How often do you disconnect from your devices?


This weekend is Memorial Day weekend in the United States, which means Monday is a holiday, and for many people out there they don’t have to go back to work until Tuesday. Having an extended break makes it a little easier for mini vacations, allowing folks to “get away from it all,” or simply just go experience something new and exciting away from home for a little while.

I’ve seen quite a few of my friends announce that they’re headed somewhere, with the majority of them pointing to camping spots. I don’t know about them, but the weather here is certainly nice enough that camping seems like a great idea, so I don’t blame them. It’s great to get out there into the wilderness, if that’s your sort of thing.

A few of them have even been posting a ton of pictures, showcasing their outdoors living space for how ever long they’ll be there. I’ve seen camp fires, tents, trees, lakes, and mountains, all in less than a day’s time. It’s only Saturday but a lot of these people are already out there off the beaten trail — even if they’re still clinging to that cellular signal.

And I’ll be honest, that was my first thought with plenty of the photos I saw: How on earth do you have service? Obviously some of those people might not actually be all that far away from civilization, their surroundings just might make it look like they are, so maybe it’s not all that surprising the service is still obtainable.

Which is why I moved on to another question: Why are you still on your phone?

Don’t get me wrong, I take pictures. A lot of pictures, in fact, especially when I’m going on trips. I love capturing the landscape and wilderness when I can. But, more often than not, when I’m out there I try to disconnect as much as I can. I don’t turn my phone off, simply because I don’t want to have to deal with that just in case something happens, but Airplane Mode is definitely activated.

There is something intoxicating about sharing your status, though. We’ve seen that morph into different methods over the years, from the standard Facebook status update to Snapchat updates, and let’s not forget Instagram shares of your food, and that extends to sharing beautiful things that you might see when you’re out there in the great outdoors. Which I completely get! I do it, too, sometimes.

When I see a campsite, like I’ve seen so many times in the last several hours, sitting there in front of the fire, s’mores in hand, the last thing I want to think about is my cell phone or tablet. I’m in front of that stuff all day, every day, so if I’m taking a vacation I want one from those gadgets, too.

I spoke to one of my friends, who’s not only taking advantage of the long weekend but also celebrating his birthday, too, while on a camping trip, and asked him why he was still on his phone. He said he wanted to talk to us (a group chat), but me, and a pair of others in the room, told him to shut his phone off and enjoy the weekend, and the company.

He fought for a few moments, but then he eventually said that we were right, and I haven’t heard from him since. I hope he’s getting a ton of stories out there, and maybe he’s still taking pictures, too, and I’m excited to hear and see those things! But I can wait until he gets back on Tuesday.

I’m not someone that’s going to lecture another person on why they shouldn’t be taking photos of their surroundings. All those posts about how parents should just watch their kids do things, or how we should just take in sights for ourselves, are great in their message, but the truth is I can do both. I imagine everyone can. It’s up to us how we enjoy and experience things, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to take photos and videos of the things I have in the past. I remember the events, and when I see the images I’ve got those memories bolstered by what’s in front of my eyes, too.

Still, a vacation from technology isn’t a bad thing, either. There’s a difference between experiencing a Bald Eagle flying in front of a gorgeous landscape setting and taking a picture of it, versus having your eyes buried in a group chat that’s not talking about anything nearly as exciting.

But seeing these folks talk about how they’re going on vacations, and some of them even saying they’ll talk to people in a few days, got me thinking about how often all of you disconnect. On long weekends like this, or summer vacation, or whatever else might give you some extended free time away from the Daily Grind, do you ever just disconnect from technology? Let me know!