how they use their budget of such time.
Social media tools have allowed us to be incredibly schizophrenic in our daily communications. Maintaining an active Twitter account alone can eat up and entire day if you let it. Add email, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, instant messaging, texting and the like and, if you’re even a remotely social person, you burn an awful lot on just the churn of daily conversing.
Many of us multitask, further splitting our neurons from their more comfortable, focused paths. It’s not natural to do two or more things at once, especially with a brain that is already running all the subconscious systems of biologic equilibrium behind the scenes.
Our brains get tired. And the more we throw at them, the more tired they get. Still, we overload our system with caffeine and sugar, loud music or adrenaline from a successful brainstorm or office pow-wow and jump right back in to the juggling act.
While it is true that unplugging, spending a little IRL R&R with friends and family can recharge our systems, it might also be that putting our systems on a singular, passive act may do the trick, too. When I want to reclaim my sanity, I pull out my iPad and watch TED talks, episodes of CBS Sunday Morning, live performances of my favorite bands and listen to bits and pieces of NPR coverage from the week. I read the latest articles from the New Yorker or The Atlantic or dig around for some lengthy bio or background pieces on celebrities or bands or business leaders I find fascinating.
I do it all while plugged in … using the Internet for a singular purpose: to entertain me. I don’t write, I don’t engage. In fact, I intentionally stopped using a bluetooth keyboard with my iPad so I would be less inclined to create content with it.
For a few hours it’s just me as a consumer, not a creator. No conversations. No responses. Just soaking up some new knowledge without the expectation of a response, comment or share.
And after, I’m back to sane. And often ready to create something quite impressive for others to chew on.
Yes – you should unplug from time to time. But don’t forget to do something different with your plugged in time as well. It may just keep you sane.