What My 4-Days Away From Technology Taught Me

By Christina Kim - October 30, 2014

My 4-Days Break/Challenge – Without Technology

I recently took a short break (a much-needed one, I may say) away from work, and life, in general to escape to one of my favorite hideouts of all time(it’s my secret hideaway) where I enjoyed time away from the world and my daily lists and just, pretty much do nothing at all.
Don’t judge, those are what Breaks, and vacations are ALL about.
I probably need to learn a lot more about terms like, “Doing nothing at all”, “Relax”, “Breakaway”, and all that is to do with taking a deep breath and just enjoy life. 
Oh dart, that’s the word, “Enjoy”.
The thing is, I have a lot on my mind (terms like worry, anxiety, stress rhymes and synonyms with the things clouding me most of the time) and I never really thought it was a problem, well, until, that is, age started to bug the living daylights out of me. (Don’t laugh… and pretend that growing older is not bothering you, it bothers ALL of us, and I will write a separate post on that).
Age probably wasn’t the biggest factor, and there’s probably the other thing; increasing responsibilities of both life and work which inadvertently (like it or not) creep in unnoticed. I lied, I did notice them marching boldly in and I welcomed them right in. It is not a bad thing, but it becomes bad when they become unmanageable and that boils down to the person managing them; me. I have always been a worry wart, and even when things go perfectly well, I still think there could have been room for more improvement. So, you see my obvious need for a vacation (or even checking in to an asylum).
Much as I loved working and being busy with my everyday life, I still love going away for vacations. (I mean, who doesn’t? And just for the record, just to set myself straight and a pointer to all of you out there, those two terms and concept should not even be in the same sentence in the first place.
As I was saying, I really loved a good vacation; not that any vacation is bad, but they should be really good. My definition of really good is when I could still be stuck in that luminosity of the aura of that time away even after I am back to reality, and reality still doesn’t feel like reality. It was like being away to heaven for a while and then reality just seems like, ughs, Hell when we are back. We have all been through that; and while I enjoy most of my vacations, there are just those that stand out among the rest and have that lasting effect which could stick for weeks, and even months, and for the exceptionally awesome ones; even for years and I would still yearn and just the mere thought of it could instantly soothe my nerves. Mmmmm…..that should be the true definition of bliss~
I have this tendency to close everything and to ensure the need to do almost everything; be it work or my personal life, and this explains the lack of breaks I take from work. It would take more than monstrosity to take me away from work and things that I am working on (literally); though physically, it wouldn’t be much to sweat. I never really thought much of myself as a workaholic, and I have recently read an article about workaholics and I was really free of the symptoms; well, most of them. (Oh yeah, the fact that I was reading an article and comparing the symptoms, seriously, what was I thinking?)
Recently, I have just decided that I wanted to ditch that crap about taking work so seriously, and almost to pledging my life for work or everything else that is sucking every ounce and air of my being. Who have I truly become? Who do I really want to be? I don’t want to be that sad, lonely person who had nothing else in her life except her dull-colored lifeless corporate laptop, and while I am on this, why do all work laptops have to look so dull? (Just my thought, not that I am asking for a bright neon pink or pastel-colored laptop – which would be quite nice to have too, but just plain old white and silver, would be good too, and no, grey does not count as silver, thank you).
So, laptops aside, I have this great awakening in me as I looked forward to my vacation, which was just a short 4-days thing away from the hustle and bustle of the city; the traffic, the people, the never-improving air (pollution) index (that is one of the main culprit snubbing the life out of me), and almost everything that is part of the everyday’s annoying cliché lifestyle we all go through, oh yeah, of course, sans the civilization part.
 Hello, I live in the 21st century and I have grown up befriending electricity and proper water supply and of course, technology and automation that I never knew the world before them. I am a spoilt city brat, and so are you, don’t judge. I adore and worship geniuses like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs for making the world it is today, and unless you live in a primitive area where you hunt and take water from the mountain spring, you are pretty much me as well, in hiding, while snorting at my words.
In honor of my awakening to rejuvenate my senses; or mainly, to revive that breathing life in me, I have decided to try out something, or rather, it was more of a challenge to myself. 
That would be, giving up on my daily technology companions; i.e: my cell phone, laptop, and the urge to check my emails and the Internet.
Sounds easy?
Why did I call it a challenge then?
You obviously do not know me.
Have you seen that person constantly on her phone; eyes practically aligned to the reading screen of her phone that it appeared as though there was some sort of unseen infrared or static connection to the naked eyes of the public? That same pair of eyes, and hands, are also often seen on the laptop, often furiously typing away to reply those dead and long wordy emails (they are dead because emails don’t talk to you interactively, do they? You have to write in that monotonous style, and if you are me, then you would insert emotion smileys every now and then, while maintaining the professional front to give it a little more life, and click Send. Those Auto Replies and confirmation before sending, is not the emails or computer talking to you. Get a life!)
This is definitely a challenge; I mean, I could choose not to bring the laptops with me, and the phones are vital for emergency so I would bring them along. (I am going to an island away from the mainland, for goodness sake, I need the phones in case of emergencies, don’t I?)
Now here is the tricky part; the phones could be turned off; or I would need to switch them to Do Not Disturb/Blocking Mode. This, in the technical jargons of the phone, would mean that, the messages and calls could come in, BUT, I would not be notified at all. There would be no ringtones, no sounds of incoming messages, nothing. Nada. It’s pretty much equals to a non-existent phone, and the key is, as long as I do NOT check my phone, that would just make the functionality works as intended.
Here’s the problem; how do you make someone who is so attached to her phone (they are like part of me!) not take her phone out and occasionally glance at it? I could do with the not replying (even though with extremely strong willpower and determination), but not even looking at it, it sounds like an impossible mission, for me.
I could take on this challenge, after all, it is set by me and I want to do this the realistic way.
It is in a way, to assess the level of my addiction (not to mention inexplicable obsession) to my phone, and in general, technology companions. Doing this realistically means I would take it with the flow, and that meant reducing the times I would think or guiltily whip out my phone to slowly ignoring the presence of my phones. Yes, that is my way of psycho-therapy. (It would be just easier to ditch the phone or just freeze the phone altogether, I’d think).
The journey begins…
Day 1
I found myself subconsciously still reaching for the phone; and could not help just turning it on to just take a look at the notifications displayed on the screen. Then I remembered that I am on my vacation and that I need this break, and I switched it off, telling myself, I can do this.
I threw the phone back into the bag; then enjoyed the day doing nothing much at all.
It was hard; and I did cheat, as I reached for that phone and just turned on the screen, though I reduced the frequency, reminding myself guility that this is not going to work unless I cooperate. (yes with my inner self). Like a sulking patient, I just decided to keep it in the bag, and just flipped it out for that occasional photos. (does that constitute as cheating? Hey, the phone is the most convenient tool for camera).
Day 1 was a relatively hard; though the urge was slowly reduced especially when I was just lazing on the beach; on that favorite spot of mine and just listening to the sounds of nature.

Day 2
I did not look at my phone until noon!
Yes, that felt good, and I had a book that kept me busy, besides the beach. My favorite beach again, and the Venus talk I had with dear hubby which took up the rest of the afternoon. Then it was time for dinner, and I did take a little peek at my phone once. 
So, guilty, but this was practically almost a phone-free day besides that two peeks (okay, maybe three).
*Shakes head* at the misconduct of discipline

Day 3
This was even better, I think I only looked at the phone once and that was because I had been at the spa all day and those aromatherapy oils would be gross on my phone screens, not to mention them taking forever to clean so I am not taking chances. Besides, I wasn’t moronic enough to test if my phone was waterproof as I went through the baths and showers, so definitely a better idea to just keep them safe where they are, in the bags.
However, this was a good day that I totally forgot about the phone (I’m sorry phone, I’ve failed you but for the sake of the challenge, it was supposed to be a positive win for myself for being able to resist you).

Day 4
It was almost time to leave, and the deal was not to look at the phone until midnight where the whole 4-days would be over. (Did I forget to mention I am a stickler for punctuality and that I take my time/date very seriously?)
Anyway, I did manage to stay true to that, and I did not look at my phone once for the notifications.
Day 4 was definitely one of the best days out of the four-days challenge. Day 3 was average but the spa helped with reducing the attachment and the need.
Overall, it seemed like the four days went quite well; and I did manage to resist the urge to look at some of the messages which came in, lest say replying. I would consider this on the average for a first time challenge. It was quite hard to tear away from the habit in the beginning; especially on the first day – the first few hours when the Do Not Disturb is turned on. I did not realize how habitual it has become to just check the phone or even to look at the messages, because subconsciously, the mind already learnt that the DND mode is on and that without the sound notifications, it would call for manual checking. As the days go by, it was not entirely impossible to bask in the lovely sunshine, the precious quality air; well, the scenery and the greater universe which exists outside the phone and our usual world, and with little thought to the phone lying in the bag. The activities kept the mind busy and even without the activities, the other factor is the strength of the willpower and it is all in the mind. 
So, did I pass the test; the challenge to be phone-free after 4-days?
Well, as part of the confession, I did use the phone as a camera because frankly, I would love to set those beautiful sceneries as my wallpaper, hence the need for the phone’s camera after taking those fabulous shots with my good old camera. It totally justifies the purpose, for those memorable shots to jiggle my mind to sanity each day as I get wrapped in my crazy life. 

(Look at that gorgeous view, totally justifies for the phone to be whipped out, don't you think?)

Then, the phone was also my alarm clock, and in case you are wondering why do I need a alarm clock on my vacations, well, good question. I can’t answer you that. It’s private.
Technically, I turned on the screens for those purposes, oh, I did check the weather too. I just like to make sure that everything is going to be great; not that I fantasize about playing God and wanting to change the weather, with my phone nonetheless.
The verdict?
I am so doomed.
I am certified; phone-obsessed and extreme unexplained addiction to the phone.
What was I even thinking?
I have this relationship with my phone, and my technology companions (laptop) and no one can break that bond. What I didn't realize was that, it was That unbreakable!
Now technology was invented for a reason, and we should embrace them with gratitude and make sure we fully utilize the great ideas brought to life for our better-being. Whoever thought otherwise must have lost their minds.

The actual Logic behind the Experiment (Self-Challenge)
Jokes and sarcasm aside, this little experiment was not meant to mock the existence (or non-existence) of technology and it is a serious awakening to the effects technology has had in our lives since its appearance. It is not hard to comprehend the minds of the current generation; those who were born with these luxuries, which have been well termed as the necessities today. 
It is almost unfathomable to think of the lives before cell phones, Internet, televisions, computers, system automation, and that people have even survived them. Tell this to the older generation folks who were from the WWII era; they will not be able to understand the drama without cell phones or surfing the Internet and neither will the younger generation be able to understand how they found their way around with Google maps or GPS. It is all about that paradigm shift in effect; there is no denying that times have indeed changed and while most say for the better, there is much to debate about and I say, there is always the good and the bad.
We have been too engrossed with the invention of technology and living a more advanced life that we may have lost track of just breathing, and living that life. It sounds so clichéd, but seriously, how many of us could really, survive without any of these; cell phones, computers/laptops, Internet, television,  just to name a few. It is no longer a joke, and this shift could have created a much greater gap in our lives than we could have imagined. With the world being in computerized and connected mode where everything could be done via the Internet, is there still that touch of humanity?
1.Do we still walk up to that person and ask them out on a date? (Or do we just Whatsapp them)
2. Do we still walk to that place which is just a few metres(or maybe a couple of blocks) from where we are located? (Or do we just call for a cab, and just drive straight to the building)
3. Do we go to the banks or counters to talk to the person in charge when we need to clarify or perform a transaction? (Or do we just punch furiously and scream frustratingly at the auto menu system responding to us, in that superficial annoying fashion?
4. Do we still talk and laugh at the dinner tables with families and friends, without once paying attention to that ringing phone which we forgot to silence? (Or do we just focus on that Whatsapp, Line messages coming in or even at beating the scores of our friends in Candy Crush, or whatever is trending at the moment)
What Have I Learnt?
That we should never ever consider a life without technology....and this is not a test/experiment for the phone-huggers or hardcore web surfers (not waves, we are talking about virtual reality here).
It is a shocking realization, though we are blessed to be living in a modernized generation where we have almost everything we want at hand (all we need is financial independence, and by that I mean no debt). Technology has certainly crept in and consumed or made up more of our lives than we cared to realize and we have been so dependent on them that it is almost unimaginable or war-worthy to tear one away from it all.
I am not saying that we should consider throwing away all that for a prehistoric era living style, but maybe it would be good to take that break away once in a while and focus on the living values; bonding with friends and families the old-fashioned way. It would be a refreshing start, and trust me, one of the first feelings would be of liberty and spiritually felt.
Though this may sound cliche, do ourselves that favor and just focus on that real relationship with human beings. Those who we love and adore us in return would thank us for it, for once, pay some attention for them. 
They are the ones who will stay with us even after that new phone is released; and our phones, it will just be replaced with each new wave of technology. So why put the people we truly care about and who cared about us all the same (even with all our insanity) away to make way for something cold and heartless (though it's Smart)?
Time for a little self-reflection maybe?
(They might have an App for that) No, I'm kidding, this calls for a real soul-searching and connecting with one's true self.

In the meantime, I would like that phone back please, or I will not be responsible for any injury inflicted on anyone who is keeping that phone or challenging me to go without my phone…I am serious…

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