Posted July 2, 2012 by Erin Morrell 

Taking a Quick Break from Technology

I recently went to visit family friends with my mom. While we were visiting them at their home in New Hampshire, there wasn’t very good cell phone service. I knew this ahead of time since we had visited in the past. Once we arrived, the fact that I couldn’t really use my phone didn’t even bother me. I went the entire weekend without checking my email, tweeting, or logging into Facebook. I also didn’t receive text messages/phone calls unless we went outside or we went into town to shop or eat.

It was a very freeing experience. Sometimes I think that I need to be near my phone for absolutely ridiculous reasons—I may miss a call or text that I can’t live without, or someone may tweet me who needs a response right away. The truth is that if I was at work or in a meeting, I wouldn’t respond immediately all the time anyway.

My family is interesting in that my brother and I have our phones with us pretty much 24/7, while my mom rarely checks hers unless she goes to use it. My dad uses his regularly, but isn’t a fanatic about it. My other relatives vary. Some people have smartphones while others don’t even own a cell phone. And then you have my 84-year-old grandmother who doesn’t own a cell phone but has an iPad and uses it constantly.

This weekend without technology made me think about how different life is now with cell phones and technology being so prominent as opposed to when I was younger. I didn’t even get a cell phone until I was halfway through my senior year of college, and it was only for emergencies.

Sometimes I get frustrated with my students because they will be constantly using their phones during meetings and events or even when they are just visiting my office, but I have come to realize that it is part of our culture. Just because it’s accepted as a part of our everyday lives, doesn’t mean you can’t ask a student to silence it or place it in their bag while you talk. It can be distracting and nothing is that urgent that can’t wait five minutes.

Overall, my quick break from technology showed me that I have more meaningful and deeper conversations when I’m not checking my phone all the time, as well as I can rely on other people and perhaps watch the TV, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper for information—such as the breaking news that Kevin Youkilis was being traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox. While important new for a Red Sox fan, I didn’t have to check Twitter, Facebook, or the ESPN app to hear about it. Technology is great, but it’s also nice to step back and enjoy each other’s company sometimes.

Do you take regular breaks from technology? If so, how does it feel?

Erin Morrell

Erin Morrell is the Associate Dean for Campus Activities & Orientation at Albertus Magnus College.

Erin has responsibilities in advising student organizations, including the programming board and student government, and supervising department student employees. She oversees the Albertus@Night late night programming series, and serves as the Director of New Student Orientation.

Comments

This article echoed a similar sentiment: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/the-irl-fetish/ Interesting thoughts Erin!
Jeff Pelletier
pelletier.12@osu.edu
Comment posted 07/03/2012 8:34 PM
Thanks for sharing that article Jeff!
Comment posted 07/04/2012 11:15 AM
I take it from some recent themes in The Commons that many of our members have officially entered their "need a break" season :) I credit this pointer to my colleague Tim Arth. On some leisure trips this year, I have just simply turned all email off on my phone. Yes, it seems incredibly obvious, but because I use my smartphone to manage my life (not only to stay connected), I had been refusing to turn it off or put it away completely. So that one step allowed me to still use GPS/maps, take pictures, get tips for local restaurants, Google random facts, check my calendar to make future plans, etc., but avoided the pressure to catch up on email every time I got a notification. I was actually really surprised by how much this helped me escape distraction and stay in the moment, while still using features of my mobile devices that really can add value.
Justin Rudisille
jrudisil@acui.org
Comment posted 07/05/2012 12:13 AM
I couldn't agree with you more. It is sad that sometimes we are dependent on a weak "tower" or "signal" to feel like it is okay to walk away from our "smart phones". I will admit that I still bring the technology along, but I do try to limit myself to responding to emails only about once a day if needed. Sometimes we cannot walk away, but I/we can do a better job limiting how often I/we "check in" if we can. What is important is to realize and accept is that if we have really done our jobs well, there is someone back in the office who can/should be able to answer those questions and emails while we are away for what little time we give ourselves to take vacation. Great post!
Comment posted 07/09/2012 8:59 AM
I couldn't agree with you more! When I go visit my husband's family, there are only certain places were you can get a cell signal. And forget internet!!! It is the most amazing thing.
Amanda Bryson
brysonmc@cofc.edu
Comment posted 07/09/2012 10:40 AM
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