Reflection on being Unplugged – Wingit!

Assignment

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?

 

My Submission

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.

The Destination:

 

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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.

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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.

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Score: pass

3 comments

  1. Wow – that is a great compliment! Thanks, Chris!

    What did I miss? What was a relief to miss?

    I think it was the same thing. When I know I have connectivity, there is sometimes pressure to document and share what I’m doing, especially when the weather is so fantastic. Although it usually doesn’t take long to set up and take a picture, it does take longer to annotate and add text to put the image into perspective or to share the experience. I have had occasions when this additional investment begins to take away from the experience because I’m focusing on the technology and sending the message rather than just living in the moment. I also know from experience, that making plans to post and annotate upon returning has a high probability that it won’t actually happen. Returning, whether it is just a few hours or a few weeks, always has other priorities that get in the way.

    On the other hand, I like being able to share with my family and friends what I’m doing and experiencing. I feel good when images I post on Facebook get liked or someone makes a comment. I think because we were able to let certain people know where we were each day, and once we confirmed it was working, it helped knowing that I was still communicating in a small way.

    After years of being close to a phone in case of an emergency for an aging parent, it has taken time to train myself that it is ok to be away and unconnected. And of course, it helps if those closest to me are also with me.

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