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Source: Sterling Books


I am staring at my phone, praying for adult interaction. I want it to buzz or ding or light up with a friend’s face. I’m craving something to do as I stare out the dining room window at the gross winter day. And I am expecting my phone to give me that. I feel alone even though my Facebook friends list is over 400 people and a “whopping” 1400+ follow me on Twitter. I’m ignoring the fact that there are photos that could be scrapbooked, booties that could be crocheted (if only I’d learn), or freezer meals to make. I just want someone to say they like me or something I’ve posted.

Maybe I am suffering from what author Orianna Fielding describes as ‘digital overload’ in her book, unplugged: how to live mindfully in a digital world. I was sent this book because of this blog, but quite a few people in my life would probably say there was some divine intervention that placed it in my hands. Maybe so. But I have excuses for why I crave my technologies — I moved to a town where I know a handful of people (thanks to the internet, by the way) and am “too far” from some of my closest friends and family to see them in person like we used to; several of my college and post college friends live in other states – we have to stay connected; and I have family all over the country. How can I not want to be connected? Alas, I read the book and found some helpful information in it.

Orianna gives tips like:

•                    DO NOT sleep with your smartphone.

•                    Meal times, whether at home or in a restaurant, are a unique opportunity to connect with family, friends, and loved ones – NOT our smartphones. Keep them off the table.

•                    Create a “sanctuary space” – a digital free space at home where you can reconnect with yourself.

•                    Use every opportunity to get up from your desk and walk away from your computer/smartphone.

•                    Talk to your co-workers in person or on the phone rather than always sending them an email.

•                    Stop and look around once in a while!  You can’t experience life through a 2” backlit screen.

•                    Physical contact is important. Engage your five senses and touch things other than a digital device.

•                    Experience the moment and capture it in your mind, tech-free, instead of always reaching for your smartphone to take a picture.


I don’t disagree with her – these tips definitely have a place in our “being ‘on’ 24/7” world, and that we need to “manage digital overload and find a more mindful way of living”. As I read the book, I quickly realized I was guilty of 4 of the 12 signs of digital overload (plus several others I don’t want to admit I am) and need to make a point to have more in person interaction. Seriously, I’d rather see people than just interact online, but I lately I’ve felt not many people want to meet up and grab a cup of coffee or just be together (several “parties” I’ve hosted recently where 2 people show up make me think this!). At the same time, I do cherish my online community, so it’s a give and take.

unplugged has sections on the three areas of our lives that technology has impacted us (live, work, and play) as well as ways to get over the overload (pause/disconnect, reconnect, rewind, reset). There are very helpful tips throughout the book (in addition to those above), even ways to get around feeling like you have to be connected for work (guilty), actually go to lunch, and poignant thoughts (sitting is the new smoking – you can tell that to my sciatic nerve). You’ll find a digital detox plan (I won’t be doing this yet, but am glad I’ll have it on hand) and even retreats for those most deeply in need of unplugging.

Let’s all start with something simple, though. An hour a day, put your phone on silent. Leave it behind and see what happens. (Last time I did this, my husband was headed to to the ER with our kids in tow, oops…) And maybe together we can prepare for 24 hours of unplugging (March 6-7, more details on nationaldayofunplugging.com). What do you think?


Unplugged will be available from Sterling Publishing in February for a SRP of $14.95, or you can enter the giveaway below to get a copy now! (Ends 2/1 at 11:59 PM.)


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