Unplugged

When was the last time you unplugged?

I saw a commercial the other day that evoked some strong emotions from the pit of my being, which I can’t usually say after watching a commercial. Ironically, I can’t recall which commercial it was, and several of those I’ve seen recently have had a similar impact on me. When did we become so wired that being wired would seem so normal?

The product was an incredible one, I’m sure; I remember thinking how convenient the service would be if I were X (oh yes, I remember now; but I still won’t tell you, because I don’t think there’s any need to rip on a product as cool as this). But it brought to the tip of my brain the one thought I’ve been avoiding for the last fifteen years as the internet/cell phone/totally-accessible-all-of-the-time-my-car-can-drive-itself-so-what’s-the-point-in-knowing-how-to-parallel-park age has exploded around me: We have created a world wherein we can totally detach from one another. Instead of being who we are, we create a persona–a virtual self–and it takes our place in education, in debate, in politics, in relationships. In almost every aspect of our lives, now, we are so connected that we can afford to disconnect.

Isn’t that strange?

An example: For several years, I’ve visited (sometimes regularly, sometimes not) a Christian chat room. It has been a blessing and a curse. One of the blessings is that I’ve made incredible friendships with some intelligent people who are interested in some of the same topics within Christianity that I am interested in. One of the curses, I’ve learned, is that it sometimes “feels” like community, so it has been easy for me to not commit to Christians in my face-to-face life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard folks in that chat room say they don’t go to church on Sunday; the chat room is their church. We are so connected that we disconnect.

I’m not saying this is true of everybody, or that it is true in every circumstance. I do think it is a growing phenomenon, however. I see it evolving even in my life–me, who hardly answers her cell phone (that’s right, everyone, I’ve confessed: I typically silence your calls; it’s not that I don’t like you [I do] and it’s not that I don’t want to talk [I do], but I really just hate being accessible all of the time [truly, I do]).

The past few days, I’ve been bombarded with a nasty stomach virus. I thought (and wished) it might kill me. It was quite honestly that bad. But it allowed me one incredible freedom: I unplugged. My phone was turned off. My music was turned off. My computer was turned off.

In spite of how awful it was, it was wonderful to be silent. It was wonderful to be alone. In a world that demands that we always connect, I’m just here today to challenge you to unplug for a day. Or two. Or, if you’re really brave, a week. Spend some time with pen and paper, rather than blogs and tweets (she says in her blog); read a book with a dustcover jacket (remember those?) instead of on your Kindle; turn off the television and talk with the people in your home; unplug your guitar and sing quietly just for the sake of intimacy with Christ. No amps; no apps; no you tube videos; no tweets; no IMs; no text messages. Just unplug. Turn it all off.

I think we need that silence once in awhile, to disconnect from the world and reconnect with the true things in life: Family, friends, faith, and most importantly, the Light that has come into the world.

Pax Domini.

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9 thoughts on “Unplugged

      • Actually it has been a very busy and stressful year. When the weather is nice I really don’t want to sit at a computer but would rather garden, do projects, and not work on cars (but I had too). It’s been a while since I fully unplugged and may take your advise, but I’m not obsessively plugged in either.

        You missed me? Wow. I was just glad you remembered me. Thanks.

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Actually, I’ve spent the better part of my recent life “unplugged”. I don’t “twitter”, I have no Facebook account, I seldom watch television (When I do, it’s usually “The History Channel”, “Educational Stuff”, “Fox News”) because we don’t have cable, satellite, or any digital hook-up. Since I am introverted, I really have no desire to go anywhere. I avoid talking on the phone (personal reasons), I don’t own a cell phone (though I have one for work), and my email address book is quite short. I go where I have to and do what I have to for the sake of family obligations, and even then, it is done amid some protest when I feel my presence is not particularly important. Most of my contacts are at work, at church, and/ or on the internet, where I am a type of “virtual” person (I try to present myself in the most honest way, but even then, only God can judge for sure!).

    In the past, my world has imploded upon me, and, as with an overloaded electrical circuit, I would begin to unplug everything except the basic stuff. This would leave me isolated from all but work and (maybe) church to allow me to “lick my wounds” and allow them to heal. Right now, I am battling against such things happening in my life since I have a family to be mindful of. And, even though my family also is playing a part in this impending “overload”, I must take care as to not unplug from them- which is, outside of God’s grace and strength, impossible. And that is where things lie- very much in stasis.

    I’m sorry, Sarah, that, in all my confusion, I’m not sure if I replied to your last email to me. Please let me know, because I do want to be helpful in any matter big or small. Also within that same confusion, I forgot to wish you a “Happy Birthday”. I sincerely hope that it was. God bless!

    Shalom!
    -Steve

    • Steve,

      Your words always provoke thought on this end. I think you and I are more alike than not. Sometimes I even feel deceitful using words like “introverted,” because I’m not half as social as any of the other introverts I know!

      It is so important that you unplug, though, Steve–not just virtually (of which, by your description, there seems not much to unplug from), but emotionally, spiritually, and physically. If you don’t find that solace, that rest that revives your spirit, then you cannot be the minister to your family and friends that God has created you to be.

      So…how to do it? I’m not sure I can answer that for you. But I pray you’re finding the answer a little bit more each day.

      In regards to email, don’t ever trouble yourself about that. I don’t think you replied, but…I worked it out just fine after a few days of red-penning. And thank you, sincerely, for the birthday wish. It was an uneventful but joyous occasion for me this time around.

      Praying God’s peace to your life, your heart, your family, and your soul!

      Pax!
      Sarah

  2. Have you considered that sometimes society needs to “unplug” from things other than technology?

    There are non-technological things that people become plugged into that hinder his/her relationships with the “face-to-face” people that one encounters.

    The only example I can think of that explains this properly is Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS. (Sarah, don’t yell at me for using Gibbs as an example….or Gibbs slap me…please!)

    He goes home, works on a boat, doesn’t answer his phone(s) and generally keeps to himself. BUT if he would consider going out for a drink with his co-workers rather than working on his boat, then he’d be building on his relationships.

    Granted there are reasons why Gibbs does what he does, but he worked as an example.

    I think people get caught up in their obsessions or “guilty pleasures” that they forget about spending time with people around them and I mean really spend time with others.

    Or hide behind one’s shyness and uncertainity about hanging out with others that WANT to spend time with you. I’m guilty of this….I don’t know how many times I’ve turned co-workers down when invited to a gathering.

    Hope you are feeling better!
    *hugs*

  3. I just shared this on Facebook (yeah, I’m plugged). I loved this. Seriously, so many online outlets have raised a generation of people who just don’t have actual relational or social skills.

  4. Hi Sarah (Wherever you are!? ;-)

    When you unplug you “really” unplug! I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. And….well,….maybe I should also wish you a Happy New Year now, because you may still be unplugged until then. I do hope and pray that this is a good thing- becoming unplugged- because I’m growing a little concerned. May God shower His richest blessings on you and your family during this special time!

    Shalom!!!

    “Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus!”

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