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Ditching Digital

Sometimes we all need a little nudge in the right direction. A venue enforcing a No Cellphone policy was just what I needed to reconnect and thoroughly enjoy the event I was attending. Maybe you too, can take the challenge to swap your digital connection for real time connections with those around you.

“It's not a faith in technology. It's faith in people.” Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple.

I recently attended a sporting event that did not allow patrons to bring their cellphones inside with them. I believe the rationale was that the phones, and people taking pictures and/or video could be disruptive to the concentration of the athletes involved in the competition. For the first hour of the event, I must admit that I felt somewhat anxious as to not having my phone with me, or more accurately, not a part of me. I was utterly amazed as to how out of my element I was feeling with not being able to check email, send texts, or digitally connect with others in my life in some way using my phone. As the day went on, a strange occurrence took place. I was looking up and looking at those around me, making eye contact with them, and even conversing with them regarding the athletes we were watching, the sport itself, or the gorgeous natural surroundings we were all experiencing together that day. My husband and I were talking with one another, laughing, and experiencing life through the natural lens of times past. It was incredible and refreshing! Knowing what I know about how our brains work, I know we all were experiencing ongoing releases of dopamine and endorphins (neurotransmitters responsible for us feeling good) due to the connections we were all making with one another. Heads were held high (not looking down at a phone screen) when questions were being asked about the players and their scores, when greeting those working the event, and when small talk was being had with others who share the love of the sport that we were all there to see. All of this took me back to a time before smart phones in which we communicated and connected with others in much simpler and purer ways. We actually enjoyed being with others for the things we would learn from our conversations. And we strengthened important relationships by purposely and intentionally attending to one another and the feelings that we all experience as humans. Families spoke to each other while having meals instead of staring down at a screen while eating with those that they love all around them. We were connected in a way that made us more resilient to stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. I am not writing this to bash the makers of smart phones, but I felt compelled to share my experience from my day without my phone. Due to this experience, I have vowed to purposely be without my phone at times and focus and attend to all things and people around me. I know the break from the digital world is healthy for my brain and the relationships with those I love. I would challenge and encourage all to experiment with this and see what real connections you discover while disconnecting from the digital world around us. The digital world will be there waiting, while your loved ones and the relationships with them may not.

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