The Value of Unplugging

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As I was cleaning my room this morning (gotta make everything look spiffy for when the boy visits this weekend!), I turned on Good Morning America. I like watching the news…but being on a college kid’s schedule, I don’t get to watch it as often as I would like. Anyway, this particular morning was interesting because Robin Roberts was interviewing actress Glenn Close about her new movie, “Albert Nobbs.” I’m not entirely sure of the plot line of the film yet, but basically Glenn plays a woman who spends most of her life “hiding” in plain sight by dressing and acting and living as a man. She was talking about how it was interesting to play this character, because she really needed to portray how alone this person felt for over 30 years. And then she said something brilliant. Something along the lines of: “Even in today’s world where we’re constantly plugged in all of the time, people get lost. People still feel alone. Maybe even more so.”

Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs” (Source)

Over break, my dad told me something along those same lines. We were joking around and taking goofy pictures, then someone mentioned something about posting them to Facebook. Now, my dad doesn’t like the idea of Facebook in general, but what he said next was pretty enlightening: “Everyone is so worried about showing off their lives on the Internet now that they forget to actually have fun and live it.” Right on, dad.

(Source)

This is something that I’ve been thinking about more and more lately…maybe because it just seems to keep popping up in different scenarios with different people. I think the fact that this has been an issue for more than one person in my life lately really says something about our generation, and I think it’s a real problem that we’re going to have to face as we move on from being teenagers, to young adults, to “real” adults and beyond.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook. I tweet like a mo-fo sometimes. I have a LinkedIn. Obviously, I write a blog. I check my email compulsively. All things considered, I’m a pretty plugged-in individual. But there are some things in life worth putting away the laptop for, and just enjoying the moment.

On our trip to Mexico last January when Shaun and I got engaged, we were completely unplugged for an entire week. We didn’t have cell phone reception, and to access the internet in our hotel you had to pay a per-minute fee to use the lobby computers. We finally accumulated enough pesos by Thursday (five days into the trip) to call home on a pay phone and tell them the good news. At the Cancun airport on our way home, I caved and bought fifteen minutes of internet access to kill a little time. But that was it. And you know what? It was great.

I think this translates to the world of weddings too, in a lot of ways. I’ll let Ryan Gosling sum up my feelings on this matter, because I’ve pontificated about this particular issue way too many times:

Source: Practical Ryan Gosling

So while I might not be as extreme as my dad on this issue, I think there’s real value in stepping back and remembering to actually live life. Not through photos, although photos are great. Not through blogs, although blogging is fun. Especially not through Facebook. There are times when unplugging and really soaking in the moment is more important than whatever photo-op you might get, and actually seeing someone in person is always better than a text or a private message or whatever it may be. In today’s world where everybody knows everybody’s business but nobody talks, I hope we all (myself included) can work on remembering that, especially when it comes to big, important occasions, what’s important are people. And actually interacting with them.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you post your whole life online, or try to limit the information you give out? I’m a little bit of both!

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