Posted by: Erica | April 5, 2010

Unplugged-Part I

March 19th, at sundown, marked the beginning of the first National Day of Unplugging, a 24-hour period of technological silence promoted by an activist group whose mission is to encourage people to ascribe to a modern-times Sabbath Manifesto:  the idea that we should slow down our lives and honor God by taking a rest from our virtual identities, cell phones, and other multi-media connections, and use the newly freed time to reconnect with family, friends, and perhaps the Holy Spirit.  I can support that notion.  It just so happened that March 19th, at sundown, also marked the beginning of our move from the old rental house to the new one.  Coincidentally, as it was the day our utilities were disconnected, when I left work on that Friday evening, I found myself facing an entire week without cable, phone, or internet at home.  I decided to take special notice of the impact that this would make on my life.  And, I found out that “unplugging” can indeed be a spiritual experience.  

I’m not yet fully up-and-running; Yesterday, I briefly found the box with our computer in it and moved it to our bedroom to set it up.  But, Martin, trying to tunnel his way to the bed, came behind me and moved the box back into a storage area, where I fear it is once again buried in obscurity.  Never-the-less, this post is the first of a three-part series to recap the time I’ve spent powered-down. 


Even before D-day (disconnection day), the idea of a week without cable television had me worried.  I didn’t know if our daughter could make it that long without seeing Dora, Kai-Lan, or the “Yo-Gabba-Gabba” crew.  Moreover, I didn’t know if I could survive her in the aftermath of their loss.  I should say, in general, I am careful with how much TV time that Ansley gets.  Just a few months ago, after feeling like both her and Martin were spending too much of our weekends in front of the tube, I instituted a “no TV until after 7 pm” rule in our household.  I took some static for it initially, but even Martin could tell the impact that it made on our family life.  One day, for example, we spent four hours decorating Christmas cookies.  Without the TV rule, there is no doubt that day would have resulted in a different experience–probably me, alone, spending eight hours decorating Christmas cookies.  Eventually, though, I caved under the pressure of Ansley’s whining and Martin’s constant attempts to break the rule.  We returned to our usual ways.  I don’t tend to watch a lot of TV myself, but act as a moderator of its use.  If I were more of a dictator, that use would be more severely limited.  Still, I’ll admit it–more than once, Nick Jr. has been the savior of my sanity.

Our time without cable went much better than anticipated.  It turns out that Ansley has a great imagination and I really enjoyed overhearing her using it.  As she gradually turned her attention to all of those toys we were unpacking,  I gained a new appreciation for her ability to create storylines and mimic the world around her.  At one point, she even asked me what I thought of a story she was telling through her Tinkerbell doll.  Honestly, I think she may be the writer in the family.   

Martin also displayed some rarely seen characteristics.  More than once, I found him with a book in his hand.  And, although it was a science-related one, he was reading for pleasure.  He shared our experience without TV with a co-worker the other day and came home with an interesting story.  It seems that this particular co-worker had also experimented with a no-TV rule.  After convincing his wife to commit to a month-long vacation from television (she had apprehension similar to mine), they were so pleased with the effect on the quality of their family time that they continued the rule for another 12 years!  Among other results, their son became the best reader in his middle school’s history. 

Martin is impressed by the potential positives of a television-free home life and his new mode of discipline is to threaten Ansley with turning off cartoons-forever! But, he’s still not willing to cut the cord.  The other night, as I was clearing a path to the laundry, he was busy moving the clutter between his easy-chair and the flat-screen, which happens to be about the only possession we have that made it through the move without dent or scratch.  Funny how that works, huh?

While I missed several episodes of “American Idol”, am severely behind the plot on “Brothers and Sisters”, and have yet to see anyone’s performance on the new season of “Dancing with the Stars”, I don’t feel the loss.  And I have never been a telephone person, so the fact that we still haven’t un-earthed our handset and re-established landline service is of no matter to me.  If anything, I do feel a little guilty at the thought of how many attempts my family has surely made to call us during this time.  Internet, on the other hand, that was a different story.  I had to face my addiction at the end of last week when, unable to upload any new messages to my Gmail account, I caught myself spending a half-hour on my iPod touch re-reading some of my old ones. 

And I am, perhaps hopelessly, behind with this blog.  The other day a friend commented that she didn’t know how I could just sat down to write and have the words all come out nice and easy-like.  I told her that my problem was the inverse–I have a hard time when I have to keep it in.  Although I have been a prolific note-taker on things I would have blogged about, once the moment is gone, I have a hard time getting back to the initial flow.    That creates writer’s block. 

That whole “don’t know how much you love something till it’s gone” phenomenon holds true.  Being unplugged from blogging made me realize my passion for my writing outlet.   I am also more sure that I wouldn’t have to worry about subject matter if I sought to write professionally.  I had so much that I wanted to write about, but little opportunity to actually do so.  The other day, while I was going through security, one of the guards told me, “You must have a lot of happy thoughts.  I always see you walking around with a smile on your face and it seems like you are someplace else in your mind.”  It’s true.  My thoughts are now on this blog.  While it makes it more of a chore to focus on science, it is nice to finally feel like I am figuring out where career-satisfaction might be found.

I can’t wait to catch back up on here.  Some of my recent motives have been down-right electrifying.  And, summer is looking to be full of potential energy.  Get your fire-wire out–I’m living at high-speed!



  1. I am so happy that you have such joy writing this blog. Yes, the tv can be a big distraction.

    • Thanks, Ruth. I enjoy your feedback, i.e. comments. It makes me feel like we somehow had one of our old-time conversations around the lunch table. Miss you!

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