Unplugged diary

unplugged w border8/10/16.  Day 10.  

Last night at the end of group they asked me how the experiment was going. 

Not as planned, I told them. 

I said I hadn’t unplugged from texting because my family denied me permission, which turned out to be a good thing when Callie had to go to the ER, but which denied me the feeling of spaciousness I’d hoped for with total unplugging.  

I said I did notice I don’t miss social media at all, despite all the hours I used to spend there. 

I said I notice I have more time to read, and patience for more demanding material than the mysteries I usually stick to. 

I said I’m reading a lot about technology, and one book in particular caught my attention with the sentence “Technology is basically an attempt to control everything.” 

I said I also realized that we are vulnerable to abusing technology because we’re so scared of people – that we use it to reduce the risks and anxieties that go with relationships, and that the more limited we are in our emotional abilities the more likely we’ll depend too much on texting and email and online “friendships” and gaming and virtual realities.  

I didn’t tell them about my ongoing insomnia, which prompted the unplugging to begin with, or how I’m still unsure if overstimulation is what caused it. 

I didn’t tell them about my casual relapses into ordering books online or at the library or sending the odd email or registering for CBS All Access. 

I didn’t tell them how easy it’s been – and how embarrassing — to slip back into those old habits, how boredom or restlessness seem to be the worst triggers, and how much unplugging — like dieting – depends on my mood or capacity for discipline on a particular day.      


unplugged w border8/11/16.  Day 11.

First good night’s sleep since unplugging.  Fell asleep around midnight without meds.  Woke to pee at 4:30, some delay in falling back, but then slept until past 7:30.  Not sure why.  Hoping this is over.

Thinking of doubling my efforts to abstain.  Thought I left my phone at work last night, and was both frustrated and relieved to be unable to check it.  (Someone found it and left it for me in the kitchen this morning.) 

I can’t stay off the computer entirely – work requires it – but I can certainly stay offline.  And the phone, I need to find a way to decrease my exposure to the phone, which is too much of a temptation. 

Turn it off and check it only at, say, 4-hour intervals? 

But what if Chris needs to reach me?

Reading Sherry Turkle* now about the multiple psychological impacts of a “tethered” lifestyle. 

This constant connection really feels like a capacity which grew into a need and then into an addiction. 

Hard to tell where the need leaves off and the addiction begins.


*Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other.  (Basic Books, 2011.)   


3 responses to “Unplugged diary

  • Pam

    They do still make non-smartphones. You can still send & receive basic texts, but no Internet. That would eliminate the temptation to look at social media on your phone.

    • Steve Hauptman

      Thanks, Pam. But it’s not social media that tempts me. It’s the subtler and more pervasive problem of the “tethered” lifestyle — being constantly connected to others, or at least available for connection. It’s that tethering which keeps me wondering if I missed anything since I last checked my iphone, and leads me to keep checking the damn thing automatically and compulsively.

  • Kathleen

    Your experiment is very bold and very Thoreau. In lieu of retreating to the woods to meet the essence of life, you unplugged from the grid.

    Thanks for sharing your observations, insights and struggles with total honesty. I imagine that just about everyone can identify with at least some of what you shared. Maybe some of us will even conduct our own experiments….

    Technology can bring people closer together or it can be a buffer to true intimacy. It all depends on how it is used (or not used)

    Since the phone seems to be your biggest temptation/burden, perhaps you can limit your checking to once an hour. Most things in life can wait an hour!

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