FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TAKING A DIGITAL DETOX

June 18, 2015
Digital Detox
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So, funny story.

This post has actually been in the pipeworks for about 6 weeks.

Way at the beginning of May, Innocent Smoothies got in touch to ask whether I’d like to take part in a 48h Digital Detox, to tie in with their Unplugged Festival at the end of May.

Now, I couldn’t make it to the festival, but I knew that a tech detox was definitely something I was overdue, so I said yes.

But then life happened.

Turning off social media and techy gadgets is NOT easy to do when you’re working 10h shifts at a computer, trying to get a job in social media and also working on your blog at weekends.

I spend a LOT of time floating between my phone, iPad, Kindle, TV and laptop. I’ve always been a bit of a technophile, love the internet and spend faaar too much time on social media.

So yeah. I knew I was due a break…

And yet it took 6 weeks, a flight to Portugal and the fact of physically not having any internet available, for me to finally get down and get detoxed.

Pitiful eh?

Here’s what I learned from the experience!

Digital Detox

1. Our lives revolve around gadgets.

I tried to start the detox several times in the weeks before Portugal. Honestly, I did.

But then I’d have a blogging events to attend, or plans to make with online friends, or photos to take, or Eurovision to watch, or… you get my drift right?

It can be really, really hard to disconnect, when everything around us has adapted to the technology age.

When I’m researching a blog post, I use Google. When I’m moving around London, I use Maps. When I’m looking for a new restaurant to try, I use Zomato. When I’m checking in for my flight, I use my phone and an app.

In a weird, metaphorical way, it’s like having a remote control for your life.

They’re little things, but it felt really strange not to be tied down to any of that while I was away. It made me realise exactly how much I rely on my phone every day for information and assistance.

And, actually, I’m gonna be entirely honest here: even on my supposed Digital Detox, I ended up using my Kindle and the camera on my iPhone. Simply because they’re smaller, lighter and faaar more convenient to pack in hand luggage than 8 paperbacks and a chunky DSLR.

So yeah. Gadgets. THEY’RE IMPOSSIBLE TO GET AWAY FROM.

2. I need a curfew.

Guys, the amount of sleep I got on this holiday isn’t even funny.

Ten hours every night, with an extra nap every afternoon for good measure.

Sure, my body was definitely exhausted and recovering from being ill, but I think it also had to do with the fact that, without my phone to distract me, my brain could just crash, without any annoying phone lights mixing up my body clock or whatever.

It made me realise I maybe need to start setting myself a phone curfew.

That way, when I actually get into bed, I won’t faff about on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for several hours after, and can actually get some sleep!

Time to Chill Out

3. I get easily bored.

This is a funny one isn’t it?

When I say I get easily bored, what I think I mean is: I get easily distracted. I’m not very good at doing one thing at a time.

I can’t just watch a film, I have to have my Kindle next to me as well, and I like using my phone to look up fun trivia about the movie while I watch it. I flick between jobs and tabs and apps and am probably not as efficient as I could be because of it.

But when I didn’t have anything technological to distract me, all I could do was just read my book or have a conversation or take a nap.

It made me focus a lot more, and I felt a lot calmer and less frazzled about stuff.

It’s something I’m now trying to implement at work. If I’m working on a post, I’m working on a post. No Twitter, no Facebook and no Buzzfeed until I’m done.

(… it’s a work in progress.)

4. I don’t have to be doing stuff ALL THE TIME.

Blogging. Writing. Photography.

A lot, not all, but a lot of my hobbies these days are focused around technology and computers.

I used to do theatre, dance, scrap-booking, drawing, sports… and now I don’t. And I’d not really noticed it until I was suddenly left facing 2 days with absolutely nothing to do.

Innocent were very kind and flew to the rescue with a care package of fun stuff to keep me going.

So I did some colouring. I wrote myself a letter. I read some of my book. I played around with my snazzy new toy and tried to learn how to take a T-Swizzle-worthy Polaroid shot (still working on that one).

And then I had an epiphany.

I don’t HAVE to always be doing something. My phone has become a sort of security blanket for me not be left alone with my thoughts.

We all do it. As soon as there’s a long awkward silence in conversation, everyone starts checking their phones. I know that, if I’m stood waiting for a bus, the first thing I do is start scrolling through Instagram.

And it’s not something I’ve ever thought about really. But there’s nothing wrong with sitting in silence.

And maybe it’s time I start leaving my phone in my bag and observing what’s going on around me.

Digital Detox

5. Find the balance.

Yes, I’m glad I did the detox. Yes, I think I needed it and my head feels a lot clearer for it.

But I’ve also learned that I’m never going to be able to give up social media for good.

I’m too much of a sharer by nature. I’ve always liked sharing my life and what I’m up to with other people. Now I just have a platform where people actually want to read and know about it.

I like taking photos and preserving memories. Even before the digital age struck, I remember using up two whole disposable cameras on one (one!) parade when we were in Disney World. Just because I loved it so much, and I was having such a blast, and I knew that photos were the only way to keep that memory alive.

I like being able to connect with people I’d never meet otherwise.

I like that my Mum and Dad can still see what I’m up to in my life.

Giving all that up just isn’t something I’m interested in doing.

So, to make a reaaaally long story short, what I think what I’m trying to say here is that the BIG lesson I’ve learnt from doing the Innocent Unplugged challenge is that BALANCE IS THE KEY.

Now I just need to figure out a way of turning that key…

*Written in collaboration with Innocent.

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