8 Ways to Unplug Everyday


Sometimes its best to enjoy nature with a friend.

Last week I questioned whether it was even possible anymore to unplug ourselves from the great Cosmic Technology outlet. The responses were interesting.

One of my FB friends simply responded with NO. It isn’t possible for him, apparently.

Another offered up a thoughtful response. But the irony was not lost on me when that same friend retweeted my post. On Twitter. On the Internet. Probably from her computer. Or maybe from her phone, which is probably worse. It is getting hard to get away from all this technology that was supposed to make our lives easier, proving more time for leisure and recreation. For some its nearly impossible.

My step-daughter recently posed a question to me. Would I rather lose my foot or lose the Internet for everyone. Before she asked me the question she told me she thought she knew my response. So before I answered I asked her what she thought I’d say. She figured I’d go for the lost foot. I explained that the Internet is not actually a necessity–like food and water. Or even an almost necessity, like walking.

She begged to differ. She reminded me of the parameters of her proposal. I could save the Internet, nay THE WORLD, by just giving up my foot. I could even wait until I was OLD to lose my foot.

“Do you mean when I’m 90 or do you mean next year?” I asked. It’s important to clarify when engaging in hypotheticals. Especially with a 10 year old. She said I could wait until I was 90 to lose my foot and save the world.

I stuck with my original answer–no way in Hell would I give up my foot for the freaking Internet. She was shocked. She reminded me that her entire life had been shaped by the Internet. I groaned. We are going to have to spend some serious time outside this summer. Without our phones. Without our iPads. Without our earbuds. This is getting serious.

So, I want to offer some tips of getting unplugged. It’s too hard to go cold turkey these days.

  1. Set your email to vacation mode, even if you aren’t going on vacation. No one will know.
  2. Go out on an errand and leave your phone at home.
  3. Do not look at Facebook today. Resist the urge to post a photo of that man walking down the street in the superhero costume. Just take a mental snapshot and tell a real-life friend about it in person. Perhaps in a coffee shop. Use your hands to gesticulate. Talk in a loud voice. Call attention to yourself. You’ll be better off for it and you might actually have others genuinely interested in your story.
  4. Take your old-school camera for a walk in nature. Notice the dew on flower petals; pay attention to the quality of the light; listen to the birds or other creatures. Take at least twenty pictures, ones that require you to focus and pay attention. Do NOT hold the camera away from your face and take a picture of yourself for your Facebook profile.
  5. Pet your cat without your video camera at the ready. Yes your cat might do something incredibly strange and worthy of the world’s best cat video. But chances are you won’t get 3 million views on your youtube account anyways. And really, who cares? The point of having a pet is that they need/love you even when you’re being weird.
  6. Go outside. Go to the mountains, the rivers, the beach. Find your happy place and resist the urge to share it on social media. Just be there. Absorb it rather than being a conduit for the virtual world. Better yet, bring along a friend/loved one/total stranger to share the experience.
  7. Try a new sport. Of course I have to mention skiing here, the ultimate HOLY COW I BETTER PAY ATTENTION sport. But there’s also surfing and kayaking and pinochle.
  8. Take up a new hobby that requires all your attention. Think birdwatching or knitting or roller derby, anything that occupies your entire mind. The trick is to come up with NEW hobbies every once in a while. Or take your old hobby and push yourself a little. Get out of the HO HUM and into the HOLY CRAP, I REALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION phase every once in a while. I suggest something challenging. Like slack lining. Or Karaoke.

Bonus*** Now its your turn. How do YOU unplug? (I do see the irony in commenting on a post–on your computer, on the Internet–about ways to get away from your computer and the Internet.) Just promise that as soon as you share your ideas you will then turn off and unplug, even for a few minutes today. After you share this post on all your social media outlets, of course.

34 responses »

  1. I loved your post. I didn’t get hooked to gadgets until after a few weeks ago when I had my first smartphone. Anyway, I can see you are an author and I am too. So, check out my books on Amazon, they are free for 3 days from today till Saturday:

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    Thank you so much for great blogging

  2. HaHa, Kim this is Great! I’ll be unplugging for 3 days at Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone Nat’l Park. SO THANKFUL to be living in a place like Montana and Yellowstone where we CAN unplug very easily.

    • So true Brad! Being in the PNW is the same. There’s the lake, the National Parks, the mountains and the beach all within a two hour drive. Nature is the best medicine.

  3. It’s not often that an adventurer and expert skier suggests I try pinochle! I’m going to be wondering all day now: just what are the rules of pinochle and who plays this game? As for unplugging, in my daily life I rarely spend a whole day off the computer, but I do spend time outside most days. I typically unplug when I travel. Most travel bloggers don’t do it that way, but for me one point of travel is to get away from the world I know, so my readers have to wait until the trip is over to read what I did. I hope most of them appreciate the values I’m espousing by doing it that way. 🙂

    • If not pinochle at least give dominoes a try. I love that game. As for traveling and staying online I can’t recommend it either. in fact that’s one of the big reasons I love to travel, just to get away from everything.

  4. Hey Kim great post today! I think one of the key aspects of unplugging is the difference between unplugging being technology or unplugging from work. For me when I say I am going to unplug it means I’m done with my day job and I’m not answering anymore e-mails and I’ve shut off the computer for the day. For me the technology that I enjoy probably the most is my kindle and it provides a relief for me, an escape to read the books that I enjoy at a moments notice. I enjoy technology but have no problem shutting it off. What I do miss is people just picking up the phone and talking to each other about nothing at all. Those days seem to be long gone as we move into more task/outcome oriented relationships with people. It’s a tragedy. So I’m with you, not giving up a foot for the Internet but at the same time will miss it if it’s gone but will move on.

    • I tried a Kindle, but it felt too much like still being plugged in. Reading a book is the ultimate “Kim unplugged” and I can’t deny the joy of holding a good book in my hand. I just finished Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”. I laughed and cringed my way through. Too funny.

  5. Hi Kim,

    Great post. You actually inspired me to give up facebook with your “Can’t you just unplug?” post. I am on a Facebook hiatus for 2 months. I haven’t checked it in over a week. It’s amazing! I feel calm. My sense of awareness and self in the REAL world has increased exponentially. Life is beautiful when we get to experience the full depth of emotions and experiences that go with it, not some Facebook posting, where we are always selling ourselves or editing our stories, worried about how we will look to someone else.

  6. I went to the Isle of Lewis off the west coast of scotland and happened to be there on a Sunday when the place pretty much closed down, at the time I was incredulous that there was a place that still had a day a week for just going to church and that as a traveller I was effectively morooned! It wasn’t until later that I came to the conclusion that religion or no, this was an awesome and unique way of unplugging and that maybe it is something the rest of the west could learn from! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Great post! I gave up facebook a couple of years ago because it was driving me up the wall, then gave up twitter several months ago. I’m so, so, SO much the better for it and am grateful everyday that I went that route. My phone is old school and I’ve resisted getting an iPhone because I have a feeling I know how that will turn out! And I also don’t own an iPod. My only internet activities are done from my laptop at home and involve email and wordpress. All in all, I’m very happy with life and I wouldn’t want fbook/twitter/smart phone to be a part of it.

    I hope other people are able to get to the point where their internet activity is limited. It’s truly a blessing to be able to live life more naturally.

  8. Oh wonderful post (ha, but here I am online). I find that I go to FB, etc. for a distraction while I’m sitting in front of the computer working because, well, I’d rather be outside, unplugged. And the whole blog thing, constantly checking my stats, hoping for comments, when, really after almost 4 years, I’m know not ever going to go viral in a big way and I should just remember I do it as an outlet to write what I want instead of the technical stuff I do for a living. Anyway, all this checking stuff is exacerbating my already mildy ADD-prone brain. I am always unplugged when sea kayaking, no option. And the park where I walk regularly in Seattle doesn’t get cell reception in the gulley. So lots of ways to unplug. I have to admit since I upgraded to a fancy Windows phone in April I’m a lot less unplugged than I used to be. But I hear you loud and clear. Thank you for this post!

  9. Great post! I am a man that spans the divide. I get out every weekend climbing, slackline in the weekbut I do use the internet an awful lot. I do like it when I get away to somewhere remote and my phone can’t even get a reception. Thing is as soon as I get back I’m blogging about my trips and sharing it with the world. Everything in moderation, including moderation! Consider yourself followed, I like your blog!

  10. Kudos on the blog. Glad to hear of a fellow PNW’er extolling the virtues of the great outdoors. 🙂

    More to the point, yes, you can unplug. I do it every Sunday. Anyone who wants to get in contact with me on Sundays simply cannot do it. I turn my phone and my computer off for 24 hours every week. I’ll work the other 6 days (and post, naturally), but never on Sunday. On that day I go to church and go outside. Jogging is always best for Sunday mornings. 😉 Also, I refuse to have cable tv, internet at home, or a smartphone. I like technology, but I don’t need it after being surrounded by it all day at work. It’s not for everyone, but it can be done.

    Thanks for making us thing about this stuff. 😉

  11. Great post, Kim! As a web site administrator, I have a tough time remaining unplugged — at least from my site — though I can definitely see the advantages. I actually love the previous poster’s idea about having one internet free day a week. I might try that myself.

    I went through a similar process with the news not long ago. I’m a bit of a news junkie, and found myself becoming increasingly distressed by the ongoing tales of political and economic strife. So I imposed a news “holiday” for myself; a couple weeks of no broadcast, print, or internet news. It did wonders for my psyche.

    • I applaud your efforts to unplug from the news Wendy. For me, that’s an easy one. If it were up to me, we wouldn’t have a TV in our house. I can avoid news otherwise for the most part. All but ski news, that is.

  12. When I read this I couldn’t help but think of your book title. If you truly see what is in front of you, you can unplug very easily. It is very freeing, if its important, they will leave a message. Remember to embrace the next fifteen minutes and not surrender it to technology

    • True enough Joe. Sometimes its all too easy to “surrender to technology” as you say. Instead, use technology in controlled doses and the rest of the time just “be”.

  13. it’s wonderful to know I ain’t the only one 😉 I went off FB recently and my friends have given me a hard time for that 😛 But it feels so good! except for no.7 and 8, (which I still can’t seem to find the time to do!) everything on your list is ‘checked’ on mine! love your blog 🙂

  14. I love it. I did a few of these things this week, actually. I often leave my phone at home so that I can’t see new emails coming in. I love the idea of the auto responder for vacations. I will definitely implement that very soon.

    Yesterday my husband and I set off on a late afternoon scramble up a peak here in Banff. We’re trying hard to incorporate these little trips into our week (ie. it doesn’t have to be a 3-4 day trip all the time!) I left the phone at home so that I couldn’t check it even when I got back in the car at the trailhead. Yes, these are the kinds of things I’d have to do. 🙂

    Something I’d add: Why not take a media fast – even for a few days – and just let people know that that’s what you’re doing? I’m sure our followers would understand.

    Great post!

  15. Pingback: Unplugged | disneytripandstuff

  16. Pingback: Here Are Five Tips For Taking An Internet Break | Geek Alabama

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