Things I Learned When I Was Forced To Unplug

Thinking about the things I learned when I was forced to unplug | Self-development in you 50's | The Barefaced Chic, UK lifestyle blog

Since launching The Barefaced Chic, rarely a day goes by when I am not online for one reason or another. There is ALWAYS a social message to post, a comment to answer an email to read, a blog post to write, a video to shoot – and on and on it continues.

As much as I would love to be, I am not a full time blogger. I have a business, a business in the early stages of launch and a few rental properties to keep my little grey cells occupied.

Although I love to keep busy, it can sometimes be hard to separate my work and social life. I’ll see something interesting and want to share it with you via Instagram stories, or capture it on camera. When out and about, both Andrew and I are always on the lookout for new spots to do outfit shoots. We’ll be presented with a beautiful meal and instantly pull out our cameras.

So it was with some trepidation – more like actual panic – that I realised (due to a family members ill-health and need for care) that for over a month I would be forced to live on a boat in the midst of Winter with no WIFI and a really poor phone signal. Now we have lived on our boat before, but there is a huge difference between walking into the nearest town to score WIFI and drink tea on a balmy Summer day and battling to do so through wind and driving rain.

A choice had to be made: spend hours soaked to the skin, freezing my butt off trying to work in-between caring for our family member, or scale back to the bare bones and simply do what HAD to be done. You may think it was an easy choice, but I do think if it hadn’t been for my own ill-health forcing me to stay onboard in the dry and warm I would have donned my waterproofs and battled on. Such is the need to stay connected.

Thinking about the things I learned when I was forced to unplug | Self-development in you 50's | The Barefaced Chic, UK lifestyle blog

Is The Need To Stay Connected Really A Bad Thing?

There seems to be a lot of talk about digital detoxing lately, especially within the blogging  community. It has become almost fashionable to unplug, turn off our computers and put our smart phones in a drawer. But do we really need a digital detox?

Whilst researching this post, these are the facts that made my jaw drop. Links to all the below facts can be found in the information area – underneath the post.

Decreasing Human Connection

39% of children in the UK say they sometimes communicate with their parents by email, text and social media even when their parents are at home.

Over half (58%) of UK adults claim they use text messages at least once a day to communicate with family and friends, yet only 49% meet people face-to face on such a regular basis. However, the majority of of UK adults say they would actually prefer to meet (67%) or speak on the phone (10%) than communicate by text.

The average British adult now sends over 200 texts per month.

26% of adults have sent text or instant messages to friends or family whilst in the same room.

21% of UK children feel their parents don’t listen to them properly because they’re constantly picking up emails, calls or texts on their mobiles

Time Suck

UK adults spend an average 8 hours 41 minutes glued to their screens. More time than they spend asleep.

The average British adult spends 25 hours per week online.

The average user check their smartphone 150 a day.

One in ten internet users access the internet more than 50 times per day.

Becoming Hooked

80% of smart phone users (aged 18-44) say the first thing they do in the morning is check their phone.

66% of UK smart phone users suffer from some degree of nomophobia (a fear of being without/losing your phone).

Half of all UK adults admit to being ‘completely hooked‘ on their smartphones.

The Affects On Concentration

Human average attention spans have declined significantly in the 8 years since smartphones existed. They  are now lower than that of a goldfish.

Even if you don’t reply to it, receiving a notification is enough to severely distract you.

As our use of technology has increased, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined.

Your brain may also suffer from a lack of downtime – like those small breaks, queueing store, when we all used to daydream instead of staring at our phones for instance.

Thinking about the things I learned when I was forced to unplug | Self-development in you 50's | The Barefaced Chic, UK lifestyle blog

Harming Our Brains

Neuroimaging research has shown that excessive screen time actually damages our brains. Structural and functional changes have been found in the regions of the brain which govern executive attention, decision making, emotional processes and cognitive control.

Media-multitasking and rapidly switching from task to task can actually weaken your brain’s anterior cingulate cortex, which is used in high-level information and emotion processing.

Sleep Disturbance

47% of adults blamed web browsing for missing sleep, or being tired the following day.

Despite artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppressing the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep, in an American survey, almost everyone surveyed, 95%, use some type of electronics like a television, computer, video game or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.

Thinking about the things I learned when I was forced to unplug | Self-development in you 50's | The Barefaced Chic, UK blog for women over 50  

Yet I Don’t Believe Ditching Technology Is The Answer

1. We need technology

75% of us are using smartphones, at the push of a button or swipe of a screen we can share, create or communicate with nearly anyone at anytime. We are merely a few click away from becoming friends with over a billion people on Facebook. Via social media we are becoming a true global community.

Our lives are becoming increasingly easier to manage via apps, virtual to-do lists and cloud storage. All the information we could possibly need to run our lives and our businesses is at our fingertips.

For the millions of people who are cut off either physically or emotionally from the real world, the virtual world is an absolute lifeline.

2. Achieving goals is easier with help

We all need a little help or inspiration sometimes. Social media, blogs and websites can all be an excellent source of both. I mean, who hasn’t used the net or social media to answer their questions on life or business? And Pinterest is stuffed with ideas on EVERYTHING!

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The Answer lies In Balance

Whilst going on a digital detox may be the answer for some, for others it may be counterproductive. I truly believe the answer lies in balance and self-control.

Staring at a screen for long periods is no good for any of us, so lets all try and take regular screen breaks. Let’s use our time to engage with the real world. Take a walk on your lunch break rather than scrolling through social media, catch up with friends over a coffee (ban the use of phones for half and hour), pick up the phone and talk instead of texting, start a hobby.

This world is filled with the most amazing sights, sounds, smells and tastes – and, no matter how good your screen quality is, you will never be able to experience these things from behind it.

Learn to take control of technology instead of allowing it to control you.

So What Did I Learn When I Was Forced To Unplug?

1) I can survive without technology – but I cannot thrive. In order to run my blog, my businesses and my life I need technology. For me, the potential harmfulness of technology is overshadowed by the sheer effort it takes and the stress that is caused attempting to do the things I need to do without it.

If I can move forward with balance, technology is a must-have.

2) Life is built on experiences which creates memories. It’s our memories that fill our humanity bank, not the number of posts we share on social media. I have started to leave my phone in a different room from myself, take less photographs and be ‘in the moment‘ more often.

3) I wasn’t always truly engaging with family and friends. Despite my phone being in my bag, I realised that I wasn’t giving the people in my life 100% of my attention. My mind would flitter to the distraction of the online world.

As a result, I have now started to actually leave my phone in the boot of my car when meeting with the important people in my life,

4) I forgot what life was like before the online world became an integral part of it. There were a number of times during my enforced unpluggage that I had no idea what to do with myself. I have never, ever been the type of person to sit around watching TV all day, so it made me reassess what I do with my time.

I now have scheduled downtime from all technology every day and do something constructive or fun!

5) I had almost allowed my online presence to overpower my real life. Because of my blog and businesses, the ‘online me’ took centre stage, which meant I was almost squeezing in my life around it.

I am now re-examining my priorities and making decision to enhance my real life, not my blogging life.

In Conclusion

Life is very, very short and incredibly fragile. When we eventually leave this mortal coil not one person is going to remember how awesome we were at tweeting! We will be remembered for the way we lived our lives, and the way we touched the lives of others.

We can, without doubt, make a difference in this world and connect with thousands via our online presence. But, if we don’t unplug now and again, can we really connect with ourselves?

Have you unplugged? Was in enforced or did you choose to turn your back on technology for a while?

Cheerio.

10 Comments

  1. March 31, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    Really enjoyed this post. I too find that leaving my phone in a different room whilst I spend time with the family, or leaving it at home when we go out together really helps. I try to catch up with notifications or messages when I have time to myself, rather than when I am with other people. It’s tricky to find a balance.

    • April 1, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      I agree, finding the right balance is a tricky one. I’m still working on it, but I’m definitely paying more attention to the world around me now.
      Michelle xx

  2. Joanna
    April 1, 2017 / 12:39 am

    I’m afraid I do spend a bit too much time online reading my blogs. I use my iPad to FaceTime with my kids and grandkids and wouldn’t have it any other way. It is much more interactive than a simple phone call.
    On the other hand, I carry a phone in my purse (turned off) for emergencies only. It frustrates the heck out of me when people are concentrating on their phone instead of those they are with. Or worse, distracted driving. Put the phone down!
    As for snapping pictures, I’ve decided to just enjoy the moment, the scenery or the companionship. We miss out on much while trying to get that perfect shot. Why?
    I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram….. I have no need to put my life out there for all to read or view.
    It must be very difficult to find a life balance when your business is online.

    • April 1, 2017 / 3:40 pm

      It can be really hard to turn off from technology Joanna. I must admit, despite being a blogger, I really don’t enjoy social media. It is, unfortunately, a necessary part of blogging and becoming part of my readers’ community.

      I really couldn’t live my life the way I wish without technology, but I am becoming more aware of how much I use it and am taking steps to be far more ‘in the moment’.

      Michelle xx

  3. April 2, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Excellent points made here Michelle & I do agree however sometimes these figures don’t tell the whole story. For example my 11 year old does sent me texts when we’re both at home, usually something funny she’s seen or sometimes asking for something downstairs when I’m upstairs. That isn’t to say we don’t communicate face to face, infact she’s the cuddliest person you’ll ever meet & constantly hanging off me! She’ll also talk under water with a mouth full of marbles, telling me absolutely every timy detail of her day!
    So although in a survey she’d have answered yes to the question – Do you communicate with your parents by text when you’re both at home? – It would not paint an accurate picture. Which is why your article is so brilliant because you explain all the aspects, good & bad, ultimately coming to the conclusion that balance is always best.
    Top read! xx

    • April 6, 2017 / 10:03 am

      That’s the thing about surveys, etc Michelle – you can get all the answers you want and skew the results by simply asking leading questions. That’s why, as you say, I tried to be objective in the post and see both sides.
      I know how cuddly your daughter is, she’s an absolute sweetie. And it’s obvious from knowing you as a friend just how involved you are with your children – one heck of a mum by anyone’s standards!!
      Personally, I couldn’t live my life without technology. Now that’s not to say I couldn’t LIVE without it, but running my life is ten times harder and far more stressful. So the tech is staying, but I am thinking more about how and when I use it.
      Glad you like the post, it’s been one of my favourites to write.
      xxxx

  4. April 2, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    I ( thank god) don’t use my Phone while being with friends or family. But when I come home first thing I do is grab my Phone. To see if I have become famous in my absence!! Lol.

    • April 6, 2017 / 9:57 am

      You never know Nancy! I’m afraid I used to be guilty of grabbing my phone as soon as my eyes opened in the morning. I now leave it downstairs in the nigh, where it belongs!
      Michelle xx

  5. April 4, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    Gosh that’s a lot to take in! And worrying too, how all this tech can affect us in such a negative way. But you’re right. We need it. It’s part of out lives now whether we like it or not. The only time I really do take a break is over Christmas when we usually go away for a long holiday. Although I take my Mac with me, I only use it a few times a week and I really do feel refreshed at the end of the holiday.
    Great post, Michelle!
    Suzy xx
    http://www.suzyturner.com

    • April 6, 2017 / 9:52 am

      It was a whole lot of information to research Suzy, but I enjoyed putting together this post. My life would be even more complex than it is right now without technology, but I do think putting the tech away now and again is the answer.
      Michelle xx

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