My digital detox

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.

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The challange

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.

Pitfalls

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?

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7 thoughts on “My digital detox

  1. I pretty much did one while I was on a cruise for the last week of November. I was out at sea, no wifi and no data for 3 days straight. I gotta be honest with you, I really enjoyed it. I am not a Facebook/Twitter person but I do Instagram. I also work in the technology field so it was nice not to see work emails (which are pushed to my phone) on a daily basis.

    One thing I really did miss, talking/texting my husband. I have traveled overseas before without him but I find it easy to find a wifi hotspot. Out at sea I get no such luxury. I was on the cruise a week and only was able to exchange an email thread for about 5 minutes at a beach. I had to enjoy the beach so I merely told my hubs I was okay and having fun.

    • I definitely found not being able to connect with my friends the hardest part of this challenge. It’s quite amazing how we’ve changed the way that we communicate and connect in the last twenty years or so. When I was a kid, I would go away for a week’s holiday and not see or speak to any of my friends the whole time. Now if I go a few hours without seeing what my friends are up to, I feel a bit out of the loop.

  2. Pingback: The Digital Detox: 48 Hours Without The Internet ♥

  3. What a great post and experiment, dear gal. I try to take at least one day a week off from the web, my cell and TV a week and a weekend (or longer) every month or two. It’s not always possible, but I find that doing so really helps me unwind and feel like a bit of a load has been temporarily lifted from my busy shoulders, so I do strive for it – especially the “tech free weekend”. I love the web and technology and am grateful for them of course, but I also feel like we as humans weren’t designed to just sit in front of our own personal little digital suns 24/7 and that it’s super important to balance the offline world with the online one. We all have such a finite amount of time on this planet. Who wants to spend it all in front of the computer or TV when there is so much more to also experience and savour in life?

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    • Too true. I also think that being connected and contactable puts a huge amount of strain on us. Particularly if you work online, having your ‘workspace’ at your fingertips 24 hours a day can make it tempting to log hours when you should be sleeping or relaxing. I think that stepping away from the screen gave me a bit of space and the opportunity to live more deliberately, rather than frittering time away online.

  4. When I went to Aitutaki for two weeks, it was hard! There was one spot on the island you could get the TEENIEST bit of internet, that was slower then dial up. I couldn’t even upload a photo. The first 24 hours was the hardest. It slowly got easier, and after two weeks, I didn’t miss it much at all. It took me so long to get back into the swing of it. I think I rely WAY too much on the internet & social media. I have to stop myself from carrying my ipad around with me everywhere!! I think I need to do a weekened detox or that, you really do get back to the ‘real world’.

    • A few months ago I went on a holiday by myself and I didn’t take a laptop because I didn’t want to have to lug it around. After I went back to my hotel in the evening, I freaked out because I had “nothing to do” (despite the adventures that were waiting to be written in my journal or the awesome book I’d bought with me). I usually spend an hour or so each night reading through my blogroll and replying to emails, so not being able to access it put me out of my comfort zone.

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