Writer’s Block: Experiencing life unplugged

Sunday night I watched a segment on “Dateline” that focused on four 20-something roommates addicted to their cell phones.

Mandy Moran Froemming
Mandy Moran Froemming

The young women went on a two-week digital detox – no cell phones, no Twitter no Google, no GPS navigation.

These girls are connected non-stop – one missed over 100 text messages after not checking her phone for 45 minutes.

Their face to face friendships were suffering as they felt compelled to focus on sharing every bit of their lives online.

I was interested because I had just disconnected for a full week myself.

In no way do I compare to the kind of use the girls on the program.

But it doesn’t take me long to itch to check what’s happening on Facebook or wonder what’s sitting in my inbox.

Over the holidays we spent seven days in Canada. My dad lives on a beautiful quarter section of woods close to the North Dakota border.

Cell service is sketchy, particularly if you use a 4G phone, and he doesn’t have Internet access at home.

So there was no dinging of emails and I got the rare text message when we went to town for groceries.

No Facebook. No Pinterest. No blogs. The iPad didn’t get opened for a full week.

It was wonderful.

To catch up on what was going on, I met a friend in town for coffee and got to reconnect with many familiar faces.

I was able to congratulate another friend in person on her pregnancy, rather than with the standard Facebook “like.”

Despite the bronchitis that has been nagging me for more than a month, I got out several times on my new cross country skis, trying to keep up with my dad on the trails that crisscross his property.

I played with my nephew, watched the World Junior Hockey Tournament with my brother and swapped motherhood stories with my sister-in-law.

We watched the deer and the turkeys through the picture window, hoping to catch a glance at a big buck or an elk.

I got to be amazed at my 19-month-old’s instant love for his Papa’s ponies in the pasture, knowing most of them by name at the end of the week.

And how he loved to climb up on the hay bales and pet the barn cats.

Despite the slower pace, the days flew by. Even though we were all sick and sometimes crabby, we found our rhythm. Too soon it was time to head home to the city.

There was no doubt I felt less distracted, more tuned into my life and my mind was a lot less cluttered.

As a person who loves to learn about anything and everything, the Internet can be overwhelming.

Once we were home, settled in our familiar space doing our familiar things, my husband and I were having a conversation about the challenges of keeping up around the house while working odd schedules and parenting a toddler, and how hard it seems to be to make time to do some of the things we really enjoy.

He gently reminded me that I can easily get lost for hours online in the evening, spending time scrolling through pages and pages of pins of meals I’ll never cook, crafts I’ll never make and outfits I will never buy.

It might be my favorite way of zoning out, but I’m not sure it’s doing me any favors.

So my New Year’s resolution is to cut down on all that mental clutter find a more productive way to recharge.

Here’s to a 2013 with a lot less screen time.