LIFE

Confession: I Fantasize About Giving Up Technology

by Lisa Sugarman
Lisa writes the nationally syndicated column "It Is What It Is" and is the author of Untying Parent Anxiety.

I have to be honest, sometimes the idea of being Amish really appeals to me. The idea of giving up all the electronics that occupy and distract us every waking minute of the day is oddly appealing, even though I know that a lot of those devices make our lives easier. Or do they?

In the world we live in right now, there’s an awful lot to be said for living the simple life. Because the life most of us live right now is far from simple. We’re almost always connected to something that takes our attention away from the real things and the real people around us. The problem is, how do we get away from all of it? Or at least enough of it to make a difference.

Unless I uproot my entire family, sell our house, move completely off the grid, and abandon all forms of modern electronics, it’s just not happening. And I think it’s the same for most people.

I’ve been hypersensitive lately to how much I depend on all the devices in my life and I’m feeling like I need to take a step back. And, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I keep circling back to the Amish. Because I think they might be onto something with this resisting modern conveniences thing. It’s kind of a neat idea that if you can’t grow it, sew it, or make it you just don’t have it. So simple, right?

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Can we say that the quality of their lives is better or worse because they don’t have Smartphones or Wifi? I honestly don’t know. I’m sure the Amish would be going over their monthly texting allowance too, if they had the chance. But they don’t. I guess you don’t miss what you never had.

Regardless, I’m actually jealous that there are people out there living without Instagram accounts and Netflix. I’m not saying I’m committed to selling my house and moving to Pennsylvania Dutch country, I just feel like technology intrudes a little too far into our lives. 

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denouncing all these sexy little devices that let us respond to emails in the check-out aisle, because I appreciate the convenience for sure. There just doesn’t seem to be a place anymore that we can go to get far enough offline on a regular basis. And I miss being offline.

Ok, sure, most of what I’m talking about has a lot to do with self-regulation. And we can obviously choose to limit ourselves and unplug sometimes. We are grown-ups, after all. But a lot of what we’re consumed by everyday isn’t within our control to regulate.

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We have jobs and relationships and commitments that require constant online interaction with other people. And we’ve got to respond, in a timely way, to all the emails and texts and posts we get throughout the course of the day just to avoid getting buried or stressed or missing something crucial.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like we could all benefit by rolling things back to a time when people depended on actual face-to-face communication or trips from the couch to the TV and back to the couch to change the channel. Back to when fans at concerts lit Bic lighters for an encore instead of holding up their cell phones.

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Back to a day when we wrote someone a handwritten thank-you note for a gift instead of sending a text.

Because honestly, there isn’t a lot of charm or genuine sentiment in doing things the tech way every time. We’re missing something, don’t you think? Everything’s just so automated and hot-wired that there’s no such thing as doing stuff the old-fashioned way anymore.

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I’m conflicted, I’ll admit it. Because I really do understand technology’s usefulness, like in medicine, education, banking and communication. And God knows, as a mom, I value it for connectivity and safety. I’d never give up being able to stay connected with my kids 24/7. I just worry that with everyone plugged into a different device we’re not connecting enough with each other anymore.

I’m not saying we should bury all our devices in a landfill, I’m just saying that I think we could all benefit from deliberately unplugging every once in awhile just so we can remember what thinking and doing for ourselves feels like. And if we do it often enough, we may just get addicted to the real sights and sounds and smells and nuances of the real world again.

And wouldn’t that be something?

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Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at lisasugarman.comOr, find them on LittleThings.comHot Moms ClubBeingAMom.lifeGrownandFlown.comMamalode, More Content Now, and Care.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and at select bookstores.