LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sharon Sarmiento knew it was time to unplug when she realized she was blogging in her dreams and hearing imaginary instant messages.
For Ariel Meadow Stallings, it was the hours lost while surfing the Internet that left her feeling like she had been in a drunken blackout.
Both women are part of a new grass-roots movement in which tech geeks, Internet addicts, Blackberry thumbers and compulsive IMers are deciding to wrest back control of their lives by daring to switch off -- if only for a day.
One of the most peaceful vacations I've had was in Batanes about four years ago where there was no cellphone service. So all our phones were switched off, leaving us with a few days to enjoy the province, its vistas, and its people. (But then someone temporarily went nuts trying to look for our pregnant masahista...haha.)
Since that vacation, however, I've muted the ring tone to all my messages. I find that I'm not as attached to it as I was before that Batanes vacation when every time my phone buzzed, I would immediately look at it and answer incoming texts. It just frazzled my nerves especially then, when I was still editing the Business Section of a broadsheet everyday.
At night I also switch off all my phones for an uninterrupted night's sleep. One friend asked me what if there's an emergency? I said if it's really a life and death thing, I can always be contacted on my landline.
Thing is on vacations, I can't switch off my cellphone. There was one vacation last year in Cebu I ended up surfing the Internet on my cellphone just to check out the news in Manila. It was crazy.
Since I've started working at home though, I realize that I'm online as soon as I wake up, and way past 2 am the next morning. Though I take breaks (like for meals and wee-wee), I sometimes don't switch off as I wait for important emails to come in. Not only is that increasing my electricity bill, but it's also making me too dependent on my computer and the Internet. So what I do is basically switch off on Sundays. Of course, then I veg out on the couch and watch TV all day. So I dunno if that counts as "switching off."
Anyway, this Sunday, I shall unplug everything — the cellphones, the computer, server, wifi router and maybe the TV too — the entire day. Who knows, I might take up reading a book again.