One of the “funniest” things about our trip to Monhegan Island was people-watching. Now, on this island there is limited (mainly none at all) cell phone service. There is a pay phone at the post office and some of the cottages have a phone, but for the most part you are not reachable. At least not on a dime like it is on the mainland. One of the things I love most about being there is to disconnect from all the gadgets, interactions, and general stuff of day to day living. From watching some other people, though the thought of this chance to completely disconnect is their biggest nightmare. Watching people freak out is part of the fun.
Anyone who has spent any time on the island realizes that the whole point is to disconnect. It is a different way of life and the pace is as opposite of the “normal” madness of big city/suburbia as could be. For first-timers and a lot of day-trippers the shock is almost unbearable. For some people back home to whom I try to explain the appeal of this, the shock is equally great.
Here’s some of the best of the best that we either heard or witnessed both before our trip and on the island. When Kim mentioned her trip to some co-workers several of them tensed up and got wildly defensive replying with classics like “Oh, oh, oh, I could NEVER do that…” or “What would you DO there?” or the ever-popular “How would I be able to stay connected?”. Even better were the physical antics we got to see. People standing on rock outcroppings or standing on their tip-toes with their arms stretched waaaay overhead, cell phones and blackberries in hand reaching, stretching, and praying for a signal. Tell me, even if you could get a signal 8 feet over your head, how would you make use of it? And, what makes you think there is an imaginary field about 4 feet above your head in which there is clear as a bell wireless service?
I make jest of watching all this but it really does beg a bigger question – what are these people afraid of? What do they make disconnecting mean about them?
We’ve gotten so busy and so “connected” that we can pretty much find just about anyone anytime, anywhere. People roam tied to the bluetooth headset in their cars, stores, and at dinner with their loved ones and think nothing of it. “Quality” time with their children, loved ones, and themselves is peppered with interruption at second’s notice from pagers, cell phones, regular phones, and blackberries. If the present moment is all we have but we’re so busy being somewhere other than the present moment in our minds, are we really anywhere at all? (OK forgive me and this heavy philosophical question.)
Now I’m not badmouthing technology here. I’ve got my cell phone and new laptop, but I also know how to shut them off and put them away. I have found that if you want to be truly comfortable in your own skin you need to disconnect at least a little bit each day and for a more extended period every once in a while. (There’s a whole lesson on disconnecting in my eCourse. To sign up, use the form at the top left of the blog or email cis_ecourse(at)aweber.com) It is in this disconnected from the rest of the world space that we can tune in and connect with ourselves. Tuning in regularly brings you more clarity, peace, calm, confidence, and self-esteem just to name a few. Those are pretty big benefits from a few moments of turning off (the chatter of the world) and tuning in (to what our bodies and soul have to say).
It might feel scary at first. “What if…” and “What will people think if I …. ” and “What will it mean it I…” In fact I believe people’s high-strung, stressed out panic, “Oh my GOD, there is no network coverage! How will people reach me!” has more to do with fear than anything else.
What do you think? Are you able to disconnect? If so, what benefits have you seen? If not, what keeps you fully wired to the grid at all times?