Why you should unplug from your tech this holiday season

Technology is rampant around the holidays, whether it's gifts or the technology we're using to make the holiday easier and/or more special (like smart speakers, smart lights, new phones, whatever). But that same wonderful technology that keeps me in a job and makes life so much easier can hinder and hide the true meaning of the holiday season.

Now I don't mean to be the luddite Grinch of iMore, but I'm surrounded by tech all day, every day, and even as much as I love it, I was fortunate enough to grow up when the internet wasn't in my pocket (hell, my family didn't have our own computer until I was 15). I remember the simple joy of opening gifts on Christmas morning and then simply sitting around the rest of the day enjoying time with my family and helping to cook dinner and all that fun stuff.

Point is: while giving and receiving gifts is awesome and using tech to make the holiday season more bearable is the future (and the future is now!), it's sometimes better to unplug and get back to people.

Take a break

As difficult as it can be, simply put your phone down somewhere in your house and leave it there. Put the ringer on loud if it's your only phone or even connect to a Bluetooth speaker so that you're alerted even more loudly. It's gonna feel weird and wrong at first, but enjoy the freedom. If anyone really needs to get ahold of you, they'll call; otherwise, texts and email can go unanswered for the day.

You might even find that you enjoy the other things you do more without the constant distraction of your phone nearby. You won't be feeling or checking for phantom vibrations and you won't be compelled to pick it up and browse Instagram while your aunt's trying to tell you all about her most recent knee surgery.

Find non-tech things to do

In the pioneer days, before smartphones, smart TVs, smart speakers, and video games, our ancestors did other things. Take the day off from tech and reconnect with your lineage. Bake something; cook a huge dinner for your family; read; take a family walk; hell, just sit and stare at your Christmas tree if you have one.

All I'm saying that for one day you can take time to do something other than ingest copious amounts of information (both important and frivolous). Your brain will be better for it and you'll probably feel more accomplished for having done something worthwhile instead of switching off and binge-watching something for four hours.

Make a game of it if you have to

If you have a rather techy family and everyone's into their phones and Bluetooth headphones and new video games and whatever, then make a game. Everyone puts their phone in a drawer or closet somewhere. Or at least in another room. First person to check their phone has to wash dishes; second has to dry; third has to prepare dessert; whatever, just take the time to reconnect.

In before indignance

I'm not trying to get up on my soapbox and vilify technology. Maybe you hate your family or have lost too many loved ones to truly enjoy the holiday season. Maybe the holidays simply aren't your thing. That's fine. But we could all use a break to simply take a breath and reflect.

I've been doing a ton of it lately and trying to read more, and I'm realizing that, yeah, technology is important (it's the basis on which I'm paid), but there are far more important things in life, and taking one day or one week a year to truly step back and appreciate the good in our lives (no matter how small) is entirely necessary.

A quote recently changed my worldview: "When we realize how little we mean to the universe, we realize how important we are to each other." Take from that what you will, but realize that, though we may not need other people in the moment, other people might need us 10 times more.

I'm not going to be all "you don't know what you got til it's gone," but as I lose family members (whether through death, divorce, whatever), I feel the importance and the gravity of those relationships.

Just don't get caught wishing you had taken the time when there is no time left to take, y'know?

How do you unplug?

What's your favorite non-tech thing to do during the holidays? Sound off in the comments below. Also, feel free to (respectfully) argue with me. If you don't think it's a time to turn off, then say so. I get that tech can bring us closer when we can't get close enough (FaceTime, etc.), so if you think I'm out to lunch, say so and back it up.

Mick Symons

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.