Reflections on Digital Detox

“Online” is my life. It’s not strange for me to spend easily 8 hours of my day on my computer, then go to work and teach other people (on computers). There are some days I spend 12 hours online–in social media, or on my computer–writing, updating, emailing.

It’s all good. I love my work, so no complaints. But this spring has been especially intense and very, very busy.

So to say that it was a relief to get off of my computer for a week or two is a big understatement. The last 10 days, I have been at at remote cabin on a lake on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no electricity. There’s no wifi. And my phone, at the very most, had 2 bars of service at any given time.

One of the great things about my job is that I can work anywhere there is a wifi connection, as long as I have my computer. I love that. But sometimes I just don’t want to work, y’know?

Who needs to stare at a phone when you have this awesomeness in front of you?
Who needs to stare at a phone when you have this awesomeness in front of you?

So, yes, I took my computer with me to the Sunshine Coast. I could hotspot wifi when needed, and one day I went into town and worked at a Starbucks for a couple of hours and got a bunch of stuff done. But during the time I was there, I only turned my computer on about 5 times–and a couple of those were to download e-books so I’d have something to read.

I kept my phone on “airplane mode” most of the time, as constant push updates drain the battery, and I wanted to have to tap into the solar- and gas-generated electricity as little as possible. I’d check in to FB, Twitter and Instagram a couple times a day, and text my son, who was staying at his Gramma’s on the Island.

My days were basically filled with three things: reading, eating (and associated chores), and swimming. That was it. There was no schedule. No rules. Just get up when you feel like it, drink coffee, nap, eat, swim, read, go to bed when you feel like it.

It wasn’t a 100% digital detox, but it was as close as I get.

It was a very interesting experience. I have alarm bells in my head that go off every 15 or 30 minutes if I haven’t checked my email or my Twitter or my Facebook. Like many of you, I have my face in my phone all the time. If I’m waiting in line, I’m checking Instagram.

So, it was weird, at first, to fight that urge to look at my phone all the time. But then I started to get used to it, and then something strange happened. Facebook started to feel trivial. Yeah, there was stuff about Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison, and Donald Trump. But it all started to feel immaterial.

A second odd thing that happened was that I stopped talking about my life on social media. I must shamefully confess that yes, I post stuff on there to make my friends jealous. I’m a food blogger, I love to travel, and I love to share my experiences with my friends online. They post stuff, I feel envy, and vice versa. And, even though I was in a beautiful place, cooking beautiful meals and having great experiences, I didn’t feel compelled to share them on Facebook. I wanted to keep them for myself. Or maybe, I wanted to really experience them, rather than experiencing them through the lens of my camera. I did a lot of just sitting and looking, rather than sitting, looking, taking photos and sharing them on Facebook.

It was great. So relaxing. And chill. Really, exactly what I needed.

I’m back now, and it feels weird. As weird as it was to be off of social media, now that I’m back where I could be all the time, I’m not really that interested. Last night, I went to pick up sushi (the one thing I really really missed while at a place where there were no restaurants), and, instead of checking out Instagram or Twitter while I waited, I sat outside and people-watched. It was kind of nice.

I don’t consider myself to be a slave to my iPhone. I always have tried to use it mindfully. But it’s easy to get reeled in.

If you feel like you’re a slave to your phone, here are some tips for a modified digital detox:

  • Set a timer. Get on to FB and Twitter for 15 minutes, then get off when the timer dings.
  • Turn off all push notifications, or at least turn off any beeps. On my phone, I have badges only for notifications. I like to be able to determine when I want to check, not when my phone commands me. I only have sound notifications for phone calls and text messages (which could be related to work or my son).
  • Turn your phone on silent at night, or put it on airplane mode. Read before bed–not on your phone!

Here are some tips for a digital detox by friend Vicki, who does one yearly. She does the real deal, not a modified one like mine!

Have you done a digital detox? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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