Well folks, I'm here to report that digital detoxing is hard. Perhaps even close to impossible given my current situation across these past few (attempted) days that has included - a traveling hubby (that I actually did want to talk to here and there), a terrible sense of direction (even when going only a few minutes from my capitol hill stomping ground (!)), and a blossoming health + wellness consulting business that I've been compelled and excited to continue to promote.
Though the true detox lasted only about 12 hours, I am quite proud of myself for attempting this break AND despite a few slip ups, did continue to get back on the tech-free-horse across the 48-hour period. Additionally, the act of declaring (via social media + email out of office) that I was, indeed, signing off for a bit, was an accountability lever that paid off in surprising ways. Like when I was called out by my older brother for texting his wife in response to her inquiry re: how the heck to get into Roses Luxury (a hot restaurant in my 'hood that doesn't take resis) - and a process that I love to explain (you must get in line by 4:00 PM, bring a book and a folding chair, doors open at 5:00 you'll be all set. I'll bring you tea if you're really lucky). It was nice to know that my friends and family were actually taking my desire to disconnect seriously. Plus I got a few 'wow - thanks for doing this - you've inspired me to one day do the same' - and holy heck, I really did appreciate that!
Across this short but meaningful period, I learned quite a few things about myself and the devices upon which many of us so heavily rely. The 2 days of attempting to rid myself of technology was illuminating, challenging, imperfect, but ultimately, quite fun. I do believe it was an important experiment and a practice I plan to incorporate more solidly into my weekly schedule - even if it is for only a few hours of tech-free chunks in on a designated day. Here follow a few things I learned about myself while on this detox:
- I have no idea where the heck I'm going. Embarrassingly I rely on google maps FAR too often and it's time to brush up on (ok ok, actually LEARN) where the heck I'm going once and for all. Map time. Go.
- I really like being connected to friends and family via my phone BUT not at the expense of the live person I'm with. Moreover, the act of not having a phone constantly on me at all times gave me moments to chat with strangers, observe more of the world around me (even while riding the subway), and generally have a better sense of surroundings (which is an issue per #1).
- I rely on my phone for SO many basic things beyond social media and email. Like my alarm clock, my weatherman/woman, my music, my excuse to not make conversation in an elevator. It's wonderful to have so much in one place but also important to remember that I can seek these items elsewhere, without so MANY other distracting bells + whistles. And it's time to just buy an old-fashioned alarm clock. Seriously, man up and do this.
- I do not need to check instagram and email every 5 minutes. As much as I love receiving emails and insta likes, the world will not end if I don't respond to a note or comment within seconds, and the quality of my life, and thought processes only improve without incessant distractions and the hopeful anticipation, positive reinforcement + addiction cycles these habits incite. It's time to take a wee step back.
- Reading is much easier and much more enjoyable when I don't have my phone to distract me every 30 seconds. I actually finished 2 books I'd been dragging out and it gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and joy.
- I love to write! I found myself longing to type and write (which was good to recognize!) but writing the old fashioned way can be quite enjoyable and tends to make for more focused reflection.
- Technology can be incredibly helpful, powerful and enjoyable, but there is a thin line between helpful utilization and complete addiction. It's informative to acknowledge and recognize what side you live on and the ONLY way to do this is to play the game of going without. It exposes your vulnerabilities and then you can address them.
- Without a phone to check first-thing, it was much easier to foster a morning routine and much easier to set my own tone for the day - writing an intention, jotting down a few things I was grateful for, not relying on the social media/emails/likes I received while asleep to dictate how I felt first thing.
- Taking a tech free break actually enabled me to (finally!) dust off my old paintbrush and get more in touch with my artsy side. Something I've been meaning to do for a while but just hadn't had the time or space.
- Technology can be a great way to busy ourselves when we don't want to feel something - loneliness, sadness, boredom, fear, etc. But actually taking a deep, brave breath and being with these sensations (as touch and scary as it may seem) can help to address and release them much more quickly than just turning to a flurry of constant digital distraction. As Paulo Cohelo writes in The Alchemist, "You will never be able to escape from your own heart, so it's better to listen to what it has to say."
For me, I realized through this digital detox that I'm able to listen to my own heart with much more clarity when the addicting pull of technology is kept at bay, and I was able to find some peace and space in the mesmerizing flow of the world all around us. I can already see my self starting to get addicted - to looking up - and I'm very happy about it.