First off, let’s get one thing straight: the internet is my favorite thing. Right up there with coffee, wine, and chisel-jawed superheroes. My. Favorite. Thing. I love staying connected with my friends through email and texting, talking with readers and other writers via social media, endlessly scrolling Tumblr for new pictures of Chris Evans, and keeping up on the latest developments in my fangirl communities.
So it may come as a surprise that my entry for our Bad Girl series on guilty pleasures is all about unplugging.
The thing is, no matter how great it feels to be connected 24/7, in this day and age, it means being connected 24/7, and every now and then, it just gets exhausting.
I can always tell when the press of it all is starting to get to me. The flurry of instant communication switches from being vital and invigorating to draining, and I hit a point where I feel like I’m missing what’s happening right in front of me. The tweets and Facebook status updates that usually have me excited for my friends and colleagues make it seem like everyone is having an amazing life except me. Every alert about an incoming email sends a shiver of fear up my spine, because it could mean yet another thing I have to add to my unending to-do list. Hell, even the fan reactions to the latest movie trailer have me feeling like I’m behind on my fangirl activities, and that’s when I really know it’s gone too far.
It’s time to turn it all off.
Sometimes, I unplug in little ways. My husband and I will sit down to binge watch some old TV show, and I’ll leave my electronic friends in the other room. I’ll put my phone on airplane mode before going to sleep so I won’t wake in the middle of the night to that alert light blinking, tempting me to see what I’ve missed. I’ll close Tweetdeck until I’ve hit my word count for the day.
Other times, I go whole hog.
Like right now.
You see, I’m writing this post from thirty-thousand feet, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. My husband and I are on our way home after a week-long vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. We’d been planning it for months, and with everything going on with our careers and our families, we needed the break. Yet still, when the time finally came to leave, I was almost dreading it. I was on deadline and anticipating edits incoming at any minute. I had a workshop to lead at my local RWA chapter meeting in just a few weeks. Captain America 3 was on the cusp of beginning filming. How could I possibly go offline for an entire week???
Easily, as it turned off. And wow, I hadn’t been kidding about needing a break.
Over the course of our stay in Hawaii, we snorkeled with sea turtles and hiked volcanic craters and reconnected with ourselves and each other. I read books instead of articles and blog posts and tweets. I barely checked my email, and I didn’t open Facebook once, and I feel amazing and energized for it.
Now, with those beautiful islands an invisible speck long-gone over the horizon, I’m feeling ready to reconnect and to tackle all the big challenges coming up ahead. I’m excited to see what’s been going on while I’ve been gone, and to get back to the characters I left to fend for themselves for a few days, and what’s more, I have a whole host of new sparks of ideas for stories buzzing around in my head.
I felt awfully guilty about unplugging, but it truly was a pleasure to turn it all off for a little while.
So much of one—and so revitalizing of one—that who knows. Next time I feel the exhaustion settling in again, maybe I won’t even have to be guilty about taking some time to unplug.