What began as a whole new world of communication less than a decade ago has evolved into what feels like a necessity, sometimes an addiction! It feels like we are missing out if we don’t share our lives or watch someone else sharing theirs on social media. Sometimes all the sharing can get a bit much and you need a break. It’s information overload. There’s only so much information our brains can handle and frequently I yearn to return to the days pre Internet, pre social media, when there were fewer distractions and you just got on with getting on!
It was time for a 24 hour digital detox. The phone was turned off, and for 24 hours I was social media free.
Here’s what happened!
What a productive day! At midnight I turned my phone off and put it in a drawer. There was no 1 hour on Facebook before bed, no reaching for the phone as soon as I woke up the next morning or spending the day feeding the addiction by constantly checking emails, tweeting or facebooking. Throughout the day, I went about my routine focussed and not distracted.
Focussing on me and the new enhanced productivity was refreshing. I could start a job and finish it, without having my phone nearby vibrating with notifications, without seeing the screen light up, without the temptation to check and see if there was an email to respond to immediately.
A sense of emergency has happened in the last decade, maybe even of panic or paranoia?.
Why has so and so not replied to my email yet? What’s wrong, are they ok, have I done something wrong? Hello are you there? I need an answer NOW. Are you ignoring me. THIS IS URGENT.
It’s not urgent, it rarely is!! Keep calm and relax. You don’t need to answer that call while you’re driving or text a response right now. Later will be soon enough. Stop the urgency and relax.
A digital detox stops that urgency in its tracks, you can’t respond, you’re simply out of reach, and if you can resist the temptation to check your phone, you’ll quickly learn, that actually, there is no urgency. Nothing needs done right now. So just chill out and enjoy doing what you’re doing without distraction.
At one with my world
For a change when out for a walk, I had no music, it was just me at one with my world. Walking on the beach, I only had the calming sound of the waves, or the birds, or the wind, it was the way a walk was meant to be. Hearing my footsteps in the sand, hearing and feeling the water I was splashing in as I pottered along the shore. It was just me, breathing in the calmness, with no phone, no photos being taken, no chatter, nothing.
You won’t actually miss it…
You know what? I didn’t miss anything!!! I didn’t miss my phone, apart from my hand or pocket feeling empty. I didn’t miss the social interaction. I didn’t miss taking a photo. I didn’t miss the distraction.
What happened in the world …
Surprise of all surprises, there was no drama. There were no emergencies, I didn’t miss a catastrophic event or announcement. I saw the evening news as I would’ve done. One daily catchup on TV and that was it. Simples. No information overload.
You’ll learn that you can actually do it…
No one believed I could switch off for the day. How could Belfast Times just not do social media for 24 hours…impossible. Well, it’s possible, and it’s something I recommend you try. Make sure your data is turned off, or your smart phone is out of sight and enjoy the freedom, enjoy not feeling like you should be oversharing with the world.
The next day was definitely fascinating. Messages and questions asking what it was like, disbelief that I’d gone 24 hours without my phone. People saying they’d love to try it, even someone saying they are switching off for a month because it’s definitely a distraction.
Should you do it?
Absolutely yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Free yourself, turn the smartphone off. Reconnect with your own world as and when it’s happening, focus on yourself, spend quality time with yourself and your family and friends without feeling the urge to share that moment with the world, who actually probably just want some time out as well.
Ironically, you’ll probably read this on your smartphone, through a social media channel. So don’t get me wrong, the birth of social media has been a game changer, not only has it brought a new era of oversharing, but it has brought us greater access to a wealth of knowledge to help improve our lives, that’s if you can avoid the click bait. It’s just that sometimes we need a break from it.
And yes, I’ll be taking my own advice and enjoying more regular digital detox days, and today’s starts the second I post this on to Belfast Times. Summer has decided to come back for a few days, and I’ve decide to embrace it.
Take a break and set your phone down