Unplugged in the Countryside

parrott farm green grass nature alexis chateau

We owe most of our modern marvels to advances in technology. Technology has cured diseases, pumped water into our homes, flooded our night-life with lights, and transported us around the world.

This track record of success has also convinced us that technology keeps us connected. While better communication is definitely one of the benefits it can provide, what it really does is keep us plugged in.

Thus, many people blame technology for the bad communication habits of the current generation. But perhaps it’s time we turn some of that blame on ourselves.

A Distracted Generation

The constant desire to remain plugged in creates a life of constant distractions. No matter how strong your focus, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the low hum of the television set in the living room, or the vibrations of our phones on the bedside table, screaming update after update.

Whether it’s ISIS beheadings or who just liked your picture on Instagram, your devices want you to know it all.

After a while, the fear of missing out becomes a real thing. You want to know what’s happening, when it’s happening, and who it’s happening to. It doesn’t matter if you go, or you help, or make any other valuable input. It only matters that you know.

Thus, we spend more time with our heads glued to screens than we do making conversation, face to face. We have transformed articulate phrases into tacky emojis, and plunged family dinners, and even first dates, into awkward silence.

Real communication has in essence become… inconvenient.

Plugging in for Work

For those of us who work in public relations and social media, this fear of missing out becomes tied to not just our social life, but our job as well. You have to know what’s going on, and clients expect witty feedback on everything from earthquakes to plastic surgery.

For freelancing specialists, the pressure is even more intense. There is no clocking out and going home for the evening, or relaxing on the weekends. Clients want to be able to reach you at all times, no matter where you are.

In short:

Vacations don’t truly exist when you freelance as a content strategist, unless you unplug.

The Deadzone up North

In spite of this, it’s hard to give up social media during a trip. We all want to share our vacation pictures on Instagram and Facebook, and tweet about our most hilarious moments.

But when I go up north with Michael to see his family, I’m probably more likely to be struck by lightning than get proper phone signal, and WiFi at home starts to feel like a lifelong wish.

We wander around the yard at midnight just trying to send a text message; and a hour and a half’s worth of driving to a friend’s house suddenly becomes attractive, because they have internet.

The struggle is real…

Losing Distractions

Last weekend, we went even further into the dead-zone when we visited Michael’s 95-year-old grandmother, on her farm.

We trudged through the open fields, dodged cows, climbed tractors, jumped fences, and went prying in the barn. It was a great reminder that off-screen life can be just as interesting, and even more so because we’re living it ourselves.

But I’d be lying if I said I could live like that for more than a few days, at most. The truth is, though technology has caused us to develop terrible habits, we can’t overlook the benefits.

Not only does it keep us connected with loved ones who live continents away, but it helps us to make it through emergencies, or just to find our way home.

It also helped me to immortalise the experience.

Striking a Balance

At nightfall, after our day of exploring had come to a close, Michael told me:

I’m glad you brought the camera and took pictures of the farm. They’re tearing down all the barns soon. This might be the last time we see it like this – or at all.

Thus, I don’t truly advocate for unplugging. Instead, I advocate for finding a balance in our lives. It’s essential that we continue to harness all the benefits of technology without becoming sucked into the wormhole of the psychological and physiological damage it can cause.

So let’s use our phones to actually reach out to the ones we love again. Let’s send more than a “hey” and “‘sup” or an emoji in answer to our best friend’s rant.

And let’s take pictures that ten years from now will remind us where we were and what we’ve seen and experienced, instead of the amazing contouring we pulled off the night before.

Check out some of the pictures from my rural exploration below.

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33 thoughts on “Unplugged in the Countryside

  1. These pictures are beautiful. They remind me of my grandparents’ farm and I do wish I had more pictures of it.

    I appreciate your honest opinion concerning social media, and I agree with you. A healthy balance is more preferable than a pendulum swing in either direction. I deleted my Facebook. I couldn’t find the balance, but it was the most refreshing decision I ever made. Sometimes I think about creating a new one for family, but I discovered calling my aunts and cousins is way more fun than browsing their pictures. =]

    1. Hi. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures. It was a wonderful experience.

      I didn’t delete my Facebook but I had disappeared from social media for a while. I returned when I started blogging to connect with more readers, and because of work. Unfortunately, deleting isn’t an option for me right now but kudos to you for doing it!

  2. I agree that technology can be waaaaaay too intrusive but it’s virtually impossible to live without. Just the sight of my work laptop (which we were made to take home every night) kept me from properly switching off – it was far to easy to just finish off that email I never got round to sending and still be there an hour later.

    My partner and I engage much less in social media now after seeing so many facebook arguments where friends have taken written comments out of context. It’s so hard to convey tone and so easy to offend people online, especially when people you don’t even know join in. Having said that, social media is a great way of keeping in touch and reconnecting with people that you’ve lost touch with. As you said, it’s all about balance.

    PS Can’t believe the farm in your pics is in America! It looks just like England!

    1. It’s the green grass that makes it look like England! Looks like every English savannah ever haha

      Thanks for dropping by!

  3. I used to have thousands of strangers in Facebook. Then, I had a mini meltdown and turned it off for a year. When I got back on, I deleted everyone except family for the very reasons you mention. It’s made a massive difference.

    1. I still have a whole bunch of strangers on my facebook, mostly because that’s good for marketing for my blog.

      I don’t post anything personal there. Mostly I connect via whatsapp with the people I know best.

      I can just imagine how awesome that must be to have only a small group to connect with.

  4. For me it’s all about balance and managing expectations. I think you’ve really nailed it in this post!

    Coincidentally, I just wrote about similar conclusions in a recent post, though not as eloquently. I’ve enjoyed reading your take on the matter, as always.

    1. Thanks Wade! I’m so behind on your posts! Running two websites by myself has been a real chore, but so great. Just consumes a lot of time.

      I’m sure your post is just as eloquent. I’ll try to catch up when I go back to better internet connection haha

      1. No worries, I’m perpetually behind myself! I can imagine that running both sites can be challenging in a number of ways. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know. Enjoy your time unplugged!

      2. Haha. I doubt you’re worse than me. It’s good fun, but definitely sucks up a lot of my time. We’re heading back to ATL, so about to be plugged in again!

  5. Yes, you do need a balance, but these days, given a choice of no internet or no countryside, I’d go for no internet as I couldn’t live without this place now. When we first moved here, I managed two complete months without the ‘net and didn’t miss it very much, possibly because everything here was so new. (I was born and brought up in a city). These days, the only thing I really miss if I’m offline for any length of time is having comtact with people through my blog. I use Facebook but only to say an occasionally hello to a few people who seem emotionally allergic to email or phone! I love your photos, looks like you had a good time.

    1. I wish I could say the same but I love photography and blogging and couldn’t do that without the internet. It’s my necessary evil.

      I mostly use social media to promote my stuff. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be on there. I do post other things, but that’s my primary reason for being on.

      And thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the photos.

    1. Oh awesome. It must be great. I hope you at least have internet though! Haha. Of course you do, how else would you be on here.

      I’m not sure what kind of tractor it is, but the former owner had an obsesssion with John Deere tractors.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  6. I love the photos. The balance, though, is so hard to find, isn’t it? My husband is a physician, and people expect to be able to reach him all of the time, even when he’s not on call. I finally had to give in and get a smart phone when I realized that the kids’ schools expected me to be able to answer an email the moment it was sent. I would love to give up Facebook, but then I’d miss so many photos of nieces and nephews. Compromise and balance are necessary gray zones, I guess.

    1. Yes, it is. Sometimes I just have to say no. I have a client who can reach me by phone call, text, email, and Asana. He just recently asked me to get an online messenger too. I have yet to respond to that. How many ways do you really need to reach me, esp when he’s never had trouble reaching me via email and phone?

      Balance is hard, but sometimes you’ve gotta put your foot down.

  7. Great photos! I had to close up on one as from far away it looked like you were driving the tractor 🙂 My husband and I got off Facebook 4 years ago and don’t regret it at all, and in January I closed my Twitter account, so my blog is my only “posting” which I prefer anyhow. Our thoughts were if people are our friends they can talk to us 1:1 just like they did before FB! Those who fall off weren’t really friends to begin with. But staying offline can be hard – we laughed when we were in France (we decided not to get SIM cards for our phones to find our way around and just use a paper map) last fall because we kept wanting to google something when we were talking…but it was SO worth having that break! I work for myself and so my smartphone is my second laptop and that was tougher than the personal part but of course no one else noticed at all because I’d said I’d be gone 🙂

    Love the pictures though, once again – reminds me of when I was 10 I got to visit my 94 y/o great grandmother for the one and only time at her farmhouse in Illinois that her father had built and turns out the next year she passed and the farm was sold…I was so glad I had the chance!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I’m surprised they turned out so well. It was raining and the lighting was terrible but that green grass does wonders.

      I got off Facebook and Twitter before, but returned when I realised it was necessary as a content strategist to build and maintain a social media presence. And of course it helps a lot with marketing as well for my websites.

      Amazing what you and your husband chose to do though! That had to be tough!

      Where was the farm? This one was Parrott Farm in Elizabeth, Illinois – a short drive from Galena.

      1. Yeah that’s the double edged sword of working in marketing roles like that for sure. My great grandmother’s farm was in Marion, IL, in the southern part of the state. I remember lots of black and white cows and guinea fowl, and my grandma’s old clawfoot bathtub and screened in porch 🙂

      2. Yes, it is. It’s fun, but that actually makes it harder to stop working and live an actual life.

        I don’t think I’ve ever been there. Maybe we passed through on our way up north though. Sounds like fun and great memories!

  8. Your point of view couldn’t be more true. Myself, I used to live and breathe in anticipation of getting any notifications for social media, etc. I even felt un-liked if people didn’t “like” or respond to the things I was putting out there. The second I saw the LED flashing on my phone I just had to grab it and see what it was. Then, I was promoted to HR Manager in my company, and had to start using my phone and related e-mail and chat applications on my phone, for work. I then began to dread seeing that little blue light blinking at the corner of my phone, especially as the expectation that my boss (at the time) had was that any and all things were handled in a timely (immediate) manner, regardless of day or hour. That little blue light became a mocking beacon of dread. I could never unplug, get away from, or escape from work. Thankfully, all of that has changed, but it certainly did teach me the lesson of being ok to let my phone sit, sometimes even for hours, unchecked of all the little notifications popping up. If someone truly needs me, they can call me.

    1. It’s good to see I’m not the only one who can relate to that. I have a non-work setting for my phone that automatically turns certain notifications off, but of course instagram and other social media for clients are still on. Most of my notifications are not even for me… I sometimes open and close just to get rid of that light.

      Thanks again for dropping by! Glad we found common ground yet again.

  9. Definitely agree! For example, I got rid of my Facebook years ago, but I use texting and blogging to stay in touch with my family who live in a different country. Also can’t find my way around without a map in my hand ha.

    The farm looks lovely, and I like your top!

    1. That’s awesome. I had left social media behind too until I started freelancing full-time. Then it became a requirement for work. Sometimes I wish I could give it all up again. Blogging is a much better way of connecting.

      Thanks for reading! And for liking my top haha

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