Determine a significant amount of time to unplug yourself from internet access to give yourself the time to reflect on how that affects your daily habits. The amount of time should be significant based on your online habits. If you are online on a daily basis, consider going without access. The point is to make yourself feel uncomfortable. Tell us your story and reflect on your experience. How long could you go without giving in? What did you miss? What was a relief to miss? Did you put yourself in a situation where you could have internet access but chose not to?
I recently took some time off and found myself in a situation where I would be without internet access for an extended period. I haven’t been in this situation for more than maybe 3 days in the past for probably 10 years, maybe more. For this assignment, the goal was to be away for 7 days and actually be physically away from any kind of internet or data connection. I cheated.
First off, it wasn’t completely my fault. As a safety precaution, I purchased a Delorme InReach Satellite phone so we could let a few specific people know where we were in case we didn’t return when we thought we would, and to have some kind of idea where we might actually be during a 7-day period.
I set up the phone so that I could send a “preset” email message and I tried it out with my husband before leaving town and it worked just fine. We added our “rescue” team and at the last minute, a couple of the team members wanted to receive the message by text. This actually made a lot of sense since so I quickly tested it with my phone and it worked.
Night 1: Preset message sent – no replies from our team
Night 2: Preset message sent – no replies from our team
Day 3 Morning: the doubting began…did the messages go through? Was it set up wrong? Is anyone try to reply with their own message and we aren’t getting it? Hello…is there anybody out there?
Day 3 Afternoon: one of my traveling partners forgot to put her phone on airplane mode and she suddenly receives a text message. Immediately, there was the temptation to check my phone too. It was too strong, the temptation, that is. And so was the signal. Five bars in the middle of Icy Strait. So a quick text to one of the team members to confirm that the preset messages were getting out. Confirmation was received but they didn’t know how to respond. So here I am giving tech-support through text messages to explain how to send a reply in the middle of the ocean.
Night 3: Preset message sent – a couple of replies are received. Relief.
The trip continued.
I didn’t count on having internet access in a couple of places that we visited. I will admit that I did scan through emails twice in three days, just looking to make sure nothing urgent came up. I only had about 80 that are filtered out by importance and I think I replied to one or two. At this point, even though I had internet access, I didn’t want to run my battery down so the phone went back on airplane mode immediately after a quick check.
I got back to town after being gone and still had a few days before I needed to be attentive to my online presence and I’m happy to say that even though I could get online, I chose not to. I didn’t even download the pictures I had taken.
I’m not saying that my online habits will change because of this time away. I expect to find myself right back at it. I will say that I hope not to feel as guilty about not immediately responding.
One thing about the Delorme InReach phone is that you can connect your messaging to Facebook and Twitter. While I don’t plan on linking my whereabouts to either of these social media, I can see how some might find it useful and informative.