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Logging off: Creating a “no notifications” zone
My uncle owns a cabin in the mountains. It’s nestled against a hill on a beautiful piece of ranch land.There’s a stable with horses and a long front porch for watching the sunrise or staring at the Milky Way. The interior is filled with cozy couches, breakfast nooks and huge dining tables to fit the whole family. In the morning, we wake up slowly, quietly. We take our time, because there’s tons of it.
Oh, also — there’s no internet there. Or wifi. Or television. Or phone service. If we need to call someone, we have to drive five miles up the road to a place we deemed the “phone booth.” It’s the only place with cell service, and it’s not great cell service either. There’s just enough bars to make a quick call home. Then, it’s back to the disconnected oasis.
That cabin is one of my favorite places, because when I’m there my phone is silent. No email notifications. No text messages. No missed phone calls. Just a simple black screen. At home, I’m constantly checking each of my apps and message boxes and email accounts.
(Also, I have seven email accounts. Yes…seven. It can get a little overwhelming to say the least.)
I’ve been thinking of my uncle’s cabin a lot lately. Maybe I need a vacation, or maybe I just need a break from all the notifications. I want to get in my car and drive away from my phone, crush it on the road and let all my messages go to the void of iCloud.
But I can’t do that. I can’t just drive to the mountains on a whim. There’s too many articles to edit and quizzes to complete — all of them require internet access.
Instead, I find ways to create a quiet, disconnected space in my everyday life.
I put my phone on Do Not Disturb or airplane mode. Sometimes simply leaving my phone in a different room is effective enough. Then, I read, walk, watch television or any other activity that doesn't involve scrolling.
One of my favorite phone-less activities is going on walks around my neighborhood. Now, I can’t recommend this to everyone. Being without a phone also means taking the risk of not being able to contact someone in an emergency. But for twenty minutes a day, I take that risk. I let myself breathe and forget about the world by experiencing it instead.
It’s easy to forget about the chaos when there’s not a little box in my pocket chirping constantly.
It’s also easy to see how beautiful the world is, and how much of it I’ve been missing.
So, here’s to noticing more. Here’s to paying attention to the trees. The mountains. All of it. Not everyone has an internet-free cabin to escape too, but we all have a button to silence our notifications. Maybe it’s time to use it.