Unplug

Plug out of the reel into the real

After being extremely saturated, I decided to simultaneously go unplugged from the real and reel world. Our friends too severely needed a break, so we chose the New Year. My son had been complaining about not being able to spend as much time with me. It was time to do it. Of course, it was not as easy to imagine me minus my attachment – my phone. Yet, I stuck to my firm resolve to unplug this time. 

As we all know, New Year is when we want to wish everyone around, and at that time, we hook up to our apps and the millions of GIFs or animations sent and re-sent to all our friends. The midnight countdown (unlike earlier when it was on TV programs) is on social media reels or memes now. No longer are we hugging our friends and greeting them at midnight or making phone calls. Social media has shrunk timelines and reduced our wishes to text messages or GIFs/animations. It motivated me to be off gadgets. It was time to usher in the New Year uniquely.  

For three days, we switched off all our devices and became ourselves – raw, organic, and authentic. We stocked on all board games, slept, read, went for a walk, swam, and did what we wanted to do consistently. Then, on New Year’s eve, we played music and danced like crazy. We did a countdown on our watches, and as the needle struck 12, we greeted each other amidst hugs and loud shouts, cheering to our sounds and the firecrackers being burst in the vicinity. 

Those three days transported me back to when we did not have smartphones and only had landlines. I realized that we never really cared about the time we went out and came back home. There was no phone to keep a tab on where we went or did. It was indeed a carefree time. Those from the 2000 and pre-2000s era would be able to relate to what I just said. During that time, we got wet in the rain without getting tensed that our phones or even our clothes would get spoilt. We moved about freely and did not have to keep checking our pockets to see if we had misplaced our phones. Ah! We did check if our wallets were intact, though! That was an unplugged time. 

During the three days, we just relaxed, shared our thoughts, vented our emotions, and lay on bare grass unabashed. If we felt like it, we danced too. None of us surprisingly missed our phones/laptops/work. It was as if that world had never existed. At the end of the third day, we returned rejuvenated, tired (only physically), and with loads of memories! It was indeed an emotional detox for us. I came out born as a new soul.

In the digital era, we are entirely restricted, and many have built virtual walls around us, resulting in emotional choking often. The pandemic made it worse. We went into a further shell. It plugged us out of the physical world as we dived deeper into the virtual world. In two years, we all got hooked to all devices – laptops, mobiles, tablets, palm tops, etc. thanks to online classes, workplaces, and even schools. Children especially took the hit, doing their homework and spending maximum time on devices. Our family time became consumed by gadgets – consciously or subconsciously. 

The awareness that we were too entangled in our virtual world came late to most of us, but we are making amends for all the lost time. Slowly yet steadily, we are all returning to pre-pandemic times – traveling, having more family meal times, going to the hall for movies, indulging in playtime with children (board games and outdoor sports), meeting friends, and having good old house parties. 

Travel and concept-based event companies across the globe are also coming up with novel ways to get us to couch potatoes, aka laptop folks, into the wild and outdoors, minus our attachments. Travel bloggers are traveling more and motivating people to get off the screen and explore new places. Holistic healing gurus and leaders are reinventing their strategies to bring back people into the real world from the reel. Corporates aren’t far behind, either.

More companies are creating “Workcations” for those who want to take a break from the usual office routines. The term means working while taking a vacation from any remote location. Bosses found that employee productivity shot up after they started going on workcations. You can quickly turn into a travel nomad while working. At the same time, it is easy to plug out and complete deadlines at one’s convenience. Plugging out is good as long as work is done and deadlines are met.

On this note, I am signing off with a cuppa tea and a beautiful Swedish term, Fika. Fika, pronounced fee-ka, means a moment to slow down and appreciate the good things in life. 

——

She is a quirky writer/photographer/closet poet and singer who has traversed a non-conventional path. As a former entertainment journalist who has worked in print and online media for a decade, Priya loves talking to people and writing their unspoken stories. She is a single parent of a 7-year-old son settled in Tamil Nadu and a Content Consultant/ Communications-PR Manager. She is also an informal mentor to parents in her local parenting network. She dreams of being an author of a book and maybe the scriptwriter of a film someday!

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