As I walked through the exhibit hall at the conference I’m attending, I noticed something…humorous? Disturbing? A little sad? Every single person at every single booth had their head bowed over a smartphone.

Now, I’m not tattling on anyone. It was during sessions and no one was being ignored. I’m just another exhibitor. But then, what if I wasn’t? No one would have even noticed. It instigated an interesting conversation with a couple of colleagues.

Why is so easy hard for us to to disconnect tech-wise, and yet so effortlessly disconnect from the present? From the people we love? From ourselves?

I know that the more I’m tuned into my phone, specifically, the more oblivious I am to anything that’s going on around me. The funny thing is, I’m very rarely using it to speak to someone. I’m checking email or texts or Facebook or Instagram – anticipating communication, the need to be checked in, the need to prove that I’m busy. The need to prove that I’m worthy. 

The breaking point came at the holidays. My husband and I were visiting my family in Arizona – a trip that only happens once or twice a year, so the time really is precious. I say that, and I believe it, but I wasn’t honoring it. I was so wrapped up in the work I needed to get done, putting out fires, anticipating drama, that it completely consumed me. I was having panic attacks – something I’d never experienced before, and it became clear to me that I was reaching the point of a breakdown. Something needed to change. Many things needed to change, actually, but reconnecting was the priority.

As I’ve been practicing this concept of tuning in to the present, I’ve found that the shift has happened quickly. I’m more relaxed. I make better eye contact. I laugh more. And I’m not worried about what might be popping up on my phone. Isn’t that fascinating? The less I’m plugged in, the less I worry about being plugged in.

I’m even working up to unplugging completely on Sundays. A day of rest. A day of mental prep for the week ahead. Somehow doing it feels like a major act of courage, which in itself is a little disturbing. But I’m working on it. And, hopefully, I’ll get to tell you all about it face-to-face, rather than on Instagram.

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