Last weekend, I decided to do a digital detox. I’d read an article in Dumbo Feather about how their entire staff had gone without screens for 48 hours, and I thought it would be a fun challenge. It was a fascinating experiment that taught me a lot about my relationship with technology. Today, I want to share my experience with you.
I decided to go 48 hours without using anything with a screen. That meant no T.V and no computer. I decided that I would leave my mobile phone turned on, because without it nobody would be able to contact me at all and I didn’t want to panic anyone or miss any vital calls. But I made a pact that I wouldn’t use my phone for texting, only calls.
How I spent the weekend
I had loads of fun things planned for the weekend. I took a long walk down the lake. I visited my grandmother. I had a cup of tea with a friend at home. I hung out with my brother. I finished reading a book that I’ve been working on for a month, and started another one. I did a buttload of yoga. I journalled. I knitted and crocheted. I cleaned my flat and cooked. I played with my cats.
By the first evening of my detox, I was tired of reading. I almost never eat a meal without a book in front of me or something playing on the television. I hadn’t noticed this habit until I did my digital detox. And I realised that the reason I do this is to stave off loneliness. I live by myself and I eat the majority of meals alone. Although I’m comfortable in my own company, I felt incredibly lonely without the television on while I ate my dinner. So I relented and let myself watch one episode of That 70’s Show while I munched on my dinner. Then I turned it off for the rest of the weekend.
I usually start the morning by checking my social media to see what my friends are up to and find out what’s going on in the world. On the first morning of my detox, I skipped this step of my morning routine. But by lunch time I was itching to jump on Facebook to find out what my friends were up to. I had this burning fear that I was missing out on a bunch of excitement. I worried that there would be a pile of emails that needed my attention and I really should check them immediately. But I resisted this urge. And by the second day, I wasn’t nearly as anxious to find out what was going on in the online world. And when I finally did check my inbox and social media when the detox was over, I really hadn’t missed anything vital.
Another thing I noticed was how much I missed my online friends. I’m a pretty social creature, and most of my friends live out of town or overseas, and we communicate primarily using online tools. While I didn’t miss the constant chatter of my inbox or social media feeds, I did miss the connections I have with those wonderful people that I care about. While it was nice to have some time to myself, I did feel quite lonely and a bit isolated. A few times those feelings were quite overwhelming. It was a relief to reconnect with my friends at the end of the experiment.
What I learned
I learned quite a bit during this little experiment, so I’m going to break down the lessons into bullet points for you:
– I use social media and television to deal with loneliness. While this in itself isn’t a bad thing, I’d like to work on being more comfortable in my own presence so I’m less reliant on this technology.
– I find some tasks incredibly boring without the television blaring in the background. I struggled to get through my ironing without a movie to watch, and even crafting became a bit mundane after a while. I really have become used to distraction and multi tasking. I’d like to become more present, but at the same time if a movie helps me to get through a boring chore, then I don’t see the harm in it.
– I spend A LOT of time procrastinating online. I got a lot more done when I didn’t have Facebook and Twitter to distract me. I’d really like to work on limiting my social media time to help me get more out of my days.
– It’s perfectly OK to go without the constant chatter of online interaction for a while. In fact, it was pretty darn refreshing. You’re unlikely to miss anything vital if you stay away from Facebook or Twitter for 48 hours.
– Social media isn’t all bad. My online presence has allowed me to meet some awesome people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and gives me a whole new outlet to communicate with people. While some of these relationships are pretty superficial, others have grown into intimate friendships with people that I adore and support. And I truly missed these people when I was away from the internet for the weekend. I think I would be a much lonelier person were it not for my online friendships.
Have you ever done a digital detox? Would you ever take the challenge? What are your thoughts on your use of digital media and do you think a detox would help you evaluate your habits and feelings?