The Importance of Disconnecting

D. Michael Hardy
3 min readJul 30, 2021

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Back in 2019, I remember taking a day off — from all social media, from phone calls and texts, from being social of any sort — in order to better deal with my mental health, and this seemed to upset someone I had been talking to at the time, because this person thought I was “ignoring them.” She believed I should be available to her twenty-four seven, and in fact demanded I not ignore her in the future if I wanted this “relationship” to work. Except, we weren’t in a relationship, not yet anyway.

I calmly explained that I wasn’t ignoring her on purpose, that I just needed a day to disconnect and be alone (something I often do), but this didn’t seem to sway her opinion of the matter and she proceeded to tell me, twice during the phone conversation, that I needed to see a psychiatrist, that I clearly needed help.

This frustrated me a bit and I expect that frustration leaked out into my tone of voice as I explained that taking a day off should be a normal thing, that people should do it more often and would be better off if they did, that it was necessary for my survival on this planet, and in my frustrated state I hoped she would be sympathetic to my plight, but instead, she suddenly hung up on me.

Now, I probably should have called her beforehand, explained that I needed some alone time and why, but in the state of mind I was in, that simply didn’t occur to me. I felt stressed, exhausted, angry, alone, worthless, pathetic — in short, I was depressed. Or, at least I felt the dark cloud of depression looming over me, ready to descend and swallow me whole, and time was precious, so I chose to self-isolate and self-care.

Why was I depressed? No reason in particular. Maybe it was the fact that I’d recently been laid off from my job of six years and was struggling to find my feet again, or that my best friend of fifteen years had committed suicide that previous fall and I missed her, or that I was stuck in a town I loathed with no escape in sight, or that I simply was. Or maybe — all of the above. Depression, in its basic form, doesn’t need a reason to strike, it just does, and usually when you least expect it.

This experience caused me to realize two things: first, any person that is going to hang up on me instead of engaging in an adult conversation and try to understand that I’m in distress probably isn’t worth keeping in my life; and second, this idea that we all need to be instantly accessible through our cell phones and social media is distorting our realities and putting unnecessary pressure on people to remain engaged at all times, even when they don’t want to be or simply can’t handle it.

The notion that we can’t be reached for hours at a time, or for an entire day, seems to be unthinkable to “the addicted”, the people who can’t put their phones down for five minutes, let alone long enough to have a meal or watch a movie.

I see this all the time in restaurants — whole families out together, gathered around a table, shoveling food in their mouths while gazing intently into their smartphones, completely oblivious to their loved ones around them. They forfeit their time together in favor of a virtual existence. They fail to connect on the most basic human levels, and this is reflected time and again in how we treat each other, how we handle relationships, how we deal with life.

These are the people that need the help. It should be the simplest thing in the world to put down your phone and be in the moment, to disengage from technology and enjoy the world around you, to experience the joys of basic human interaction.

It seems to me that we are traveling down a road where technology is swiftly superseding humanity and while yes, this technology does help us connect to people who live far away or keep us in the loop about events much easier than before, it should not be the crutch it has so effortlessly become.

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D. Michael Hardy

D. Michael Hardy is an American writer of contemporary fiction and poetry. He is the author of the books The Ghosts of Us and Pain and Longing.