Have you ever experienced a Pinterest Fail?
You know, that moment where you spot a cool project or delicious recipe on Pinterest and assure yourself, “I could totally do that – it looks so easy!”
A similar thing happened when I attempted, as I had pledged, to follow Amanda’s lead and give unplugging a shot. How hard could it be, right? I would just read a book, take the pup on a stroll, clean my apartment, hit the gym, spend time with my husband… it sounded like a dream Saturday. I probably wouldn’t even feel the pull of my television, computer, iPad, phone, or social media.
WRONG. SO WRONG.
A recent study found users check their smartphone an average of 110 times / day. Assuming you’re up for 16 hours each day, that’s about 7 times each hour, or once every 8.5 minutes. While that statistic seems unbelievable and frankly, sort of pathetic, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the itch to check something every 10 minutes, if not sooner. It felt like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; I’d instinctively pick up the phone, grab the remote, or think of a fun Instagram post and then yell, “NO! STOP!” to myself. Oh to be a fly on the wall of my apartment witnessing this…
About halfway through the day, I started journaling about the feelings that would come up each time I felt the urge. After reviewing them at the end of my day-long experience, here’s what I learned about myself through unplugging:
- My people-pleasing tendencies were what made me worry most. “I should have told everyone I was doing this,” I thought about an hour in. “I should have made an announcement on Facebook. Or I should have sent out a group text. I should have individually texted everyone who would likely get in contact with me today to let them know I wouldn’t be around and why.” The first thoughts I noticed creeping in centered around what conclusions others around me would leap to if I didn’t respond to them immediately. I didn’t want anyone to be frustrated with me, take my lack of response personally, or worry about my well-being. Looking at this instinct logically, no one probably cared or noticed; people are too worried about themselves and everything going on in their lives to genuinely become frustrated with my lack of response and let it impact their day in any way. And contrary to what social media tells us… I don’t have to tell everyone what I’m doing every second of every day.
- I felt like I was missing out. Instead of focusing on how I could craft a wonderful day for myself with my family, I wondered what everyone else was up to. Rather than making my own fun, I felt a compulsion to check in on my friends and family to experience their fun vicariously through their social media feeds. I was placing their experiences and memories over making my own.
- I actively sought out technology as a distraction. When did I really feel the pull to turn on Netflix or hop on Facebook? When I would think about doing dishes. Or laundry. Or taking the dog out to the bathroom. Technology was my way of distracting myself from tasks I didn’t really feel motivated to tackle. It’s interesting that technology almost feels productive… you may be avoiding something important or dreaded, but you feel like you’re accomplishing something because you’re physically on a device engaging in some sort of communication or media. Devices are an easy way to replace productivity with business.
When all was said and done, my electronic-free day definitely felt like a Pinterest Fail. I set out with good intentions, it was a LOT harder than I thought it would be, and in the end I learned some invaluable lessons about my own shortcomings and what I could improve upon. The fact is when we remove the distractions, all that remains is ourselves. Becoming immersed in others’ lives and the happenings of the world is easy, and while taking a look inward and being present with our own thoughts, fears, and doubts certainly is much harder, doing so sheds light on our strengths and weaknesses so we can be better for ourselves and others.
While it’s tough, I encourage you to take an electronic-free day and see how you feel and what you learn about yourself. We’d love to hear about your experience… comment below and let us know what you discovered!