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Survey Shows 60% of Us Never Unplug – Or Does It?

There’s a post making the rounds these past couple weeks which purports to show that most Americans rarely or never fully disengage from the gadgets that clutter up our lives. While that statistic is disheartening, I am not so sure that it is quite as bad as it initially sounds.

A polling service by the name of Civic Science recently revealed the results of an online poll which showed that 43% of respondents never disconnect from their gadgets, while 17% only disconnect a few times a year:

plug-personal-technology-mobile-phones-tablets-laptops-computers-readers-tv[1]The graphic from CS doesn’t look so well when it’s shrunk down, so you might want to click it and see the full sized image.

When I first decided to write this post, I had intended to mention my efforts to build a disconnect into my lifestyle; I don’t have mobile data, or a smartphone, and I usually disconnect from the internet a couple hours before bed. But as I started to think about the survey I realized that I don’t agree with its definition of disconnecting.

My problem, really, is that the survey doesn’t appear to factor in how and why we use our gadgets.

For example, you can disconnect from your Kindle – and then pick up a paper book. Or you can disconnect from the mp3 player which you are using to run your stereo system – and then turn on the radio. You might also disconnect from your TV – and then go to a movie theater.

Am I the only one who doesn’t see a fundamental difference between the activities?

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jjj August 12, 2014 um 12:57 am

The poll is about the use of personal technology, if we spend any time without gadgets, not about activities and i guess it’s up to the responder to decide what disconnecting means.
Movie theater is social and not personal tech, paper book is not tech, radio ,mp3 player, ereader ,TV are. Doesn’t offer much insight and it pretty pointless.

See this last week ?

Nate Hoffelder August 12, 2014 um 6:41 am

Except that in reading a paper book you are shutting people out just as much as if you were reading a Kindle. And when you’re sitting in a darkened movie theater, you’re not interacting with anyone – just like you’re not interacting when you watch a movie on a tablet.

AltheGreatandPowerful August 12, 2014 um 2:19 am

I am with Nate and disagree strongly with you, jjj.

A paper book is tech, its just lower tech. It is stored information, a single-function gadget. I have bookshelves full of these gadgets, I sold them for a living, while I was in grad school. I have an ereader now because it is a lighter stack of books.

And I go to movies to WATCH THE SHOW, there’s nothing social about it except I do it in a room with others WHO I DO NOT INTERACT WITH… so its all about the technology to display the movie to me.

Doesn’t matter, though, I am not the demographic these folks are preaching to (or about).

jjj August 12, 2014 um 5:20 am

By your logic any object is tech , any tool any landscape ,staring at the stars is tech.
As for movies, people go on dates, go with friends and if it wasn’t for that movie theaters would be dead. We already have plenty of ways of watching at home and soon we will have betters ways of watching better media at home with Oculus like glasses.
Just because you do something in a certain way doesn’t mean that the world does it the same way. If i had 12 hands i would argue that everybody has 12 hands even if i can see they don’t.
This might also help

fjtorres August 12, 2014 um 7:05 am

Of course it it tech.
All human inventions are technology.
The lever and the wheel are tech.
Huts and lean-to’s.
Spears and atlatls, bows and arrows.
Sundials and water wheels.
All tech.
And yes, books are tech, too. Took a lot of time and effort to refine both the printing and binding sides of the invention.

Trying to draw a line in the sand to separate "good" old tech from newer "bad" tech is just a luddite pipe dream.
We all of us live because of tech. Without it life would definitely be "brutish and short".
Very, very short.

Want to disengage from all gadgets? Head off to the woods barefoot and naked.
And good luck there.

Nate Hoffelder August 13, 2014 um 12:15 am

That isn’t my point.

My point had more to do with how tech gets in the way of interacting with the people around us, and that even if we disconnect from the personal tech we still tend to use other stuff which has the same result of cutting ourselves off.

fjtorres August 13, 2014 um 6:35 am

And I’m agreeing with you:
Focusing on the "bad" tech is just ignoring the real issue: human behavior.
Tech is just a tool.
You don’t blame a hammer for the way it is used or misused.

Nate Hoffelder August 13, 2014 um 7:07 am

Oh. Okay.

Juli Monroe August 12, 2014 um 8:58 am

Disconnecting from gadgets seems to be the new fad. Lots of people write about digital disconnect like it’s the Holy Grail of something. Yes, some people are probably too tethered to their devices. It annoys me greatly when the person in line in front of me can’t stop talking on his cell phone long enough to order food and get out of my way.

However, there’s a big difference between that activity and reading on a Kindle in the evening. I do choose to put my phone in "Do Not Disturb" mode after 6 pm because I don’t want to deal with the "ding" of an incoming email. However, that certainly doesn’t mean I turn off my Kindle or my iPad. Just that I choose to not be bothered if I don’t want to be.

Nate Hoffelder August 12, 2014 um 9:41 am

It is a fad, yes. I think the current popular term is digital detox.

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