It’s Okay to Unplug…
Your phone. The impulse that you must answer anything that rings dates back to olden times when people had to answer the phone as there was no other way of knowing who was calling or whether it was an emergency. The advent of technology such as caller ID, voice mail, and text messaging has freed us from this urgency. We are now able to tell who is calling us, decide whether we are free to pick up, and the caller has the option of leaving a message which we can then use to determine the action we need to take.
You are hereby officially allowed to turn off your ringer or your phone altogether for important occasions like: family dinners, driving a car, sleeping, and having anything else you need to concentrate on. Please note that this permission extends to both work and personal phones.
The TV. The average American watches 5-6 hours of television a night. The percentage of quality entertainment on the 50,000+ stations currently in existence is approximately 7%.
In contrast, human beings have the capacity to perform up to 100 billion different tasks at any given time, from playing with their children to starting their own business to lying in a hammock under a tree and watching what shapes the clouds take. The average human being utilizes around 0.000001% of these abilities on a daily basis.
None of these statistics are scientific, but they’re probably pretty darn close. Turn off the TV.
Twitter/Facebook. You will never be able to catch every single remark your friends/random celebrities have made. You will never manage to see every picture someone posts of the dinner they’re having which I’m sure is magical in person but just looks like a glob on a plate when viewed on a computer screen. Your friends will not hate you because you missed their witty 140-character review of Ice Road Truckers—and if they do, you hereby have permission to find new friends.
On the rare occasions when social media is used to impart truly significant information like the birth of a child or the arrival of a hurricane, be assured that you will eventually hear the news by some other means even if you miss the tweet/post about it. Your sister will undoubtedly mention the arrival of your new nephew the next time you talk to her. You will see things like trees and cars flying past your window. You will know the big things without having to constantly monitor for them. Everything else is just fluff. Entertaining fluff, granted, but still fluff.
Your e-mail notifications. E-mail is a non-urgent form of communication. By its very nature, it is sent out into cyberspace with the understanding that it will be opened and read whenever the recipient gets to it/feels like it. There is no way for the sender to know when this will happen. If the sender has an urgent message to convey, it should be done by another method. This is the responsibility of the sender to understand.
As such, there is no need for you, as the recipient, to have a little pop-up notification alert you every single time a message comes in. This is the equivalent of the Postal Service taking each individual piece of mail the moment it’s dropped in a mailbox and delivering it immediately—by standing outside your window and tapping on the pane, waving the letter in the air and mouthing “Got another one!” (Then coming back five minutes later when another letter is sent.)
Turn off the notifications. It will be okay. I promise you.
If you feel any other devices/sources of distraction should be added to this PSA, please feel free to leave your vote in the comments.
(Photo credit: Hand Press Power Button via Shutterstock)