I have a real love hate relationship with cell phone usage and social media. I could seriously rant about this for days, but I’ll keep it short(ish).
As a teenager, I was fooled into thinking that I needed to look cool online in order to be cool in real life. False, and being cool is overrated anyways. As Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter came around in later years I learned to stop trying so hard. Social media is an illusion. People post the best pictures of the best moments, which is what, like 2% of their lives? Then the other 98%, the messy and mundane, goes hidden. And we judge people’s lives, and our own, based on that unrealistic 2%. Researchers have actually found that 1 in 3 people feel worse about themselves and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting social media. This is a thing, y’all.
I’ve also learned how important it is to be present. That means putting away your phone when you’re spending time with your loved ones. When I’m sitting at dinner with my friends my phone is zipped up in my purse, because these people who I planned my evening around are infinitely better than anything that’s happening on Facebook.
So, when I travel I choose to go mostly unplugged. I have never purchased an international cellular plan while traveling abroad, and you know what? It’s kind of the best. I figure that I pay a sizable chunk of my income on my trips, I want to get the best experience possible. One of the easiest ways for me to achieve this is by unplugging.
I set some guidelines and reminders for myself:
- I can have my phone with me and use it to listen to music or take photos when I’m not using my DSLR camera, but I can’t use it to text, call, check email, or use social media (not that I’d be able to because, again, no international cellular plan)
- I won’t use wifi to access my phone’s “connected” functionalities unless it’s the beginning or end of my day.
- I will only use wifi if I am somewhere where it is advertised, I can’t go asking around to cafes and places seeking wifi (unless I’m hopelessly lost and need it to access Google Maps or something)
- I will be more “in the moment” instead of feeling the need to Snapchat everything I see and/or Facebook check in everywhere I go (not that I really want to but you get the point)
- Life, in its best form, is happening right in front of you. Don’t put a screen between you and these sights, experiences, and interactions.
- I spent money to see these amazing sights, NOT my phone screen. I see that thing every day at home, it has too much airtime as it is, I will not give it more while I am traveling.
- Sometimes solitude is good. I know that some may feel lonely being unplugged and (temporarily) out of contact with their loved ones, but sometimes solitude is good. And come on, it’s only for a few hours every day.
So the next time you travel, or maybe even just the next time you have a day off, unplug. Give your mind and soul a rest. Have some me-time. Stay balanced. Remember all those years before cell phones became like appendages to us? We got along just fine, didn’t we? I promise it’s the same way now in 2016.
Happy wanderlusting, friends.