Do you remember what it was like to drive your car and the only interruptions to your off-tune (if you are like me) singing were radio advertisement breaks or a stoplight-induced-self-consciousness?
Do you remember what it was like to go for a walk somewhere – anywhere – with no accompanying vibration or ringing or pinging in your pocket or purse?
Do you remember how spaces of time used to be spent before on-demand phone calls and moveable socializing via texts, email, What’s App, Twitter, Facebook, etc. existed? Like the lull before the start of the movie that was whiled away guessing at Cinema trivia questions? Or the quiet time before sleep spent reading? Or the pauses in dinner conversation filled with observations of the people and sights around you? Or just moving from point A to point B in silence or while having real, live face-to-face conversation?
Now, those spaces are generally filled with our ears glued to a receiver or our noses pressed against a LCD panel.
(I have even been known to text while I run. Of course, I can’t count how many times I have almost plowed straight into the Bosporus while trying to text and keep my, albeit slow, pace.)
(Which hasn’t stopped me from doing it.)
Do you remember what it was like to go somewhere and not be reachable by anyone?
(Doesn’t that just send guilty shivers down your spine at the thought?)
(And, no doubt, some feelings of trepidation at the thought of being cast out to sea without a lifeboat, aka mobile phone.)
In other words, when was the last time you were “unplugged?”
For me, it was last weekend.
I left home without my phone, an unsettling realization that hit me mid-drive to the mall to grocery shop.
(Yes, I know that the idea of grocery shopping at a mall seems strange to most of us Americans, but some of the best food stores are located in malls in Istanbul. And something that seemed quite strange in the beginning, I now find very convenient. I can peruse the top selection at Zara and then the produce selection at Macro. Efficient.)
I almost turned back. The thought of driving the 5 minutes from my house to the mall without a phone to call someone in case of an automobile altercation was almost terrifying.
Not to mention the idea that no one could reach me. No one knew exactly where I would be when I entered the 3 million square foot black hole that was the mall. What if someone needed me? After the fear of driving without my AAA-like safety net, the guilt almost succeeded in turning the wheel 180 degrees.
(After all, I leave my phone at home as often as I turn down an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie. In other words, never.)
Wait, I told myself.
Once upon a time, hadn’t I walked, driven, navigated airports and train stations, and even inhabited foreign countries without a mobile phone? Surely I could survive one outing without one? Surely my family could survive one outing without being able to reach me?
I kept my foot on the gas pedal, mentally committing to seeing this extreme adventure through to the scary end.
And then I felt something that I hadn’t expected.
The luxury of absolute freedom.
(Granted, with a teensy weensy bit of guilt mixed in.)
(But the pleasure overrode the guilt.)
(Much as is the case when you eat an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie.)
So, instead of turning back, I sat myself down at Caffe Nero with a grande cappuccino and my laptop, and I spent two hours and twenty-five minutes of glorious disconnection.
(Disconnection and a kind of isolation because, despite sitting in the middle of a busy corridor that hosts some of Caffe Nero’s most comfortable chairs, with people streaming past and a couple of guys right next to me engaging in some kind of iPhone animated game speak, my total ignorance of Turkish added a layer to my disconnectedness.)
When I think how over-connected we are, every day, every minute almost …it makes me think we all need to get unplugged more often. After all, when lack of service makes you feel like you are on vacation – or going to go crazy – something’s wrong.
I so enjoyed my disconnected time, I plan to do it more often.
Much more often.
And, if you think I am exaggerating things, if you doubt that it is time for you to take the plunge and “unplug” yourself for an extended period of time, then I want you to ask yourself a simple question:
When you visit the WC, does your phone go with you?