Disconnected & Connected

I just had dinner with my neighbors from home. The youngest (Izzy, age 4) was playing tic-tac-toe on an iPhone and the oldest (Jacob, age 10) was busy connecting to the WiFi to upload photos to Instagram. Until the iPhone and social media took over, even having a cell phone wasn’t really that time-consuming. (Unless, of course, you count endless games of Snake or Brick Breaker.

Watching Iz and Jake play on the phones reminded me of just how stressed I’ve been about always feeling “connected.” Work bleeds into life when email push notifications come every 30 minutes, day or night. Comparison of social lives is a constant reminder with every Instagram or Twitter or Facebook refresh. The need to document every single latte, shopping spree, and cupcake takes away from living in the moment.

I personally turn my phone on silent (except for my alarm) whenever I fall asleep at night and keep it on the other side of the room. But other than those four-ish hours, I’m hooked. I push for new emails, respond to tweets, and navigate the streets of Manhattan… all. the. time.

While shopping one night after work (#retailtherapy), I had a super long phone call with a friend. I should note, staying in touch with long-distance friends is really a huge benefit of technology. Anyway, my phone ended up dying midway through my errands. I had my iPhone backup battery, but I decided to just not charge it. The hour or so shopping without my phone was kind of liberating.

I was on the subway home and because I didn’t have my iPhone to listen to music, I did have some time to think. I realized just how sad it was that I didn’t disconnect more. I boiled down this need to be constantly connected to two things: FOMO (feeling of missing out) and panic over missing an important email for work.

The FOMO thing is really stressful. It’s dumb, but it still drives me crazy! What if I miss a text message!? What if I miss a phone call?! What if I don’t hear about last minute plans in time?! The verdict that I ultimately came to was…. who cares? Yes, I’m missing one event, but if I’m really living in the moment then no event should distract me from that.

As for the important email fear… I just have to get over that. I mean, honestly, there are very few things that are absolute emergencies. Plus, constantly “being available” means that people know that I’m constantly available… so I end up being the first person to reach out to. But this is my fault. If I don’t want to be constantly available, then I can’t be constantly available. There is absolutely no harm in taking a night off or a weekend off or simply an hour off. The world will keep on spinning; the work will be there when I return.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve been implementing more disconnection lately. During a four-hour dinner, I didn’t check my phone at all. We were engrossed in conversation… and our phones weren’t even a thought in our minds. It was amazing. Real life > digital life. Always.

Disconnect by…

Turning your phone off when you’re with your friends
Keeping your phone in another room while working
Committing to a specific time every night to spend an hour away from all screens
Turning off push notifications
Collecting phones as a group when out to dinner and turning them all off

How do you disconnect?


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Bailey @ Becoming Bailey

I disconnect by turning my iPhone onto airplane mode so I can't receive phone calls, text messages, or emails. I try to disconnect for at least an hour before bedtime and the first hour after I get up in the morning.



Disconnecting can be so nice and freeing. I like to disconnect when I'm studying by keeping my phone in my bag and not taking it out unless it rings. No texting!

Lanie W.

I'm taking a class called Science and Technology in Society this semester and it has completely opened my eyes to how deeply (and scarily) technology is engrained in my life. Not being up to date on my Twitter and Instagram feeds freaks me out. When I wake up I scroll and scroll until I see the last thing I saw before I went to bed the night before- this is the WORST habit that I waste so much time on. Who cares if I missed a funny tweet or pretty picture on Instagram? I need to let these things go but it's so hard when we are all constantly on social media. Taking time to disconnect is so important and something we need to each day. Thank you for this post!


Josephine Hoang

I disconnected by giving up social media for Lent! Soo refreshing, really. Although, I do have some friends where the Internet is really the only way we are able to keep in touch at the moment. So it's a lose/win situation.


Kelly Meyerhofer

When my friends and I go out to eat, we all put our phones in the middle of the table. If anyone picks up their phone to anwer a text or e-mail, they have to pay for everyone! It's a fun game but an even better way to ensure we enjoy our limited time together.


I love this post! I was babysitting last night at the 3 year old knew how to get on the iPad herself to keep her occupied while I put her sister to bed. It is crazy to think that these kids will grow up with SO much handheld technology when we were just growing up with desktop computers. I definitely need to work on disconnecting more; especially when I am with friends and family!

Ashley Mason

This post is great! I think it's really important to disconnect because it's not fun to be glued to your phone. No one should be constantly checking their accounts. It's so refreshing to just put the phone down and actually get stuff done – like homework, studying, and hanging out with friends and family!


Lizzie Ward

When I'm out with friends we play the "phone game" where everyone puts their phone on the table. If you touch your phone you have to buy a round of drinks or something for everyone. It makes you appreciate your time with friends a whole lot more!

Pamela (not pam)

I do social media free days. Disconnecting from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is always good and I try to disconnect from social media 6 or 7 at night. If my friends want to to talk they can call or text but they know I won't use social media for conversations.

Human Racing

The suggestion about leaving your phone in another room while working is a good one! Not only are you disconnecting you're also removing distractions that keep you (or me at least) off track. In order to do my own disconnecting I don't have any push notifications on my phone except emails (and unless it's super urgent I don't respond until I'm back at my computer) and try to keep my facebook time limited, especially during high stress moments when I'll completely log out or temporarily deactivate my account.


I too experience the Feeling Of Missing Out. Particularly when my phone dies and I am out, with either a low back up battery or if I forgot it in another bag. But I try to remember that 10 years ago I didn't even have a cell phone, and I lived. But they are part of everyday life in 2013. I personally don't utilize any Push notifications, I find them annoying. I also turn my phone on silent when I sleep. When I am out with friends I really try to leave my phone in my bag and not on the table, although not as much as I'd like. Trying to get to there. I love the liberating feeling of realizing I haven't checked my phone in an hour and not caring! Technology has its ups and downs for sure.


Also I should add I think the advent of Facebook has changed the way we use phones. Maybe social networking in general has, but I feel particularly FB has because we don't have to wait for a text to see what our friends are doing, we can just check the newsfeed. Sometimes I wish FB mobile didn't exist. I know I'd spend less time on my phone when around people if it didn't. I don't even find it that interesting anymore but it almost seems like an automatic response for so many of us now… hands empty? Must check phone!

Alisa Renee'

I deactivated my Twitter account on Friday for this very reason.

Twitter, though wonderful, was becoming such a huge distraction and causing me to waste so much time that I could've spent being productive. Furthermore, I am about to make a major life change– I'm switching careers, and needed some quiet time to think and reflect and plan my next move. With the endless chatter of my timeline, my mind was consumed with the thoughts of everyone else. So much that I couldn't hear my own. So I left. Quit cold turkey. And I miss it SO MUCH. But I'm also digging all the time I get to listen to myself, and my phone battery lasts much longer now. Lol. Disconnecting is a good and amazing and necessary thing.


I was recently in Disney World running the Princess Half-Marathon. During the weekend I was down there, my phone died multiple times, sometimes in the early afternoon. As frustrated as I was to not be Facebooking or tweeting ALL of my fun moments, it was really nice to be disconnected from the outside world for awhile. I ran with my phone and live-tweeted/FBed my run in real-time (which was somewhat easy to do with a crowded course that led to walking about half of it), but I think I could have gotten more out of it if I didn't have it with me. I recently repped my university at our Intercollegiate Band this past weekend and my phone totally died on the second day, which I was actually okay with. (I noticed 98% of the musicians didn't have their phones onstage to begin with.) I got back yesterday and when I went to get caught up with the world, turns out I didn't miss much at all…


i almost always have my phone on silent. my dog is afraid of the sound and then at work, i don't want it to ring. and i don't have any push notifications. i have set times everyday where i can check instagram, twitter, email, etc. and when i am out with friends, my phone is in my purse. it's really easy to get sucked in, and i know people appreciate it when you can give them your full attention.


i also turned off the little bubble on my mail app that counts how many emails i have. if i see i have new emails, i feel compelled to check it or feel stressed that i have so many personal emails to deal with on top of work emails (i refuse to get work emails on my iphone…they can wait til 9am!)


I try to leave my phone in another room when I'm at home. I also encourage my boyfriend to disconnect when we're together. I was starting to notice if we were hanging out we would tend to plug in to our phones, not good! It's important to live in the moment!


I've learned not to be too attached to my cellphone when I'm with friends, and I actually end up enjoying more that time and remembering more of about it. Weird, isn't it? But disconnecting oneself from the technology should be done at least 1 hour a day, and it'll make some remarkable changes.