summertime unplugged project

Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012

I am a contradiction.  At times, I am predictable and safe.  At times, I am rebellious and spontaneous.  At times I am butterfly, full of color and social excitement.  At times, I cannot find a cave dark enough for me to hibernate. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, we too experience these continuous cycles in our lives.  The Tao Te Ching reminds me of this ebb and flow…

Yield and overcome;

Bend and be straight;

Empty and be full;

Wear out and be new;

Have little and gain;

Have much and be confused.

            (Ch. 22 Tao Te Ching, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)

This is the joy of being human – to embrace the highs and the lows both with acceptance and appreciation.  In one of my rebellious streaks, I decided to create an “unplugged project.”  Despite my craving to break the rules of technological advancements, I had to set a few important rules in place.

The terms.

  1. No facebook.
  2. No ipod or other portable device.  My cell phone stayed in a side bedroom, like the good ‘ol days when we had landlines.  I only allowed myself to talk on the phone while sitting on a chair in the room.  I would only take calls while at home where my phone sat waiting patiently for me.
  3. Internet use twice per week.  This allowed me to check emails and news.
  4. No television.
  5. Daily journaling of my experience and any free form writing I was inspired to create.

What did I get out of this project?

loneliness versus solitude

Initially, I giggled with defiance. I delighted in my challenge.  However, as the phone calls slowed, eventually reaching a halt and the chirping birds became my foremost morning companions, tints of loneliness settled in.  I felt isolated and alone.  I listened to my thoughts.  I experienced discomfort.  But the antagonizing awkwardness blossomed into a beautiful solitude.  The chirping birds sang, the wind whispered secrets and my hand led me to creative writing pieces.  Out of this private space came creativity and comfort.

disregarded versus direct connection

As a non-facebook user, I discovered that I was the last to hear news about friends at the gym, when social gatherings were taking place, and what someone was cooking for dinner.  I initially experienced exclusion, but soon found conversations surprising and personal. I enjoyed the direct connection when sharing stories with friends.  I looked into friend’s eyes, noticed expressions on overwhelmed or disappointed foreheads and noticed the pleasant sound of laughter.  I understood my need for direct connection.

stationary is still in style

Writing is sacred.  Writing is healing.  Writing is a form of creativity and expression.  During the project, I witnessed the power and transformation writing in a journal versus the clicking of my fingers on a computer.  First, I had to slow down, as my hand could not keep up with my thoughts.  I felt the softness of the paper on my hand and holding the book.  I also wrote friends and family letters.  I enjoyed selecting special patterns of paper, addressing envelopes and receiving a response in the mail or a call of surprise.  I looked forward to checking the mail or listening to a message.  I found contact with others to be a game and hobby rather than duty.

fully in the moment

The stop light turned red, and I automatically reached for my phone, the phone that was sitting in my room at home.  “But I forgot to get the grocery list!”  I learned to be in the present moment, relying on memory or patience.  Car rides were quiet.  Grocery trips were more frequent, as I could not call my husband and ask if he needed anything else.  For better or for worse, I was fully in the moment.

The main message.

Unplugged projects are fun!  I enjoyed learning about my dependencies and freedoms.  I recognized that I did not want to continue using facebook and have not reactivated my account.  I found out that I could be as drastic or as subtle as I want in making changes in my life in this world full of technological advances.  I look forward to cleansing again and seeing what other lessons I learn.

Thinking about your own unplugged project?  

  1. Set aside a challenging, yet realistic goal.  Do not worry about how others have done it.  Make it personal and special for you.
  2. Tell friends and family members about your unplugged project, so they do not wonder why you suddenly disappeared.  (I set an out of office, explaining that my responses would be several days and to call my phone for urgent matters.)
  3. Write your goals and why you want to try an “unplugged project”.
  4. Have fun.

An excerpt from my journal during my unplugged project…



hidden beneath our words

letters create the courage

our voices were too shy to ever speak

while fingers dance recklessly

lips freeze in fear

rejection bites the tongue

withholding magic

what are we hiding behind



and boldly ignite

the passion that words can spark

from within


feature image provided by Lisa Bebi


1 Comment

  1. I love this idea. I am hoping to do some type of ‘unplugged project’ and this gives a better understanding as to why you did this and what you got out of it.

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