Internet, Cellphones Increasingly Viewed as Essential

I survived National Day of Unplugging, a day in which individuals are encouraged to disconnect for 24 hours.

Electrical cords connected to multi outlets

Increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential making it harder to unplug. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

It wasn’t easy. First thing Saturday morning I went to check my emails and quickly stopped myself. I also needed to send some emails to keep projects moving but they had to wait until Sunday.

I couldn’t go to the Internet to reserve my DVDs. Instead, I showed up at Redbox and hoped that my movie choice was still available.

I did find myself reading more. And because the weather was gorgeous I spent a good deal of time outside. I wonder if that would have happened if I could have been checking emails or surfing the net?

It’s a question that the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project posed. The answer is that increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential.

According to the survey, more than half of internet users now say the internet would be “very hard” to give up. And among this devoted group, 61 percent said the internet was essential to them, either for work or other reasons.

For something that didn’t exist all that long ago, the Internet has come into wide usage. Tomorrow, in fact, the World Wide Web turns 25.

Also growing in importance is the cellphone. Today if I leave my house without my cellphone, I turn back to get it. I’m not sure what I think is going to happen without the device, but I’m not alone in this thinking. Cellphone owners are attached to their phones with 49 percent saying they would have a hard time giving them up, which is up from 43 percent in 2006.

The survey also found declines in televisions and landlines. Surprisingly, the level of attachment for social media remains low. Only 11 percent said it would be hard to give up, while 40 percent said it wouldn’t be difficult at all.

Take the Challenge — Unplug

The other week I connected with three friends over dinner. We try to get together regularly, but with busy schedules it’s not easy. We had lots to catch up on but first things first…. We had to update our status and location on social media. And, of course, a few times through the meal at least once of us replied to a text message or looked something up on Google.

What does it say about us that we couldn’t go an entire meal without being plugged in?

Are you up for unplugging for 24 hours?

Are you up for unplugging for 24 hours?

How’s this for a challenge? Tomorrow beginning at sundown is the National Day of Unplugging, a 24-hour period running from sunset to sunset March 7-8.

Instead of chronicling your every move or stalking your friends on Facebook and Twitter, instead of reading a book on your Nook or Kindle, instead of texting a loved one, unplug.

Use the 24 hours to unwind, relax and reflect. You can go outside. You could meet friends for lunch, but only if you put your electronics away. You could go to the library and check out a book.

I haven’t gone so far as to sign the pledge as I’m not sure I’m going to make it 24 hours. I’m glad I was able to publish this blog today. I suspect I’ll be on Facebook catching up on the latest before going dark. But come sunset on Friday, I’ll shut down my devices and see if I can make it 24 hours unplugged.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge?