What I Learned From 48 Hours Without Technology

I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Addicted to tech

My wife and I had planned this weekend getaway for months.  Two days away from home, an hour’s drive from our house.  A chance to relax, refresh and reconnect. 

We try to do this at least once a year – kind of a mini-vacation.  We walk along the beach, hold hands and talk about life.  We plan, we dream, and we just enjoy being together.

Usually, I take my laptop with me.  I usually wake up first on these trips, so I spend an hour or so catching up on email, Facebook and other media-related things.  That’s it for the computer.  During the day, I’ll check my phone a few times to catch up on things.

But over the past couple of months, I’ve become aware of the addictive nature of our technology, where we turn impulsively to our phones throughout the day without thinking — just to see if there’s anything new.

If you’ve seen my last few blog posts, I’ve been thinking about how technology gets in the way of our most important relationships.

My wife is my most important relationship.  So I thought, “What if I left my laptop home on this weekend – and didn’t check anything on my phone?”

I figured it would be easy.  After all, it was only two days.  I felt like I’ve become pretty good at protecting those key relationships, keeping my phone completely out of sight when I’m with those people that matter most to me.

I was half-right.

I left a quick message on Facebook, saying that I was going offline for a couple of days.

We started driving.  My phone started vibrating with Facebook responses to my comment.  Everything inside me wanted to grab my phone and read the messages.

Several times during the weekend I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.  I reached for it, and found it wasn’t there.  I was just imagining that it was vibrating.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • I have managed to protect important people in my life from my technology.
  • I haven’t learned to protect myself.

Addicted to techI’ve learned to ignore my phone when I’m with others.  That’s become a good thing.

But whenever I had a spare moment alone, I found myself reaching for my phone to check texts and messages like a smoker reaches for a pack of cigarettes. 

I had no reason to do so, and my phone wasn’t even vibrating that much.  But it had become my default setting.  All weekend, I felt like I wanted to sneak off for a quick fix.  A moment in the restroom, a quick trip to the car to bring something in, a few seconds waiting in line – they all became triggers to check in.

I resisted, which was good.  But the drive never left.

We arrived home on Sunday evening.  I checked everything, and realized that I hadn’t missed anything that critical (except leaving a birthday wish for a good friend – sorry MB!).

So I’ve learned that I’ve gotten a lot better about protecting my important relationships from my technology.

But I’m also one of those important relationships. 

I need to learn to protect “me.”

A simple lesson I wasn’t expecting from a great weekend.

 

Would you be willing to walk away from your phone for a weekend?  Why or why not?

  • Kathy Collard Miller

    Good for you, Mike. Doing that would be hard for me but I would anticipate it would be a great opportunity. Thanks for inspiring me!

    • That’s why I only did it for a couple of days – to see what it was like. We’re planning a long vacation later this year, so I’m going to aim for leaving the laptop behind . . .

  • Mina

    Yes, it’s quite liberating! Allowes me to be more engaged and present in the moment of what we are doing!

  • TyHoad

    I went two years without a cell phone until 2012… It was the best chapter of my life.

    • Wow — impressive! Most people would think that’s like living without your lungs for two years. . .

  • Last summer, my wife and I took an Alaskan cruise – a life-long dream. I chose to leave my laptop home. I did take my phone, but only because it serves as my watch and after the cruise, I had to connect with my family in Seattle (part two of the vacation). I discovered I can live without it, but most importantly, one of the comments my wife made after the cruise ended: “Thanks for leaving your computer home. I loved the time the two of us had. I didn;t have to share you with anybody”.

    I’m working on spending less time on the laptop when I’m at home when she’s there. It’s worth it. I’m falling behind on some personal projects, but it’s worth it.

    • Your wife’s comment is reason enough to give it a try! I wonder why it takes so much work to get our priorities straight . . . Thanks for your thoughts, Roger!