A Tech Lover’s 3-Step Guide To Daily Digital Detox
There is something oddly comforting about technology. With it, I feel organized and involved in the world and its changing moods. Without it, I have to admit that I can feel a little lost… until I feel better. And I know I am not the only one.
I may love the Internet and all that allows me to use it, but I haven’t had the best of luck with technology for the past few months. My old phone died and so did other, borrowed ones; new phones I bought online wouldn’t turn on; my brand new mp3 player (yeah, I still use one of those) wouldn’t let me turn the volume down; and to cap it all, my trusty laptop stopped working altogether. Since then I have considered myself a bit of an expert on how to live a happy-ish, technology-modest life. And before you run away screaming: you don’t need to get all your devices to break like mine did in order to be a little bit more present in everyday life.
- Wait until you’re out of bed.
Here is what I would do before my forced digital detox: I would wake up to the sweet sounds of my phone’s alarm, deactivate plane mode (which I like to use when I sleep) and start scrolling down Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and whatever else for way too long. We all know we shouldn’t… but we do it anyway. Though honestly, it doesn’t strike me as being particularly healthy to feed my brain so many images and bits of babble before it has even had the chance to turn on properly. All it does is keep my mind clouded longer – perhaps even until the end of that day when I finally turn the plane mode back on.
Checking my phone in the morning keeps my mind clouded longer.
If you honestly enjoy scrolling through your social media in the early morning (and I strongly recommend you check that you do), at least set up an alarm to keep yourself from falling too far down the virtual rabbit hole. By keeping myself from being instantly connected and harassed by information, I wake up better, breathe more deeply and maybe I’ll even squeeze in a bit of yoga to get the juices flowing.
- When you are hanging out with your friends, be with your friends.
You know how they say that smartphones damage social relationships? Yeah, that is true. Especially as someone who did not own a smartphone for a while, I had the chance to notice how much time other people spend on theirs, even in the company of friends. Let me tell you: that sucks. Sure, you can sneak in the occasional text -if you make it quick- but don’t spend an entire evening updating Snapchat, or even worse: scrolling down your timeline. That only lets everyone else know that you find your superficial social media more interesting than your real-life friendships.
Scrolling down your timeline lets your friends know that you find Facebook more interesting than them.
Although Snapchat advertizes ‘living in the moment‘, it can get in the way of it. As soon as my friends and I would get to a bar, they would all turn off for five minutes, swallowed by their phones, silent and disinterested in conversation. The worst part is that whenever I would point this out to them, they would dismiss it by saying it only took a minute.
So my advice is: check your habits and impulses. Why do you need to check Instagram as soon as you sit down somewhere? Just make sure you don’t become a slave to your phone. I’m just saying.
- Look around more.
I feel like the reason why I click my phone on 90% of the time is because I am feeling idle. I may be walking somewhere, or my class is about to start, or I’m having lunch on my own… All those in-between moments are excuses for to check in with my virtual life instead of accepting the fact that I am not doing anything right now – or I am on my own. Or maybe, I should be studying and I will just refresh the site on more time before I get started, and also I’ll just tell my friends that I’m busy so that they know not to distract me, etc etc.
Refraining from checking your phone all the time allows your brain to chill out.
Even when all I had was an old GSM phone whose coolest (and only) feature was a Sudoku game, I could barely keep myself from playing that on repeat instead of -to put it in the most hipster way possible- living in the moment. It’s a weirdly tense activity though, being busy all the time. Even passively looking at a screen isn’t as relaxing as it seems. Instead, I started bringing a notebook with me, like I used to years ago. I started looking around more, seeing what other people were up to (checking their phones a lot), what the weather was like (dreadful, usually)… I got more inclined to talk to people, read or listen to audiobooks and maybe jot down a few ideas here and there.
And that felt awesome. I immediately started feeling more inspired and more productive. I switched from passive entertainment to active observation; and that cleared so much headspace for me.
There is something oddly comforting about technology… It serves you the whole world on a silver platter. But it’s important to understand that sometimes, what you really need is just a bit of reality.
What are your tips for using your technology wisely?