The importance of being plugged in…or not…

It’s rather flippant for us tech-tethered folks to blithely toss the term “addicted” around when it comes to our IPhones and email.  Addiction is a serious business, as anyone who’s ever had a drug or alcohol addict in their life can attest, and us whiners need to remember that. 

Still, I can’t help but marvel at what days like today reveal to me.  Today I was physically unable to check my work email, for the simple reason that our passwords change (every two weeks, it feels like) from time to time, and when you don’t change it manually, the system blocks you out of the server.  Thus, no email.  Cue the shaking and sweating….er…sorry.  See my previous paragraph. 

I was chatting with a colleague last night and pontificating about how important it is for us to unplug sometimes, how it helps us set boundaries and keep our rapidly dwindling sanity from escaping our overwhelmed brains.  It probably sounded pompous at the time (it does now), but after today, I’ve got to at least admit there’s some truth to it.  At least 3 times today, I pondered if I should drive into the office just so I could change my password and get email access back up again.  Each time, I had to mentally smack myself upside the head and punish myself by mopping the floor or doing laundry (my house is spic and span, now – nice bonus).  I mean, seriously.  What could possibly be so vital in my job that I can’t wait to get to it tomorrow, you know, when I’m actually working?  What is wrong with all of us that we think we are so darn important that we must respond immediately (or demand response) to any stimulus?

The last time I unplugged from email for more than a day was probably when I went to Colorado this past summer, where the only reason I wasn’t plugged in was because, well, I was in the frickin’ Rocky Mountains and, thank god, there were no satellites nearby.   I felt, coming home, like I do now: rested, peaceful, calm, skinny, pretty. Not angry.  Not discontent.  Not anxious about how I look or what I ate.  Just…like myself, a content version of myself.

Tonight’s great insight that is that we make it a lot harder to be happy than it should be.  It should not take a server block to get me to not open my work email for a day.  We all should be a lot happier about our lot in life; most of us have food, shelter, family and some people even have the love of their lives to share it with.   So why are we so angry all the time (and I’m not just talking about pundits on TV.  Think how many times in the last week you’ve posted something on social media about how frustrated/angry/grumpy/pissed you were.  Or, if you’re not on social media, written a letter to the editor expressing anger about something.  I read the papers every morning.  I read those letters.  They are just like social media, only printed.)?  Could it be because we think that our IPhones, TV’s, computers and our incessant need to be connected (and heard), somehow should make us more important, and thus happier? 

I’ve got news for us.  I couldn’t have felt less important today.  To be honest, no one in the world really cared that I was doing whatever I was doing today.  And it felt great. 

And tomorrow, I plug back in.  I’ll be honest, I’m dreading it.  Not because of the work; I love my work.  But I happen to know that I will probably have 40-50 emails that came in today alone, and I’ll receive 100+ more over the course of the day.

What a vicious cycle.  Maybe someday we’ll snap out of it.  In any case, happy Daylight Savings, y’all.  If you’re one of those lunatics…er…morning people, enjoy the earlier mornings.  If you’re a 9-5er, enjoy the longer days that mean you can actually have 1-2 hours of sunlight after your day is over.  Either way, it’s time to greet a new week.  IPhones in hand, we march on. 

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