Can You Just Unplug Anymore?


Preparing a lesson in the backcountry

It used to be that I’d only check my emails every few days. I didn’t own a cell phone and rarely checked my voice messages. I wasn’t on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn until recently. It all started when I decided to write a book. Well the cell phone thing happened earlier. But not by much.

These days if you want to sell a book, you also need a blog. And a Facebook account. And a Twitter handle. And what the publishing industry calls a “platform”, which I like to think of as a really tall place from which to holler, “Buy my book!” The more connected you are, the taller the hollering place. Really famous people seemingly holler from the top of Everest.

I’m not famous. But I have a blog and a Facebook account, which is practically the same thing these days. (Actually that’s not true. Not even close.)

So I’m finding it harder and harder to unplug. My husband and I were recently surprised by how many work-related emails we received over the holiday weekend. People don’t seem to take time off anymore. Every waking moment can now be used to build one’s platform, creating an ever higher place from which to “stay on message”. Whether we are proselytizing about our book, our recent accomplishments, a product we hope to sell, or simply our cute kids, we are all out there trying to sell ourselves 24/7. It’s a tough world these days, and everyone wants to be on top.

That’s what I like about adventure trips. Before I built up my platform I worked as an Outward Bound instructor, spending nearly all summer in the backcountry without electronics. I didn’t have a phone or a iPod and only rarely carried a camera. While time in camp was busy, the easiest part of the day for an instructor was hiking the trails–when the kids were too tired to complain or bicker and we could just get lost in our own thoughts.

I’m ready to unplug this summer. I want to walk a trail and get lost in the rhythm of my feet, thinking no further than the next campsite. I’ll still be here, blogging away, but not at my earlier pace. I plan to post at least once a week, more when I think of something great to share.

It is time to recharge. And unlike electronics, humans can only recharge when they are unplugged. Take some time away from your computer this summer. You’ll be happy you did.

9 responses »

  1. As they say, Kim, I feel your pain. We all thought computers would make life easier, and in some measure, they do — but at what a price. Enjoy your time away.

  2. Yep, you highlight one of my current modern pet peeves. Digital cameras, POV cameras, computers, smartphones etc. are not required equipment for every little outing and not every single step one takes has to be documented and analyzed on the Internet.

    Simply leaving the phone at home is an excellent way to unplug. It’s as simple as that – don’t buy into the idea that you HAVE to continually be plugged in. It’s your life and you’re in control of it!

  3. Kimba…you get it…go for it! There is nothing greater than the privacy of a special moment, the quietude of just being and enjoying the moment(s) alone or with the one you cherish.

  4. I can really appreciate this post, Kim. Thank you for writing it!

    You especially struck a chord with: “And unlike electronics, humans can only recharge when they are unplugged. So, so true.

    I like to think that our “audiences” will forgive us outdoorsy folks for wanting to head outdoors. We absolutely MUST.

    I’ll be joining you in the outdoors this summer!

  5. Totally agree. I feel guilty if I don’t post often enough on my blog, for which I have found no financial gain. But I’m a writer and should have one! I also prefer vacations with no phone or internet access, so that I have no possible way to log-in, then my conscience can be clear. But why can’t I just give myself permission to unplug? It’s all about trying to live up to the expectations that others have for us….or that we presume they have for us…or that we have for ourselves. I need to learn to make the expectations I have for myself more realistic and acheivable, and also not to always accept the expectations that others might be trying to place on me. Easier said than done, though!

    Great topic. Thanks for posting.

  6. Pingback: 8 Ways to Unplug Everyday « Kim Kircher

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