I’m doing a digital detox* over my vacation this month and I’m feeling two emotions: anxiety and relief.
Anxiety because grabbing my phone out of my bag/from next to me on my desk/from next to me on the coffee table/from next to me on my night stand has become so reflexive it’s as ingrained as pushing my hair behind my ear.
What will I do when I go for it and it’s not there for 7 days on vacation?
The relief is because I know how bad this phone addiction is for me. When you’re a smoker and you’re at an event, if you feel a lull or are at a loss as to who to talk to next, or if you’re in an uncomfortable conversation, you can go outside and smoke.
The iPhone is the same for me.
If I’m at a loss, or bored or have a feeling coming on that I don’t want to feel, I reach for my phone and then…what? I don’t’ have Facebook on my phone so I usually go straight for Twitter or Instagram and start scrolling and I’m looking for entertainment. But it’s never good. I may get a chuckle from Twitter or Instagram, but it’s mostly unsatisfying or fleeting.
Do I really need to read tweets about a book called “You Raised Us, Now You Have to Work with Us”? (Yes, of course that book is about millennials. Can you imagine our grandparent’s generation writing a book like that?)
Do I need to ohh and ahh over another picture of a sunset? It’s nice but…
I feel relieved because I won’t be able to continue this cycle. Not only is it a bad habit, being online 24/7 is terrible for you and I am feeling the effects.
I used to be able to bang out a 700-word article in an hour or two (first draft only). Now I can’t write. I get distracted easily and I can’t focus. I’ve been working on an article for my personal organizing site for over a month with very little progress. Ironically it’s about tools you need to stay focused and organized.
My eyes sometimes hurt from looking at a screen and I’m sure it’s disturbing my sleep.
Science has found that smart phone addiction leads to depression, anxiety, and poor sleep. And here’s more damage being down, specifically from social media:
Results from the few studies that have been done are troubling. Social media appears to promote narcissism, smartphones could be causing insomnia, and screens seem to be making our kids less empathetic. – Fast Company
Now I’m not a kid, but I certainly want to be empathetic to people. I want to be a fully formed human being and not some narcissistic jerk.
I also wonder how much my distracted, social media obsessed brain keeps me from doing the things I really want to do. I’d love to sit on the couch and read The New Yorker (I have two month’s worth stacked up, unread in my living room). How many times has a two minute social media fix kept me from just sitting down and reading? All those two minute fixes add up to a lot of time.
Is checking social media, which I find unsatisfying, crowding out things I really love to do? Probably.
The Digital Detox Unplugging Plan
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about what happens to your brain when you do a digital detox for inspiration and I’ve already started unplugging. I keep my iPhone in my handbag at work instead of on my desk. I have a do not disturb on my phone that goes from 10pm to 8am every day.
I do not have Facebook on my phone. I think this is a biggie.
But next week will be tough. I briefly considered bringing my phone and keeping it on airplane mode, but I know myself and I know I’ll be too tempted to cheat and the pressure will build up and I’ll beat myself up and cheat or just I’ll just beat myself up.
What I’m bringing with me:
- My IPod onto which I’ve downloaded a bunch of podcasts.
- A notebook and pencil for writing.
- My “good” camera and my other more mobile-friendly camera.
- My Kindle. When I bought my kindle two years ago, I purposely bought that does not connect to the internet.
Now the big question is, how do I let people who regularly text, email and Facebook message me know that I will be on a digital detox?
I’ve put this vacation message on my Gmail account:
I am currently on vacation and left my smartphone at home. This means I can’t receive calls, texts, or emails for the duration of my trip. If this is a true emergency, please contact Michael Smutnick or Linda Larkin.
If I can survive without technology until then, I’ll be back online on xxxx.
As for text messages, most of my good friends know I’ll be away. I’m a little worried about the long-losts, meaning the people I don’t speak to regularly but who I’d want to respond to quickly if they texted me. I suppose they will just have to wait.
*My digital detox will be:
- No computer
- No iPhone
- No logging on to anyone else’s computer or phone.
- Pray for me.