I’ve been curious about a digital detox for some time now, and eventually, a couple of weekends ago, I got around to some semblance of it. Now, being completely honest, I had study to do for the masters I’m struggling my way through (I am a self-confessed supernerd) which was online – but I resolutely refrained from checking my email (which I check at least 27 times a day), Facebook, Instagram or even general browsing on The Daily Mail etc (not easy when you’re sitting in front of a laptop). I suppose it was probably more of social media/phone detox, and was further complicated by organising to meet my study buddy (Rach, take a bow, you didn’t kill me – despite how awkward I made it for you) and having my mum come to stay. But with some forward planning it was possible to switch off my phone for the best part of two days – although it felt really old school organising my weekend on Friday evening and then turning my phone off!
I lasted from 8pm on Friday evening until around 4pm Sunday – so almost 48 hours in total. Not having a phone made me realise how many times I actually check my phone each day – and I realised that people checking their phone 157 times a day is distressingly realistic. And that was just the initial “checking” – because we all know how easy it is to get lost on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest…and suddenly realise 35 minutes have passed, not 5.
Definitely the biggest bonus was how much more productive I became, not just from regaining the hours lost wandering through news feeds, but also because I was able to properly focus on each thing I was doing, rather than becoming distracted half way through. Our attention spans are becoming shorter – according to the Associated Press, the average attention span for 2013 was a paltry 8 seconds, just shy of the 9 seconds that an average goldfish can boast (anyone else freaked out by that?). This is also apparently leading to shorter memories – I know I need to write every appointment or task in my diary, or it simply does not happen, and previously I attributed this to the ageing process, or just being tired, but perhaps the multi-tasking, multi-screen habits related to social media and constant connectivity are partly to blame.
I also realised how little time I spend alone – despite quite happily being an introvert (80% by the Myers-Briggs scale) and enjoying my own space, when the constant connection to the world and social media that is my phone was removed, I then understood exactly what “time alone” really means. Things I wanted to think about, and those I’d have preferred not to…there was no Huffington post article on Trump’s latest blunder to distract me, but there was also no perfect Instagram feed to make me feel like I didn’t match up. So good and bad feelings associated with it – but no hiding from my thoughts. I think in this day and age, it’s pretty hard to see the world clearly – there are so many filters and contrived perspectives no matter what direction you look in, and some space from this can only be a good thing.
Are you as addicted to your phone as the rest of us? I didn’t even realise I was quite so attached to mine until I went without it for a few days – and I’m still kind of shocked how hard it was. Have you ever tried a digital detox?