One thing I really enjoy about sailing life is forced disconnection from technology. Sure, there are systems you can get where you’re connected in the middle of the sea, but to me, it defeats the true purpose of sailing. The true purpose of sea living.
I have two Facebook accounts, one for business and people I’ve met travelling and another for family and long time friends. I don’t accept stranger friend requests on the latter account and have strict “privacy” settings. As I stupidly decided to download Facebook messenger for my business account, I was bombarded with messages from strangers as well as the acquaintances I had met. I had some time, so responded and was then immediately replied to. I became overwhelmed and stressed and turned off wifi.
As the years go by, we seem to lose touch with reality more and more. I don’t mean reality in the sense of sanity, I mean about living and dealing with humans who are actually in front of us. Not the ones we see on FaceTime, Facebook, Skype or whatever else is out there, but the ones that we can touch, hug and can’t turn off.
I’m currently reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, and in the 1600’s, people in New England used to receive letters from ships that arrived from England and sent replies on the ship when it returned. This would take months! On the continent, they used to send messengers to get people which might take days or weeks. No one complained, they waited with anticipation (or maybe dread depending on the theme of the letters!) and got on with their lives. There was no conversations with friends such as, “He read my message like five hours ago and still hasn’t replied. Do you think he’s with someone else?” Or “She read my message a couple hours and now she’s online but isn’t replying, is she mad? How rude!”
People complain the government is watching our every movement, they don’t even care (if you’re behaving legally) or know who you are. You should be more concerned that your friends can monitor your every online movement! How many times have you checked to see when someone who hasn’t replied within 30 seconds, is on another app? I used to! Newsflash!!! Who cares?!?! They have a life and other people in it and they will reply to you when they can devote the time. It doesn’t mean you are insignificant, that they are mad or disgusted with what you said. They have more than one important person in their life and a lot of things to do, so they will reply when they can.
On the flip side, I used to feel this pressure to reply immediately. Why? Because I knew people could monitor my every move and I didn’t want to cause bad feelings. Do you know how tiring and time consuming that is?? When I was living in London and had a monthly plan, I was always connected which meant I was rarely with the people in front of me. I was too busy trying to save the feelings of people who sometimes were on another continent.
Last year, I spent some time with with my sister and her three children. I was there for an extended amount of time so even though I promised myself that I wasn’t going to be on my phone during their waking hours in the house (which truthfully is so little), I justified being on it for a little bit (as if “a little” really exists!) because I was there for longer than a couple weeks. One time my littlest niece came up to me while I was on the phone, grabbed my arm and said, “Auntie, why are you on the phone all the time? I want to play.” I looked into her sweet little gorgeous face and said, “You know what sweetheart? You’re absolutely right. I’m going to turn off my phone.” So mid-message I turned it off and have since changed my way of thinking about the immediacy of replying.
I know people can see I read their messages days previously and haven’t replied. Sometimes I say I saw it and will reply later, sometimes I forget about it all together because I receive other messages that push that one down. Guess what? I haven’t lost any friends, no one has sent me angry messages, they simply accept that’s how I am. They know and trust I’m still their friend even if I haven’t replied for months. I know my friends who do the same still love me and value my friendship.
Life isn’t about having a device attached to your hand, it’s about connecting with what and who is in front of you. Turn off your phone and have a conversation with the person in front of you. Devote a specific amount of time to pay attention to your internet device instead of all day as soon as someone replies. Pick up a pen and write a letter. Do something even crazier and send it, the receiver will be filled with joy! I think you may also notice how much more relaxed and enjoyable life is. I sure did.
I’m writing this early morning in a beautiful lagoon and I can hear my partner getting up. I’m going to turn my phone off, give him a good morning kiss and take a dip in this beautiful quiet lagoon before the rest of the world joins us to appreciate the beauty that is all around us.