Disconnect to reconnect
At a time where it is increasingly easy to be connected to the world around us, yet be so incredibly disconnected from real life, Iluvinvers decided to ditch the cell phone, the tablet and computer and go off-line to reconnect with actual people in the community. We made a choice to have a good old fashioned coffee morning at a local cafe where devices were not allowed, with an open invitation to every one – all in an effort to reconnect with each other face to face and do what we do best; talk and create new friendships. It wasn’t so long ago that this was the main method of keeping up with what was happening around us; what was new; what was going on in the neighborhood, in our extended families, and sometimes even around the world. Great conversations and discussions were once had over a cup of coffee, often in the lounge or kitchen of someone’s house. These days it’s increasingly being replaced by a lonely figure sitting behind the computer or another device, scrolling down one of the many social media sites on the internet.
We depend and use technology in everyday life and it has been proven by many studies conducted that this style of life is not necessarily in the best interest of human kind. It is becoming more and more difficult to ‘switch off’, with social media sites on the rise, and a thousand ‘apps’ available for just about everything under the sun right there on our mobile devices. The same mobile devices that were supposed to make our lives easier, safer and more connected are now contributing to the lack of face to face contact, the in-ability to communicate effectively and is leading to a life of isolation amidst a crowd of people around us. When we choose to look down at our devices to check statuses, updates, uploads and emails, we fail to ‘see’ the people around us and miss out on vital connections. And no, we aren’t anti-technology, not at all, it certainly has many advantages and we use it often ourselves. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family that don’t necessarily live within your immediate area, it can help put you in touch with others who have similar interests, it helps you make all sorts of connections. Cell phones are now so versatile that you can have your office with you while you are out of the office, and lets not forget the safety factor of having a mobile device (the ‘safe’ feeling of not being alone). But like with everything sometimes too much of a good thing, well, it isn’t that jolly good. Some time ago I removed all ‘apps’ from my cell phone, including email and all social media. I use my phone, well, as a phone – to call and text. I recently deleted all my accounts on all kinds of different social media/sharing sites, retaining just three (two of those I use regularly, the third only when I remember) but none on my mobile. Why? I discovered how much time I actually spend looking down at my phone, how often I ‘quickly’ checked for status updates or emails in one single day. But I didn’t figure that out by conducting some break through scientific experiment, but simply by losing my phone! I found I all of sudden had a lot of time on my hands! And to begin with those hands did feel empty, but that soon passed. It was during this time that I witnessed a vast majority of people (as in nearly all) in a social setting actually spend most of their time on their devices and ignoring the person they are with. It was while I sat at a cafe (with no phone), waiting for my friends, that it dawned on me I really didn’t ‘see’ the place I frequented so often before. Now I saw the photos hanging on the walls, quite striking they were too; I took in the colour of the paint work; I even saw the concentration it took from the barista to make my cup of coffee. Yes, being without a phone was starting to have its advantages. I was more relaxed, no longer at the beck and call of my phone, I quite liked it. When I finally did find my phone it was a little worse for wear but I was reluctant to purchase a new phone that could no doubt, if you asked it nicely, fly a small plane. So instead I opted for a basic phone and uninstalled all the apps it came with – which it obviously doesn’t like because it keeps telling me to update this and update that. It has no idea I just wish for it to be a plain boring ordinary phone – it pesters me to this day to update stuff, I continue to ignore it. Thankfully it turns out I’m not the only one who has opted to live a less-technological lifestyle. When we decided to extend an invitation for everyone to join us for a beverage without devices at one of the local cafe’s in Invercargill, we weren’t sure if anyone could peel themselves away long enough – but how wrong we were! At the impromptu coffee morning we made new friends from both Invercargill and Riverton, from all walks of life and while we were enjoying our choice of beverages, the world did not end because we didn’t see the status update for an hour or didn’t open that email right away – we had fun, we talked, we laughed, we relaxed – and yes, we’re doing it again in January. Keep an eye out for the invite to disconnect to reconnect – everyone is invited, no RVSP’s, just turn up if you can; bring a friend or not, but leave your devices in your bag – you will survive!