Every woman’s magazine and blog under the sun has spoken about the benefits of digital detoxing at some point in their existence. Preaching the benefits and listing off an alarming number of negative effects. We need more zen, less headaches. More connections, less rushed text messages. We get it, being online all the time is bad.
I’ve always been an advocate of having digital free time, a mindset I have my parents to thank for. As children (pre mobile phones and broadband internet) we had ‘technology free’ Sundays every few weeks, where the only tech we could enjoy during daylight hours were our discmans or mp3 players. No TV. No computer. No PS2.
We – obviously – hated it at the time, and would whinge and complain for the first hour until we remembered that we could entertain ourselves, and actually have fun sans screens. The remaining eight hours would pass in a blur of role play games (usually Harry Potter), reading books, writing stories, attacking puzzles or riding our bikes around the suburb.
Dusk would roll around and my parents would have matching smug looks on their faces, knowing that we’d had fun – and were better children because of our 9 or so hours being tech free.
And whilst as a teenager, I very much got swept into the smartphone lifestyle – always having my iPhone in hand/pocket/bag whenever I left the house – I was conscious of just how dependent I was of it.
Lost in a city? Google maps. Planning a restaurant for dinner? Instant access to hundreds of websites and reviews. Forgot my wallet? Badger every person in the house until it gets dropped off to me.
Admittedly, these are the more practical examples of how we harness the power of mobile phones – and are really just the tip of the iceberg, at that.
All advantages aside, having our phones within arms reach 24/7 isn’t cute. Or relaxing. Or healthy, when you think about it.
So every now and then, I like to leave my phone on my bedside table and have a good old-fashioned phone free day. Texts go answered. Instagram Stories expire without me ever knowing they existed. Emails pile up. And I don’t care about any of it.
Life goes on. Clients don’t notice. No one misses me. It’s magnificent, really.
Making a conscious decision to put my phone away is both freeing and difficult at the same time.
I love how I am when I’m not absent-mindedly scrolling, but I also fear that I’ll miss something important if I’m not. What if someone has exciting news? Or bad news? It’s a complete and utter gamble, knowing that a thousand things could happen and I wouldn’t hear about any of them until hours later. But it’s one that I’m willing to take to nurture my health and creativity.
Ditching my phone means actually paying attention when I watch a new episode of my favourite show. It means spending 3 hours reading a book, only resurfacing for a cup of tea. It means writing essays and stories and allowing the words pour out uninterrupted. It means having long, flowing conversations with my partner because I’m not distracted by who’s doing what on their weekend.
Of course, as the evening rolls around, I inevitably pick up my cracked device, logging back into the world. And despite only being gone for a handful of hours, unnoticeable to most, things feel different. Social media doesn’t hold the same weight or urgency that it had the day before. Emails and texts are still there, but they don’t require an instant response.
Nothing drastic has happened. No one is ill. I haven’t lost a client. All is well – and so am I.