Do you really need a Digital Detox?
Yes. End of Blog Post.
Ok, to clarify I’m not a hater of the internet or technology. I love the internet and do so much online daily. I embrace it in ways most people are still not yet and daily I consider how we can incorporate systems that will improve and empower, facilitating us to achieve whatever it is we desire to live our best lives. Some times my breaks from social media or the internet in general have been bad luck, power cuts, weather related, a factor of country living! Other times it has been a conscious choice. When dealing with difficult situations such as caring for terminally ill relatives as per my most recent absence or other pressing matters, sometimes it just feels a little trivial compared to real life.
I know thee are forums, support groups, advise, information, believe me as a person living with MS I know and applaud them all, but sometimes, silence of the airwaves really is bliss.
Seriously, It’s so blindingly obvious and we all tell ourselves that we don’t use technology that much, we’re not like other people always glued to our phones, we need it for work, we need it for the kids, we need it for life, we’d be lost without it. Then we kid ourselves we’re not that bad and don’t actually need a detox, we’ll probably just not answer the phone for half hour or something, reclaim some “me time”.
Why are we so reluctant to claim our lives back, FOMO, fear that for some reason the world will have moved on without us if we take a step back, that everything will fall apart, will we be less knowledgeable, less up to date and worldly-wise, less on-trend, less relevant? We lecture our children to have less screen time, and then immediately pick up a phone, a tablet, to swipe, put laptop in our bag and set the standard to which they will aspire.
Taking a social media holiday isn’t just about being insular, yes it is taking back some you time, but it’s more than that, it’s also about re-connecting, re-engaging face to face, real conversations, debates, contact.
Enjoy use being, yourself, in company, in the moment, unaffected by who did what where.Ideally try it for at least a day, personally a week is my minimum when I’ve really had enough, sometimes longer. It’s about your health and well being, do what you have to do.
Maybe tie it in to a spa, a new hair do, a change so you come back refreshed and re-invented, almost having a reason and a target o stay offline for.
I personally find it comical when I say enough and unplug the phone, switch off the mobile for a day or 24 hours and people tell me they haven’t been able to get hold of me. I reply ” I know I switched the phone off” the look, the pause, the change of tone, apprehensive, as if I’m about to go into some form of melt down or psychotic episode. For me, it’s not about switching off because I’m unhappy, or depressed or nuts, its about being happy, staying happy and protecting my sanity actually. From soaking up every trivial problem, every oh so important thing that really wasn’t that important after all, because for that period of time when it’s off everyone managed.
I’ve been there, let me tell you what a digital detox gives you, not less but more. You’ll be less stressed, less depressed, feel less fat, feel less insignificant, less distracted and so much more! More relaxed, more tidy, more organised, more at ease and more yourself…your real self not the one your social media profile aspires to be.
Try it. Tell yourself you’re going to take 24 hours not reading emails, not sending texts updating social media accounts all of it. Then listen to your inner voice screaming at you about how you cant because….. Then you know you really do need to just break the habit and take time out. It’s amazing how angry everyone else gets with you when you don’t respond to the email they sent you ten minutes ago about some insignificant details…what’s on the menu. When you read a text message, receive the information but don’t feel obliged to text back..about nothing of interest but just because that’s what you have to do right? Even the school got to point they’d send parent text messaged throughout the day and expect us to react to them daily or by the following morning, so I blocked them.
Access to all this tech makes everyone think you have to re-act, you have to respond and in all honesty you don’t. I point out often to people…“I don’t work for you.” Simply sending me an email, a text message or copying me in on some ever increasing chain of communication between everyone I know (sometimes including the ones in my household) does not make me feel motivated to jump and respond, perform the task, answer the question, check the dates. If I see an email and it’s copied to me and my husband, I leave it for him to read and respond, if it’s important he’ll give me a nudge to get involved. I have learned that I don’t need to comment on everything or be part of everything. I choose. After all, all this technology is supposedly there to simplify life, to make it easier and to give us all choices. I LOVE choices, where to shop, where to go, what to do, when, I simply exercise the power technology gives me rather than surrender myself and my power to function to technology.
As Ewan McGregor once infamously said “Choose Life” (if you know you know). I choose to shop online, learn online even educate my child though many online packages and assessment tools, I choose to participate in positive mantras via social media and sourcing information as I require, but I also choose to switch off as and when it suit me. We have a strict no phones or gadgets at the dinner table, not for breakfast, lunch, dinner, to even if your sat with a sandwich, because that’s a social thing about interacting with one another. I will not all ow my son to bring a gadget on every journey or excursion to prop him up like a baby with a pacifier, instead we think how long is the journey, do you need just a notebook and pen to occupy yourself, a book to read or indeed a gadget, and we vary it.
I deliberately point out to our son the “zombies” at the train station when we wait for a train or ride home, the grown men looking every so busy on their phones doing important things, usually playing a game – he generally leans in and checks. I encourage him to notice from a young age how socially awkward people feel if they have no screen to hide behind and accidentally make eye contact.
We then play a game of guessing how powerful we rate someone as who doesn’t seem to feel the need, because they can simply be, comfortable in their skin, look around a room, make eye contact, smile, look ahead, whatever. Sometimes, we assume all kinds of super aspirational roles to these social warriors, other times we conclude no they really ae mad because sometimes too much eye contact is the first giveaway.
Watching people pick up their phone and look at the screen because the person next to them or opposite them has done so is always good for laugh, counting the seconds the “sheeple” as we refer to followers do their thing. I say to my son, you can be a follower or a leader in life. You choose and it starts now. It’s literally like playing Simon Says, and it’s a very telling sign of where we’re at as a society that so many people cannot function without the safety of a device to act as a barrier between other people, but then being enslaved by this device to constantly be at the beck and call of people or comparing yourself to other people, the need for likes, the constant need for affirmation, what the hell!
Take some time out to effectively have a life. Go out, stay in, have fun. If you’re going on dad nights with your partner leave the phones at home or in the glove compartment of the car if you must and re-connect, enjoy a whole evening of each others company without a barrier. When you get home please keep the devices out of the bedroom, no phone by your pillow, no laptops in bed to just check last minute emails. I promise you you will not get the sack, the world still goes on. Are you running a multi billion pound empire, do you really need to be glued to devices for work as you kid yourself, because I’m pretty certain the people running those don’t, in fact they’re the biggest purveyors of self love, self worth and self care, which includes detoxing and switching off.
Please, I urge you, go out, but a book or buy a glossy magazine, a good book, a bar of chocolate, your favourite wine or drink of choice, make a choice to give yourself a night off and see if the world ends when you go back to it.
Swiping on a phone could never replace that inner joy of turning the pages of a new glossy magazine for me, the touch, the smell, it’s about being tactile. Hovering over someone’s instagram photos of their avocado on toast is lovely, but no where near as great as grabbing a mate, heading to your favourite restaurant, eating delicious food (no gadgets at the table) and having a gossip , it’s sensory, and it’s a real experience. Watch a box set, laugh, cry, be amazed. Smell, touch, taste but most of all live life. Go for a walk, have a picnic, read a book, do some sport, anything that means engaging with real life activities. If you have kids, please, play a board game with them, play charades, do something wacky, make a den, paint, craft, help them to know that there are things we can do that do not rely on a piece of technical equipment.
Then, go, pick up your device that night, the next day, or better the next week or month and see what you missed, safe in the knowledge you are not a clone, a drone or a sheeple, you’re just you, doing you, and engaging with the world on your own terms. That’s empowering, that’s freedom, Hell you can even write a post about it, with a clever hashtag because you can. That’s what technology is supposed to enable you to do, what you can, when you want..not all the time because you feel obliged. No one want’s to be addicted to a piece of plastic, controlled and loosing literally time and energy possibly years of their life, sacrificing their sanity to a little lump of electronics you hold in your hand or tap on a keyboard. You’re worth more than that, no matter what the tech giants deliberately targeting you with addictive apps and games are trying to make you believe, your addiction is cash in their balance sheet, it’s really not that deep.
See, you didn’t need to go on one of those celebrity retreats at an overpriced hotel who take your phone away and refuse to give you wifi. You’re a big girl, you could always just flip the switch, kill the wifi yourself and save a few grand. Job done. Return to the world, refreshed, glowing and ready, having had if even just a little bit of space and time because you’re free to be as you choose and for that period of time you really did choose to just be you. You’re still here, you’re still relevant. Now go back in and slay, must be time for a selfie.