I confess I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with computers.  Back in college, I protested their existence altogether because I thought they would deteriorate our creativity and social skills.  Yes, computers do help us to realize our creativity in new and different and magnificent ways, but sometimes we forget that ideas start with a human being.  And can any of us really say that we haven’t taken to really talking less since the advent of the cell phone?  Yes, we text, we email, we speak over the phone, but the problem with all of this digital “talk” is that there’s no real depth.  We’re all used to instant gratification, and as a result we’re not willing to put in the time to really listen, to connect.  Is a smiley emoticon really an acceptable substitute for a smile?

Our “boxes” – computer, cell phone, TV – certainly make us more productive, but they’re also isolating us from each other.  When you’re sad and having a bad day, it’s hard to curl up in bed with some great e-mails from your friends.

Sometimes you just need real intimacy, and for that you need a person.

So a little while ago, I started turning off my boxes.  First the television for a day, then my computer. It’s interesting what happens when you have to amuse yourself. You get creative.You read a book or cook a new meal or simply spend some time outside. You seek out other people, whether that’s calling your mom or meeting up with an old friend for lunch.  I found that when I turned off my boxes, that time became a gift.

I want to encourage everyone to give themselves this same little gift.  Every day, even if just for an hour, turn off your boxes.  There’s no substitute for a real experience, no connection that can’t be enhanced by taking out the electronic middleman.  So let’s turn off the boxes and make better use of our time, together.


Susanne Veder Berger hid her face for more than 50 years. Now, an amazing surgical procedure has allowed this courageous resident of New York City to show her “true face.” Susanne calls it “Getting Naked.” She’s embarking on a new journey and invites you to join her in confronting challenges, “getting real” and stepping into a fresh, more empowered life.