Adult 641, Reflection Three

Inspired by Nicholas Carr’s article Is Google Making Us Stupid? and Jess’ blog, I began to question if I was a “pancake person.” Do I rely on technology too much? Has my attention span become worse? I decided to spend a weekend unplugged from technology. My friend Rebecca does it every year and writes about it. I’ve also read about doing it on a few minimalist blogs (I am not a minimalist, as my large vintage studio pottery collection shows, but I appreciate their ideals). There’s even a holiday called National Day of Unplugging.

Because I didn’t want to go into technology withdrawal, I decided to give myself a simpler challenge: no Internet or social media for 48 hours.

Note: since this blog was very labor intensive it’s written informally in the format of expanded notes I wrote on my phone all weekend.


I gave it all up at 7pm. Afterwards I tried to keep myself busy by listening to Matthew E White, making pizza, & watching DVRed shows. I really wanted to tweet about the music on Awkward. I did lots of note taking. I read NY Magazine & Entertainment Weekly since I have to do something at all times while watching TV. Usually it’s blogging, internetting, schoolwork, magazines, phone usage all at the same time.
I realized I normally I don’t read a whole article–maybe just a few lines and then I skip to the next one. It’s like I just want to get it done.  I can’t look up things I’m reading about like restaurant menus.


I keep checking phone out of habit but don’t open any apps. I just check the time. It feels really awkward. I was early for a haircut & my first thought was that I’d have to wait with nothing to do and get frustrated because I’d have to sit in silence.
I was invited to a wedding where I didn’t know anyone (my husband was hired as the photographer). As I was getting ready, I really wanted to tweet “is a denim shirt wedding appropriate?” but just changed. I kept thinking of funny things to tweet.
Since I didn’t know anyone, I would usually play on my phone but I brought a book. When I told PJ I was reading Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher he went into a hilarious bit about The Edge from U2 sending Carrie Fisher postcards about Star Wars & how she should see his band. I really wanted to tell everyone on Twitter about it but couldn’t.

Without my phone I realized I am never going with PJ to another photo gig (he only does weddings once a year or so for friends, mostly he does bands). He never has time to hang out with me. I sat in the car the whole time reading my book and drinking homebrew from a mason jar that PJ brought out to me.


I was generally too busy running fun Sunday errands to think about any of it too much. In the afternoon, I opened my laptop for the first time–I worked on Lindsey’s mix, watched Homeland. I did get a little futzy during TV and it was so hard not to check my phone. But here’s the thing when you cut yourself off from social media–you don’t write so no one responds to you. It’s kind of like you don’t exist unless you are tweeting, posting photos, whatever.


I got frustrated many times by little things like wanting to look bands up at record store, stuff I find thrifting or bits I’m reading. A life without imdb is one not worth living.

I absolutely think it made time spent with my husband better. No distractions. We got beers at Legend and I didn’t bring my phone out once!

I worked on a crossword puzzle, read one book, two issues NY Mag, and one EW. For someone who has been a slower print reader since the age of the Internet this is amazing.

I definitely missed Twitter, fb & my Google Reader. I missed interacting with my friends. I like the reassurance, the self esteem boosts you get when someone replies to your tweets. But I also like seeing what they’re up to–looking at their Instagram photos or their tweets.


I don’t think I will give up social media and the Internet again any time soon but I will be more conscious of my future use. I want to read more–I don’t because I say I don’t have any time (mostly true ,due to school) but I think I can push some stuff back & start attacking my virtual & real life bookshelves.


15 thoughts on “Adult 641, Reflection Three

  1. Haha, I thought about you all weekend and wondered how the experiment was coming along. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this account of your experience unplugging…it really makes me want to try it. Soon! Your observation that you seldom read more than a few lines of an article before moving along to the next one is SO similar to what I find myself doing. And I think this all hearkens back to what Carr suggests: access to unbounded “at your fingertips” information and links that shoot off in a million directions = a shorter attention span. Or maybe that just happens to people who have trouble concentrating in the first place (i.e. ME). 😉 I also find that I am always reaching for my phone when trying to kill time, or when I’m by myself. Who knows what all I’m missing while my head is buried in that thing.

    I love Legend!! I hope you guys went on Saturday- it was GORGEOUS!

    • You can do it! I will support your efforts to unplug! It definitely made me more self-aware, which is not a bad thing.
      I hate not reading full articles! I don’t think it would take me much more time to read the three page Joe Biden article than to stare intently at the pictures like I currently do.
      I know think of all the things you could see and notice when you’re not on your phone!

  2. Glad that you accepted and survived the challenge! It’s amazing how different your life can be when all of the digital components are removed. The next time that you try this challenge, consider it a “retro” event where those of us who grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s remember a very different life. I’ve detached from digital media at the beach and found it refreshing. I also found that it was a necessity when we brought home a new puppy. However, if I were a new mother, there’s NO WAY I would live without some contact with the outside world. The Blizzard of 2010 was a fun, digital experience. Nearly everyone I knew was on-line. There have to be a few exceptions in life, yes?

    • I love when a sense of community is built online! That blizzard was horrible, so were those recent storms that made us lose power, but I loved turning to twitter & seeing how my friends were spending their time! You feel less alone.

  3. I so appreciate the informal nature and the raw truths you shared here… so REAL! (And yes, Legend’s Brown is the best beer, although I’m growing rather fond of Sam’s Hazel Brown… but I digress.) As friends have suggested books over the past few years, I keep saying, that sounds great. Let me add it to my list of books to read after I graduate! Time is a scarce commodity when you work and go to school. But I have recently started reading not one, but TWO real books outside of class. Both are written in small, easily consumed chapters, which helps since I, too, am a slow reader. One is If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break — Field Notes from a Zen Life. Easily consumed chapters, but the digestion — the thinking part — takes some time. Well worth it, though. The second book I’m reading is Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know. I’m learning a lot from both books, but what I’m truly relishing is reading. Just reading. For pleasure. It’s wonderful. I shall not wait until I graduate to do it again. 🙂

    • Joanne, I am so glad you too have problems reading “real” books! I always think it’s just me–one of my teacher friends works full time, finished a masters degree and reads 2-3 books a week! Yes reading for pleasure! Can you do it without feeling guilty about not reading for class?

  4. This was so fun to read! I liked how you documented the visuals, it enhanced the reader experience. It now makes sense why tweets weren’t answered right away:)

    In class I’ve heard you reference your husband’s work a few times so I’m glad I got to learn more by checking out his website…which then led me to the Hopscotch Music Fest…and then listening and reading about some of the 2012 lineup. I am excited about the cd!

    • I was so happy to do a post where I could put in useful pictures, hahah!

      I felt so bad about not replying to your tweet right away! I want you to continue the positive impression of Twitter.

      Aww I’m glad you went to PJ’s site! Hopscotch was a total blast and you can’t go wrong with the bands on the list. You might see a few on your mix. 😉

  5. I wonder/have to ask – that as you think about yourself or who you are, is part of your whole self your online persona? Your statement of “But here’s the thing when you cut yourself off from social media–you don’t write so no one responds to you. It’s kind of like you don’t exist unless you are tweeting, posting photos, whatever.” Did you feel like you were missing part of your existence, maybe the same as if your husband was out of town for the weekend. I don’t have the online community that you have, but do know how I feel when a core part of my life/social community is missing. I find your statement about the feeling of “not existing” when you’re not part of social media very interesting.

  6. Loved reading about your experience! It is amazing how integrated into our lives our digital connection can be!!!! I feel like I do disconnect myself probably 1-2 days a week. I still have my phone, but I try hard not to use it for anything other than texts/calls. I enjoy it for the most part b/c like you mentioned happening to you, I feel more connected to my family.

    I remember after I had the twins, my phone was my savior. I managed to master nursing two babies at once and responding to emails/facebook/texting simultaneously. It was quite a sight but it kept me connected to the real world. We really spent the first few months home b/c it was the middle of the winter and also hard to pack up two babies.

  7. Indeed a fun read…I do something similar once a year in the summer when I go on vacation with my family in the summer. Deal is we don’t have phone access in the woods where we camp…so its off the grid for two weeks! I love it!! for the first two days I recognize I get really frustrated as I check mail and work seeps in…then I go flyfishing everyday…catch trout, hike and hang out by a fire every night. I discover after a few days that I don’t really miss the constant flood of info and how it beckons me. I recommend you try to disconnect for longer than 48 hours. You didn’t get over the DT’s on that one.

    To some extent I think we all suffer from nomophobia

  8. Wow, Mel – great post. Although social media is not my choice of “indulgence” there are other things that distract me from sustaining a healthy balance in life. Key for me is learning to enjoy the things I love without giving them consent to take control. I respect so much that you had the courage to walk away for a weekend and experience life w/o your digital connect. I venture to say, although you’ve determined you won’t give up your social media, you did some valuable lessons. Thanks for being so honest in sharing your experience – we can all benefit from this!

  9. Pingback: M.Ed, HRD: Jess Hill- Reflections of an adult learner - ADLT 641: The internet– a great way to connect without having to actually see or talk to anyone!

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