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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Auld Lang Syne-Off

It’s been ten loooong days since I returned home from Scotland. While there, I saw more beauty than I could process. But part of what made the trip so lovely was something very simple: my lack of connectivity. When John and I landed overseas, I turned off my mobile data, and, oh my gosh, was it glorious. Instead of using my phone as a communication device, I relegated it to a photo-taking apparatus, which hardly captured the magic that surrounded me. It was freeing to be without distraction—to not feel beholden to my phone.

My relationship with phones has been shifting for years. Throughout Ramón’s cancer treatment, my phone was my connection to the world beyond the hospital walls. If I’m honest, though, it mostly served as a means to avoid reality. I could get updates from friends, play mindless games, and scroll through endless posts and articles. Ramón and I would compete on Words with Friends, me eagerly awaiting his reaction when I played something like QUIZ on a triple-letter, triple-word combo. Our phones provided us with endless entertainment—and enabled us to focus on others’ situations rather than our own.

When Ramón died, I received so many thoughtful text messages and emails. At first I tried to acknowledge them all, but at a certain point, I ran out of energy. I appreciated the messages, but sometimes responding would bring me down at a time I was trying hard to be up.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s all too easy to feel as though we’re expected to check our phones constantly and respond to every text or comment within minutes of its arrival. We originally got cell phones for the sake of our own convenience—as a way to communicate when we weren’t at our home base.

Somewhere along the way, though, phones have transformed into sources of stress, as though we must drop what we’re doing to respond to the latest goings on. The reality is we don’t need to be on and available every minute of the day.

When we were in Scotland, I put my phone in its metaphorical place. I used it solely for my benefit—and it made the trip all the merrier. As a communicator by profession, it can be difficult for me to draw the line. I tend to believe prompt responses show consideration for others. But I’ve come to recognize the importance of establishing boundaries that enable us to thrive in the present moment. And, for me, that means being deliberate about when and how I use my phone. I want to experience the world in front of me, not the one that exists through the screen.

I’m including some photos from the trip, though they will never adequately portray the fairy-tale-esque atmosphere. These images don’t capture the gusts of wind or the bleats of nearby sheep. But at least they were taken without interruption from an incoming spam call!


2 days ago

I went to Scotland in August and if was incredible. I’m glad you went and enjoyed it as much as I did. Love watching you enjoy life❤️


Mar 26

OMGOSH!!! Scotland has always been a dream place for me. Love love old romantic stories of Scotland.


Mar 26

How fun!!! We are going to Scotland and England the end of May!

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