Unplugged

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Last night, I found myself responding to email and IMing while talking to a good friend about a serious matter. I was being mad productive, but I had to wonder: Have we become disconnected from our lives—even as technology keeps us way too connected to our acquaintances and our work?

I mean, why do I know that the random kid who sat in the corner during high school band practice hated last night’s episode of V, but I don’t yet know what my soon-to-be five-year-old niece wants for her birthday? Steely D and Chloé talked about the charms of a freelance society earlier this year, and it sounds awesome—in theory. But while being a member of said society gives me an amazing measure of flexibility and creative autonomy, I find that freedom can quickly morph into the 24-hour news cycle equivalent of a life if you let it (and we all know how sucky and repetitious that can be).

Quite plainly, technology makes it way too easy to work way too much. When I find myself too busy to call a mentor who left me a message last week saying that she just wants “to hear my voice” (I’m sorry, I love you and promise to call tonight!) because I’m using my digital recorder to interview a five-year-old about his online booger-selling business for two hours, something is seriously wrong.

I’m not saying technology is a bad thing—it allows me to keep up with life outside my apartment when friends send hilarious important links, and I get to see all the new babies in my life by simply logging onto Facebook, plus I get to chat with my girls all over the world (seriously, shouts to my peeps in Shanghai). But I need to do a better job at balancing my tech-enabled work life with my tech-enhanced real life. So I’m making a pledge to myself: I will ignore texts while talking to my grandma in Cleveland. I will stop tapping on my keyboard when my hubby calls to check on me. And I will not read work email after 9 pm.

And if you hit me online late and I respond—tell me to close my damn laptop and get a real life.

Have you ever let tech commandeer your real life? How? And what are your tips for unplugging?

—Kenrya

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