DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Nov 18 2016

UnPlug for the Holidays

by Camille B

happy-holidays-2The holidays are quickly approaching, and so too is the time spent connecting with family and friends; some we probably haven’t seen all year. It is also the time of year when we come together to share meals, fun, laughter and just being thankful to have each other.

But how attainable is the goal of quality family time in this busy, always connected world that we live in where unplugging and powering-down is almost impossible for just about everyone you know?

Now before you sigh and begin turning your attention elsewhere, believing this to be just another blog about the ills of modern technology, I assure you that it is not. This is more about the issue of time- how little of it we have- and how important it is to savor the very best moments of it, spent with the people in our lives who matter the most.

Unplugging ourselves from the things in our lives that keep us so focused and preoccupied would definitely take some effort for many. It might be a huge effort depending on how attached you are to technology in the first place.

Are you merely a casual user, routinely checking and keeping up with calls and messages as you go about your daily life? Or do you freak out when you think you’ve missed a text, always set like a cobra to jump at every alerting bleep or ring? This obsession leads to distraction which leads to the disconnect with the people around us, since our focus is only for what’s on the screen at that moment and nothing else.

Remember the ad on TV where the kids are so preoccupied with their iPhones that they have no idea what’s going on around them? Not even when there parents are replaced? It’s worth watching.

I have to say it was a little bit funny, somewhat troubling, and so very true of how caught up we are with our gadgets and devices. I honestly believe that there is no better time than the holidays for us to make that effort to unplug and power-down so we can really have quality time with family and friends.

I know, I know, just thinking about turning off your phone for more than half an hour makes your throat go dry and gives you the restless feeling of a chain smoker out of cigarettes, but wouldn’t it be worth it? Wouldn’t it be worth it to really listen to what Grandma has to say this year? Instead of taking a selfie with the cat while she’s talking and then calling her a few months later to ask for the banana bread recipe again. No more missing the moment because you were capturing the moment.

There are some of us who, because of work or other circumstances beyond our control have to keep our phones close to us and powered up at all times, but even then we can still turn off all the extras. There are apps that would allow you to block out social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for a period of time, so you won’t even be tempted to go on there to look. The urge to check will be strong, and you’d probably lose the battle every time.

And for those of us who can’t ignore those beeps and chirps that alert us to messages received, maybe we can put our phones on silent for an hour or two, so the lure of those sounds won’t cause us to cave.

Even try it with the kids who never, ever seem to power off of anything. They’re forever texting on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or doing something else that requires their full attention to a screen.

Believe me they’re not going to be too happy about it, especially if their precious device is the one thing that keeps them from having to make awkward conversation with family members they don’t know that well.

But hopefully, when they realize it’s not forever and the reason behind you doing it is not simply because you’re pure evil, but for them to form healthy family bonds and learn how to better interact with others face to face, they’ll come around.

So I challenge you, and I challenge myself as well, to let the holidays this year not simply be about great food and a few extra days off work, but also about taking a much needed break from all of our daily devices and distractions so that we can truly relax, breathe and be with those we care about. Believe me we need it, and so do our families.

Here is a perfect resource in our catalog with ideas for “unplugged” play and activities for your family:

ply

 

Unplugged Play: No batteries, no plugs, pure fun by Bobbi Connor.

 

 

 

Below are some interesting links on the topic that were very helpful:

http://techland.time.com/2013/12/20/shut-it-down-a-digital-detox-plan-for-the-holidays/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-digital-family/201012/12-ways-unplug-the-holidays?destination=node/52163

 

 

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dea Anne M. November 23, 2016 at 1:48 PM

Great and timely post, Camille! I certainly intend to do this and, actually, already have to a large degree. Unplugging form time to time can truly make huge difference. Thanks again for a beautifully written piece.

Camille November 26, 2016 at 5:15 PM

Thanks Dea Anne.

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