Monday, April 25, 2011

Unplugging...

overcast, beautiful day

So picture this: it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, you're out on a mid-day drive with your husband and your darling baby boy, the sun is shining through the trees, the perfect song comes on the radio...and the first thought that pops into your head is, "I need to tweet this."

Ugh. Really? Yes, really...if you're me. Embarrassing, right? This past weekend I had a realization that for how much I love my life, at times I don't put the "living" part first. I've talked about this before, but I didn't realize how much "tweeting" has become a part of my day to day until I decided to take a break from it.  For the past two days I've restricted my internet use a bit, outside of blogging and sharing links to posts.

I left my iPhone behind while I nursed Henry.

I used my iPod shuffle rather than my phone as I worked out.

I didn't tweet every twitter-worthy thought that popped into my head.

I resisted the urge to share photos all day long via Instagram.

And you know what? I enjoyed it. I spent thirty minutes last night, rocking my baby boy to sleep, not trying to catch up on emails, reply to messages and multi-task while I fed Henry. I held him close, spent that uninterrupted time just thinking, noticing, relaxing. I zoned out at the gym, and in turn had a wonderful workout and was able to really focus on strengthening my body and clearing my head.  I didn't find myself trying to "catch up" with my Twitter friends, or stay in the loop whenever I had a free minute. I was in the moment, rather than trying to capture the moment.

Now, I am definitely a fan of social networking, but (admittedly, embarrassingly), lately I've allowed myself to become too immersed in that world. It's always been a part of my life, and it is absolutely a large part of blogging, but as I reevaluate the purpose of "extras" that surround me, I find myself realizing that I am wasting precious, precious time over-sharing. I have the blogging part down pat- I manage this quite wonderfully and balance it well, but it's all the "other" sites that are just too much. I typically only use the internet while Henry is napping or asleep at night, but during this past two days I replaced all of that "free" time with reading good old-fashioned books, and I am so much happier. This is not to say I am going to quit any of my beloved sites. Truth be told, I adore Twitter, and especially Instagram, and I absolutely love the friends that I keep in touch with via those sites. However, moderation is key. I became aware of just how much I need that moderation when I held back from tweeting and various things popped into my head throughout the day that I had the "urge" to share. It's almost humorous (a bit sad, too!) if I was to list it all out, but for my own sake I'll keep all of those thoughts to myself. It makes me think though, what did I do with these thoughts before I had the gateway to funnel them out to a few thousand people? If I remember correctly, I kept them to myself (wow, what a notion!) or called Hank or a friend. One on one. Personal.

I guess my point is that I found myself enjoying life a lot more when I took a step back. I want to look at a beautiful flower and not think about taking a photo to upload to Twitter. If anything, I want to snap a photo and send it to my husband, and let him know how beautiful it was.

So, that's where I'm at. Still loving staying connected, still loving all of this glorious technology, but keeping it all in perspective. Using those sites to enhance my life, not become my life. Add to, not define. Being internet-savvy in this modern world has it's perks, but with that comes a responsibility to myself and my family to make sure I preserve the simple things in life, and keep myself in check.

Can any of you relate to this? I'd love to hear your perspective.

56 comments:

  1. Sometimes I get really depressed that the first thing my Husband and I do once we get baby to sleep is turn on our respective laptops. I feel like technology gets between us A LOT. Would love to connect with the man sitting literally one foot away from me!

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  2. I love this. It's important to experience life organically. It's nice to know that some of the best moments in your life will only be experienced by those that were there for them. Plus- you have more things to talk about when you hang out with your friends!

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  3. Couldn't agree with you more! I actually just teased a lot of my family on facebook by updating my status with everything I did for about five minutes. Some of them thought it was funny and admitted they overshare but a few people were really offended because that's really and truly what they do all day long.
    Oh society.

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  4. I love this post and can totally relate to it. I always enjoy your posts about unplugging. I, too, literally feel urges to tweet/check my e-mail, etc. and usually just go for it without giving it a second thought. I'm just about to finish school, which has been pretty isolating in general...so much work, sitting at a desk alone all the time...I'm looking forward to reconnecting with the "real" world in a big way in a few days. This post is just further inspiration for me to unplug and enjoy the "live" part of life. Thanks!

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  5. Oh I can definitely relate to this and I've noticed it more so with blogging more than anything (I mean I tweet, but not as much as a lot of bloggers haha). I've actually realized this over the past month. I'd just much rather enjoy the time spent with my family rather than think oh I have to get pictures so I have something to share/blog about later. Or I can't wait to blog this! It just takes the fun out of the moment. Which is exactly why I decided to take a step back when I went to AZ this weekend. People wanted me to take pictures of everything and I was like nahhh I'd rather just enjoy myself.

    The Sweetest Life

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  6. I know exactly how you feel because I've been in the same boat for a while now. I went for a week long holiday & deliberately let go of the blogging world & you know what? It was exactly the same when I got back!

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  7. i relate to this like crazy! i spent most of the weekend unplugged and it felt great. not checking facebook, twitter, google reader etc. every 10 minutes was refreshing, and i replaced that with sitting and enjoying the silence and reading a book. it's so easy to get caught up in the wonders of the distraction that internet brings, but i really need to work on living more!

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  8. Yeah girl! OK. Idea...and I'm going to call you about this tomorrow, too ;) On our first craft night, let's make "analog" tweet books for ourselves! I think the main reason we like twitter and blogging (you've touched on this a lot!) is as a record of our lives. SO, why not take that record and make it just for THAT...a record we can look at always that doesn't need the time consuming editing, or the strained night time eyes! I did it when I was graduating amid all the craaazzzyy (I had a couple of classmates make some for themselves and others after coming to similar realizations for themselves) ...and it was BEYOND wonderful!! Love you big time! <3

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  9. Amen, lady! I've noticed for the past week or so that I've been on twitter a little less everyday, and it's SO much nicer. I mean, I absolutely love connecting with everyone on it everyday, but sometimes the internet world can totally consume you, and when I start to get overwhelmed, I know that's when I need to take a step back, breathe, and just BE.

    Last night I was talking to my mom about how much I miss reading. I've been an avid reader my whole life, but lately I haven't been reading nearly as much as I used to... and I just feel so out of sorts. It's like when I don't work out for a while, my body feels really yucky and sluggish -- that's how my brain feels right now, so gross and blah from staring at a computer screen too much. So this next week I'm getting back to reading constantly and spending less time replying to emails, and over-working myself. I'm kind of stoked. :)

    xo.

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  10. I love unplugging occasionally. Its good for the soul. I unplugged this long weekend, and in hindsight I wish i'd been stricter and left my phone at home/switched off etc, but even so it was still good to take a break from it.
    Random as it sounds, its one of the reasons I love holidays abroad! I lock my phone away and just have a week relaxing and experiencing new things fully (and old things, like reading a book) being 100% in the moment.
    I'm tempted to make it a monthly goal. one weekend unplugged to recharge and just be. x

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  11. I can totally relate. I'm scaling back myself and walking away from/shutting down the computer, even. I want more time to do real things and be creative. I've also just been on the receiving end of bullying via Facebook and through emails, which makes me dislike the internet right now! Sad but true. Definitely time for some time-out.

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  12. i feel this way all the time. thats why i havent signed up for a twitter, i feel like i already dabble too much in the internet world just with a blog & facebook.

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  13. i totally understand what you're saying but i rarely have the urge or need to do so. i think it's more important for those that have kids. my husband and i don't want any for awhile (if ever) therefore we have a bit more freedom. i know if we were to have a child, i certainly wouldn't want them watching us on the internet 24/7. but as long as you keep a balance then there really isn't a problem which we do most of the time. it's not just with electronics though...i remember a few years back i got hooked on a book series and i literally came home from work and read until i went to bed for 4 days in a row. my husband finally said "i know you're enjoying your new books but can we please hang out!" which i replied to with "of course!". i think all sorts of things can suck you in but balance is key! good post!

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  14. I love Adie's "analog tweeting" idea! I just started writing a journal (like a real journal, with a pen and everything!) and it feels really good. Maybe that's why I haven't written a blog post in a few days haha ;)

    I think one of the reasons Twitter and everything can get so addicting is because there's always someone out there to talk to! I know that being a WAHM, sometimes it feels a little boring or lonely, like I'm the only one not at work. When everyone else is busy in real life, there are always people out there on the good old internet.

    I definitely have an easier time "unplugging" during the warm weather months though because there's so much more to do. Winter time is harder though when you're stuck inside all day : /

    Anyway, another nice and thoughtful post, Danielle, thanks!

    This is the longest comment I've ever written :)

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  15. I can relate.. Mostly this is the reason that I got rid of my Facebook when I got married and then became a mom. I want to spend more of my time focusing on living life and not posting about random things with other people that I know they'll be interested in..

    I don't feel the need to know what is going on in everyone's lives although I can say Instagram has been my little taste of that whole world since leaving social networking all together. I like to catch up on the blogs I read, but even then I notice that I could be spending time with my two year old instead of hearing people talk about their great weekend with theirs. It's a double edged sword, and like you said.. I think moderation is the key.

    Keep it up Mama and good for you for noticing that a little bit of unplugging and logging off can keep your heart where it needs to be!

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  16. I'm a mommy to a 10 and 6 year old. I work full time and already struggle to spend quality time with them. I don't have the internet at home and I don't have a twitter. Sometimes my kids will catch me on facebook while were out to eat and they yell at me.

    Nobody is going to be upset that you'd rather be more connected to your family (and yourself) rather than twitter.

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  17. I love how you said that you weren't really 'living' life - I think people often try to publicize their experiences before they soak it all in personally. You get caught up in 'the story' rather than the experience. I'm sure every blogger, including myself, is guilty of that.
    Also, planning on any beach trips this summer? I think you'll enjoy my post: http://brookefortson.blogspot.com/2011/04/mommy-memo-beach-baby.html
    I enjoy reading your blog - thank you for your positive energy, open dialogue and sweet stories.
    Brooke

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  18. This is a very eye-opening post. I had a twitter account awhile ago and decided to give it up. Balance truly is key.

    Oh, and I LOVE working out without my phone. It truly does become "me time".

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  19. yes i get this 100%! i deleted my facebook because it was starting to become too much. instead of picking up the phone, or writing an email or even a snail mail letter to my friends to keep in touch with, i would facebook them. i lost touch of how impersonal social networking can become. its been a whole year without facebook. at first it was hard, but now it feels amazing.

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  20. i can totally relate. about a month and a half ago i had enough and got rid of facebook, and that's helped a lot.

    now i make an effort to have a purpose when i get on my laptop.. to blog, to check my reader, to look something up.. because i lose a ton of time to floating around the internet doing nothing if i'm not careful.

    my husband and i might not be able to have any more babies and i realized i was spending a lot of time living in this weird internet world as opposed to in the real world with my real family. : ) i thought about what if this is my only baby and i can't remember every bit of his babyhood because i was lost on my computer.

    don't get me wrong, i lurve the internet. i really, really love blogging specifically. i think living your life fully enhances your blogging. you just have to have balance. maybe my posting will be more infrequent but my content will be better if i'm present in my life. and duh, unplugging makes me a better mama and a much more fun wife because my head's not elsewhere wondering how i can make this or that's awesomeness translate through a blog post. : )

    all that said, it's really hard sometimes!

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  21. I pretty much disagree with this entire post. I wrote a response in my own blog: http://shortgirlphoto.blogspot.com/2011/04/plugged-in.html

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  22. I used to have twitter and facebook, but could never think of good enough 'tweets' so I cancelled that. And then about a month ago, I found the same thing- that I was just always going to fb instead of calling, or reading a book. So, with a big sigh, I hit the 'delete' button and never looked back. Now I have more time for everything- including my darling husband and kids :) Good for you- unplugging is the way to go!

    Here's my 'facebook free' post I did when I cancelled it!

    http://thesehappymichies.blogspot.com/2011/03/facebook-free.html

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  23. Ahhh these were my thoughts exactly!! I have been struggling with this so much lately. You are such a lovely and wonderful momma!! I can't wait to meet up this summer.

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  24. I had a similar realization the other day in a yoga class. The instructor had us lay down completely relaxed. We kept laying there and laying there, and after what seemed like forever (probably more like 30 seconds) I started thinking about all the things I should be doing instead of just laying around literally doing nothing.

    Then it occurred to me: why is it that I had such a hard time just laying still for what was probably no more than 5 minutes?! Why was that so hard?

    I think a new mentality has come with all our new technology, including social media and the constant stream of communication. We are used to everything being immediate and huge. Our brightly colored photos can be shared with thousands of people instantly because we have apps instead of film cameras. We can share a thought in a moment because we have twitter instead of lane lines. I believe that these expectations often make us impatient with all things slow and keep us from enjoying those little moments. We have such a hard time slowing down and just living in the moment instead of constantly thinking about the next thing.

    Sorry, long reply, but this has been on my mind lately as well! Thanks for sharing!

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  25. this post is the exact reason why i deleted my facebook account. at first it was like breaking up with a boyfriend, but now i am so glad i did it.

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  26. Excellent post! I've noticed that I don't take nearly as many pictures of my 2-month-old as I thought I would. Pictures are great, but I don't like the idea of experiencing my son through a viewfinder. Like, you I'm not against taking photos. I just want to make sure I'm part of his special moments as well.

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  27. Loved this Danielle! I recently started using Instagram and can definitely see the addictive power. I can relate! I usually try to keep weekends for myself and my husband. I try to stay away from twitter, and facebook and blogging. It's definitely good to get the time to just live life.

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  28. your totally right on here.
    I don't even blog much or use twitter and I have been thinking this myself. Sometimes I will just be hanging out with the hubs watching a movie and I will think "maybe I should go blog right now?"
    What! No! i have to remind myself I am right where I should be. Just sitting around, hanging out with my husband, spending quality time.
    Thanks for the reminder :)

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  29. So great! Sometimes ya just got to back up and look at the way you are doing things, get a grip etc. I too had to "unplug" a bit and I am so much happier!!

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  30. Girl, you are NOT the only one! :) I have started limiting how often I tweet and how much time I allow myself to spend online. It's good for the soul (and it's YOUR life)! :) Live it up girl!

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  31. Wow! I can totally relate to that...
    The funny part is that nowadays I only connect with my "real life" friends... I've also restricted the number of hours I spent on the pc.
    That's so healthy! Glad to know you've decided to do it too. ^^

    Duda

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  32. Good for you for recognizing the hold technology had on you personally. Sometimes I feel badly for being on my computer all day (I work from home), including when my husband and I are just chilling out watching TV. Usually at least once at night I'll put the computer down and snuggle until he gets too warm (he's a warm-blooded man, that's for sure) and then I'll jump right back on. I guess it's all about balance - if you let it run your life, it will, and if you let it just be a part of our life (we do live in 21st century America, it's a little unavoidable at times), it will be that too.

    Best wishes, as always.

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  33. I feel like I could sign my name to the bottom of this post because I can completely relate.

    Like we've discussed, you and I are a lot alike. We are liddo social butterflies, people listen to us, etc. So of course it comes naturally for us to want to share our thoughts & life with the rest of the world. But when does it become too much?

    I think you said it best when you stated that everything in moderation. Yes, yes yes. Glenn and I often discuss how immersed we {especially me} are in social networking/the internet. Part of it is our careers--as designers we are undoubtedly on the internet A LOT. But I've been giving it a lot of thought lately and you're totally right; I always want to tweet/instagram everything instead of just enjoying it.

    I love you & your wonderful writing. <3

    ps; I left a comment on Fenn's post in which she disagrees with this post; http://shortgirlphoto.blogspot.com/2011/04/plugged-in.html

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  34. Amen, Sister! I have just been recently realizing how much time I spend absorbed in the www. I also have a new baby and have been getting really frustrated with my ability to multi-task, read blogs, work on my blog, edit photos, send emails etc while she's nursing! I'm joining you on the detox.

    XO
    Kacie
    www.acollectionofpassions.blogspot.com

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  35. I am definitely guilty of this too! I was at yoga, arrived 10 minutes early. I went into the room to sit on my mat and decompress, only to find myself reaching for my phone after about 30 seconds. I didn't even have my phone in the room, it was just a natural reflex that made me realize "ok Mandy it's probably time to chill with the technology and urge to tweet everything." haha

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  36. It amazes me how much you blog ladys tweet,blog,facebook,giveaway,,then read your other friends stuff too and keep up.. I just discovered this blog world..I knew when I did I would not want to share my life like that. I enjoy being in the moment w/that person and that person only. Good luck on unplugging! It really surprises me how many mothers prefer the internet than read a book to their child.

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  37. totally agreed! you had linked an article, "was facebook making me a bad parent" a little bit ago, and it coincided with a discussion i had with my husband.
    wrote about it here: http://jooleedoh.blogspot.com/2011/04/heres-thing.html

    it's definitely good to use technology in moderation.

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  38. I can totally relate. I just recently wrote an entry over on my blog about living in the moment...it isn't so much focused on the social media aspect, but the sentiment is the same. There is so much out there to distract us from experiencing the "now." Glad you shared this!

    Here is a link to my blog entry if you're interested:

    http://www.myowleyes.net/2011/04/life-moves-pretty-fast.html

    xo
    toridawn

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  39. oh wow lookit that view. beautiful! :D

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  40. i love this post! i think i get caught up in it a lot because i'm at home a good majority of every week. i don't go and do stuff much simply because of the economy, but i did notice that whenever i actually did stuff that i loved and enjoyed the first thing that popped in my head was "oh i need the camera, i need to take pictures. i need to blog about this. i need to tweet about this." and i didn't like that because it took away from me just enjoying myself and just experiencing whatever i'm doing. while sure, some things i would like to remember to take the camera and share the experience with other people who read my blog or even tweeting about.. i still need to remember to just enjoy it and not worry about blogging about it or tweeting about it. so on my own level i can identify with how your feeling. i think unplugging is definitely needed in this technology focused world. :] ♥

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  41. This, this, THIS! Usually I'm on my laptop while nursing Aura and the other night I thought:'Wait. Look at this beautiful babygirl lying in my arms. LOOK AT HER!' In 10 years from now I don't want to regret missing out on snuggling and staring at her beautiful little face because I was spending time online. Yay for less virtual life and more real life!

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  42. I recently quit Facebook and definitely feel like my has cleared a little. Your posts makes me realize I need to take a step back from Google Reader and Twitter. While awesome tools they can definitely interrupt the natural flow of life.

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  43. Great post. I've had to make a concerted effort to unplug once in awhile... and when I am online, to concentrate my efforts more on interacting and creating than wasting my time... you know how the Internet is, you go to look up one little thing and the next time you look up it's 2am. :D

    After I moved last summer I couldn't afford home Internet, and actually spent about four months with my only Internet access being the coffee shop. I'd spend some weekend afternoons there doing email and stuff, but I spent ALL of my evenings running my dog, reading books (I don't have a TV either, I watch any shows I want to watch online), and relaxing. It was actually a very low-stress way to go... I'd probably go back to it if I didn't have a roommate.

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  44. Little Gray Pixel, I realized the same thing about me and my S.O. over the weekend. A few minutes into peeling eggs for a seder, I exclaimed like it was some huge revelation, "Hey. It's really nice just sitting down and talking without technology between us!" I felt wistful that we don't have more occasions to do manual labor--or its less cumbersome cousin, "tiny chores"--together. After that, I'm making an effort to actually set aside a few minutes a day just to listen and talk to him, sans anything electronic between us.

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  45. This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. I keep saying I'm going to unplug for awhile, but have yet to do so. You've definitely me inspired me to give it a try!

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  46. YES! I know exactly how you feel. I've been trying to work out a balance, lately. It's super hard when I feel like everything I think or have to say is important ;) But then, its like, how do we all get that balance?

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  47. I can totally relate to this, especially being a teenager wig our hold social worlds practically revolving around facebook. To be honest, I struggle so much to stay off of the computer and get out there and live. Lately I've been trying to be on the computer less, and I've had a lot more time to spend with friends or to do fun things, and it's been nice. Although at the same time, I've been avoiding blogging, and I feel like I am falling so far behind, and I dont like that. A happy medium needs to be found.

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  48. i can totally relate to this. great post!

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  49. my oh my did you hit the nail on the head.
    loving your new perspective! especially with your little guy. it will definitely pay off as he gets older. max always notices the difference between our time together when i'm multitasking and when i'm 100% focused on him.
    thanks so much for the reminder!
    xoxo

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  50. I really can empathise with this right now as I totally 'unplug' every now and then, i sometimes find mysef wishing for the days pre-social networking when life was so much simpler :) but you do have to move with the times so i do eventually plug back!

    Right now I am so fed up with hearing 'did you see what so and so put on facebook......' i have totally quit fb!

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  51. i know exactly what your talking about! so much so that i canceled my FB account and refused to join twitter and a lot of the other sites too. i also LOVE to read blogs, especially this one(!), but don't comment b/c that would take up a crazy amount of my time. i just get sucked into all of it so easily that it takes time from my family and life.

    i really like how you keep it real and enjoy your blog. thanks.

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  52. I gave up facebook & twitter for lent & at first it was hard but now I've got it back I'm not that bothered about it. I'd rather write a blog post when I feel like it than bore everyone with every little detail of my day.

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  53. I've come to realize that this is an issue for me, too. I make a conscious effort most nursing sessions to put my iTouch or iPad and just focus on Ev & I ... but then I catch myself reaching for the iTouch to just "check one thing".

    It is hard to unplug when there are opportunities to be plugged in all around us. I need to make a better effort at this, though.

    It is comforting to know that I'm not alone - but it is still a bummer!

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  54. Hi there! I'm a new reader (saw you on KylaRoma.com!)and I totally agree with you on this. I took a good 3 month break from Twitter during the holidays, unfollowed everyone except a few news feeds, and ended up not even looking at those. It just got to be too much, and the break was truly amazing. I just got back on Twitter last month or so, and slowly but surely I realized how much I missed it. It's nice to unplug every once in a while, and I totally think everyone should do it!

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  55. Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed it. I took a one week break from facebook/twitter/tumblr/instagram. I loved it! I realized I spent too much time on social media that I wasn't enjoying what was around me. After taking the break, I've sort of re-organized how I use social media. I still tweet here & there, use instagram but it has definitely toned down. I'm using my time to do things I enjoy - blog, read books, make cards, etc.

    So glad to have found your blog. Thanks again for sharing. :)

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  56. I was just talking to my Mister about this. We both tend to reach for our phones when we hear the chime of an update. Or check up on what's going on instead of enjoying our time together, just us two. I'm actually reading this post late because I took a couple weeks to step back from blog reading.

    Great blog as always!

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