IRL? What’s that?

Show of hands: How many of you have a smart phone glued to your hand? iPod? Laptop? The list goes on and on.  I am a self proclaimed

Hand holding computer cable and man using laptop

technology addict.  My phone is always in my hand and I love every second of it.  I love being connected, seeing what’s happened, and having the ability to connect with someone new.  My “in real life” or “IRL” experiences are put aside for a lifestyle focused on technology.

A few weeks ago Jeff reached out to me to write a post while he was disconnecting and going on vacation with his family.  DISCONNECTING.  Really?  Do people still do that?  At that time, I wasn’t sure I knew how to do that.  So when he approached me, the first thing that came to my mind was writing about being a millennial that hangs up and goes back to real life.  I am not going to lie to you, this is foreign to me and I may or may not have written this post several different times to even wrap my mind around this.

Around the same time Jeff asked me to write this post, I met someone who literally takes my phone from me and forces me into real life. Shook me up a bit, and slowly but surely I am getting there.  Now that I am on this journey to learning how to hang up and experience real life in that moment, I thought I could share some tips and open up some discussion on why we should experience real life.

Why should I?

I have been plugged in for years.  In high school I always had my phone; in college I always had my laptop; now as a profession, well you know how it goes.  So why would I want to hang up. I didn’t see the harm in always being on Facebook, Twitter, and having access to what’s going on.  When my phone was taken away from me and I was forced to disconnect, it was really jarring.  Why?  What is it that makes me “need” to be connected all the time?

I love it.  I love being able to tweet out experience, connect with new people, see what others are experiencing and being able to reach out to new people.  What’s that all about?  I realized that I was taking away from IRL experiences by focusing on what’s happening online.  Silly really.

Put it away

That’s right.  Do it!  Realize the IRL is important and should never take a back seat to Twitter, Facebook or whatever app you just had to have.  Easier said than done right?  I am currently going through this journey and teaching myself to hang up (when appropriate).  I wanted to share the top 5 things that I do to try to hang up:

  1. Leave your phone away when out of groups – restaurants, drinks, coffee, etc.
  2. Take 30 minutes after work to decompress – put it all away and do something for yourself – read, go for a walk, listen to some music, etc.
  3. Don’t feel like you need to check-in every second – life is short; you may miss something online but the IRL experience is irreplaceable
  4. Create a calendar or timeline and stick to it – be online but know when you need to check back into the real word
  5. Go away – be like Jeff and make time to hang up.

So now that you know why we love being connected, why we should disconnect, and have some of my tips on how to do it, we want to hear from you.  If Jeff can hang up and leave his blog to some crazy people like myself, why can’t you?  Share some thoughts, tips, and critiques.  Let’s hear it.

Teresa Cantwell is the marketing and community manager at EXPO Communications, Inc. Teresa spends her days getting to know the EXPO community and helping provide a platform for consumers to voice their unbiased opinions through a variety of programs.

5 Responses to IRL? What’s that?
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jeffespo and JobShoots, JobShoots. JobShoots said: IRL? What’s that? #news #socialmedia […]

  2. Jon Thomas
    October 21, 2010 | 2:22 pm

    My experience with Twitter was amplified when I started attending conferences and meeting Twitter friends IRL. There’s still some awkardness when trying to approach someone and say “Hey, I follow you on Twitter…so…we should like…talk.” Though that’s just my fear of awkward situations. I’ve never met anyone from Twitter IRL who hasn’t been pleasant.

    After connecting face-to-face, the desire to help the other person and share their content/business was increased tenfold. I highly recommend getting away from the dim glow of the laptop screen and start looking into people’s eyes.
    Jon Thomas

  3. Teresa C!
    October 21, 2010 | 2:53 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for the comment. I totally agree on the meeting face-to-face. I have met some amazing people IRL and honestly, made some really good friends. I totally support it and think everyone should jump into that.

    My question is when you meet IRL, is your phone in your hand the entire time? Are you ready at any time to jump online or are you immersed in the IRL experience. I unfortunately can say that i am too connected and always have my left eye on the online pulse rather than fully experiencing the now.

    For example, Jeff’s vacation where he completely disconnected and let us crazy kids write for his blog. I don’t know if I could do that. The idea of completely disconnecting to have IRL experience where you aren’t monitoring the online pulse and different opportunities is a tough thing to train yourself to do.

    Ah- who knows, such is life right?.



  4. Jon Thomas
    October 21, 2010 | 3:22 pm

    For me, my phone is not in my hand, though not far away! At conferences the iPad and iPhone stay close because of my affinity for live-tweeting, but at smaller networking functions like American Marketing Association or going to book tour stops for authors, I give them my full attention.

    I love the idea of completely disconnecting, though I also get some weird pleasure out of clearing my inbox (or at least unread items). On my honeymoon I shut off all email on my phone so I was never really even tempted to check it. I didn’t blog either. It was great.


  5. Anonymous
    October 21, 2010 | 3:33 pm

    I can honestly say that disconnecting completely was an awesome experience for me over the past week. Like milk it does a body good.