COMMENTARY | The way to reconnect is to disconnect. It sounds like a paradox, but wisdom often does. We all know, however, that sometimes the technology designed to keep us connected is exactly what caused us to be so disconnected in the first place. Smart phones might be intelligent, but they lack wisdom. They don’t know that if you want to give the gift of your presence you have to unplug occasionally. I’ve missed several holidays (in spirit) because I was too busy responding to texts and Facebook messages or answering phone calls to notice my own absence. I know I’m not alone in that. So I’ve devised some ways to reclaim family time.
I’ve learned to make use of away messages. Away messages can politely let people know you’re disconnecting for the holidays. Use automated email responses, Christmas Eve status updates or pre-holiday texts to say you’re going unplugged for a while. You can send a message that gets right to the point, letting people know that you’ll get back to them later. Or you can aim to amuse.
I’ve realized that keeping the message lighthearted is effective. That way, at least callers are entertained. You can set these as automated replies, as status updates, or as tweets. You could even set your voicemail message to say something clever. I’ve come up with some silly little limericks that get the point across fairly well.
I’m unplugging just for the day
You can reach me in only one way
If you know where I am
Please come have some ham
Or I’ll catch you tomorrow, ok?
This one’s my favorite:
Holidays come and go fast
In a blink of an eye they have passed
I’ve unplugged for the day
But I’d just like to say
Please do not think I’m an ass.
Just follow it up with a, “Happy holidays!” People will understand your sentiment.
I do make sure to call long-distance travelers, along with elderly.or sick family members and friends in advance. During certain emergencies, being interrupted is fine. You can let those select few people know that your message doesn’t apply to them and set a certain ringtone for those callers. Put all others on silent. You can feel secure that those who are most likely to have emergencies will know how to get in touch. But your entire holiday won’t be spent unnecessarily answering random calls and texts. When taking calls is absolutely necessary, take your conversation outside so you remain keenly aware that you’re missing out on family time while you talk.