Airplane Mode

Published in The Britton Journal on July 9, 2015

Lately I’ve been making a point of switching my cellphone to airplane mode at least once a day.

The first time I turned this setting on was when I was thrown in the middle of an argument between two of my friends via text message. I didn’t want to keep getting their messages while I was trying to sleep, but I still needed my alarm in the morning, so I couldn’t turn my phone off completely. And that first night I had my phone in this mode was one of the most peaceful evenings I’ve ever had—so much so that I left it that way for most of the next morning. Not only could I not get phone calls or text messages, but I also couldn’t get any Facebook notifications, tweets, or emails. Nor could I send any myself.

It was wonderful. It felt like I actually was on an airplane, soaring high above all of the trivial little interactions that make up a day on the ground.

It got me thinking that maybe we should more often put an effort towards not only putting our cellphones on airplane mode, but also our lives. We don’t have to purchase an airplane ticket, nor travel far into the sky, to have a few hours of undisturbed peace. I think one of the most detrimental lies we tell ourselves as human beings is that we must live in packs to feel happy and complete. An entire culture has evolved from this idea. We need to constantly be connected to others, whether physically or electronically. We mock the idea of spending a day in our own company. Tables of one and a single movie ticket are the butts of jokes. Not immediately responding to a text message is considered a sin.

But I think the people who are above such constraints are the ones we should most admire, not tease.

 The people who get out of this cycle of pack-life know who they are, what they want to do, and what they believe in. It’s not just a recycled existence through generations. Their own needs and happiness are their first concern, not replying to a “what’s up?” text the second it comes in.

It’s my wish that more people did this. Just by spending a few days in a new place, not knowing a soul around you, can already start to coax yourself out just enough for you to notice. Take a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but couldn’t get it to work with your pack’s schedule. Or, the bare minimum, take a drive to the middle of nowhere with the windows rolled down and your life on airplane mode, and start training yourself into believing that being alone doesn’t mean that you have to be lonely.