I’m slowly plugging back in after an extended holiday overseas. Last month, I flew to Ireland to help one of my best friends from university get married.

I wanted a true break, so I deleted my email app from my iPhone and didn’t purchase an overseas plan, like I had on previous trips.

As I boarded the plane, I switched my phone to airplane mode.

As I always do before flights, at least since owning a smartphone, I panicked a bit at the thought of being cut off from my friends and family.

How could I share funny photos? Keep up on breaking news? Find out on Facebook who of my friends was the latest to become engaged or pregnant?

For the next ten days, I had patchy Wi-Fi access. If I did have a signal at all, it was painfully slow.

Due to the limitations, I used my phone, and its connected social channels, differently.

I stopped reading Twitter and Facebook for information and news. I mainly used Instagram to post a mere four photos during my trip. I mainly used my WhatsApp to connect with the other bridesmaids travelling from all over the globe, to meet up prior to the wedding.

My phone was in my purse for the duration of my trip. I used it as a convenient camera for rainy moments when I didn’t want to lug out my large DSLR.

After ten days going unplugged, I begrudgingly returned to my smartphone life. My phone buzzed impatiently.

People texted to know where I was. My Twitter app beeped at me. Facebook notifications piled in.

I’ve been on overseas trips before — albeit normally with far better connectivity. This time, I practically detoxed.

And now, a week back, I’m still limiting my phone use.

Yes, I’m sending my mother daily cat photos. And I’m checking Instagram a few times a day. But I’m struggling to engage on Twitter. And I’ve actually moved my Facebook app to a file on the second page of my phone.

I re-installed my work email app, but turned off the new email push notification alert.

And then I read an article on Fusion. Entitled, These people are so addicted to the Internet that they had to go to rehab by Kristen V. Brown, the article takes a sobering look at the effects our digital lifestyles have on our bodies and minds.

While it was easy to scoff at some of the extreme examples (a boy who sat so long playing a video game his leg needed to be amputated, or a girl thousands of dollars in debt from playing an online game) Brown’s own reflections cut a little closer to home.

“I had been without a connection to the outside world for an hour, and could already feel my fingers twitching during lulls in the conversation,” Brown wrote.

Brown’s experiences with her phone access being disrupted matched my own.

“But at what point does Internet use become ‘problematic?’ ” Brown asks.

Every individual clearly has her own threshold.

My brief detox delivered a few important reminders: it’s better to hear a loved one’s voice than to rely on text messages and emojis; cat photos are cute but cat snuggles are better; and the world doesn’t stop just because you miss breaking news on Twitter.

And that wedding in Ireland?

The bride and groom asked for no digital use during the ceremony. For the first time in years, when I looked around the hall at the guests during the vows, every single eye was on the bride and groom, instead of on a cell-phone camera.

***

It’s a beautiful time to be outside. If I see you out and about this week, I hope you don’t have your phone in hand! I see and hear that . . . This Saturday, Aug. 15, is the Pupusa Festival at Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W. The free event runs from 1-8 p.m. and features entertainment and delicious food . . . On Monday, Aug. 17, you are practically required to go to Ethel’s Lounge, 114 King St. N., Waterloo, for the annual Charity Tray Race. Watch as your favourite servers compete in a relay course. All proceeds in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada . . . Speaking of the Internet, there are still a few tickets available for the Ambient Intelligence Internet of Things conference, Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Tannery Event Centre, 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener. Tickets are $220 for the all-day conference, including meals and a networking cocktail event.

Photo: Sheep hanging out at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

About The Author

Kayleigh Platz

Kayleigh Platz is a storyteller and community relations manager for Communitech. Born, raised and schooled in Waterloo Region, she holds two degrees from the University of Waterloo and is interested in new media, social networks and making connections.