Kristen Unplugged, Volume 2
So, my digital detox officially finished about 2 weeks ago, and unofficially finished last week, when I reinstalled the apps on my phone. Since then, I've been thinking of how the detox has affected me, and what 'detoxing' means to me.
Although I have installed the apps again, I am now in control of the time I spend looking at Facebook or Instagram. To put things into perspective, I used to easily spend an hour or two each morning, mindlessly scrolling through. Checking Facebook was my go-to activity - at the table when my friends got up, smoking a cigarette with my morning coffee, on the beach as soon as I heard a notification ping in. I felt connected to my family and friends back home, as if I wasn't really missing anything.
I now spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day, and only checking the specific things I am looking for. I'd like to think that people have missed my FB presence, but I know this isn't the case. And deep down, I realise I actually prefer it that way - people are living their own lives.
When it's quiet or I'm alone, I walk to the beach and actually watch the sunset, paying attention to the changes and the colours of the sky. When a friend leaves the table, I watch the farmers in the rice paddies, manipulating their complex system of strings tied to tin sheets and glass bottles used to scare the birds away. And, I no longer feel the need to reach for a cigarette with my morning coffee. Instead, I plan my route to the beach and where I'll walk.
I've also become much more aware of how people use FB and Instagram, and how ubiquitous they have become in our daily lives. I hear people mention they are going to the most Instagrammable spots in Bali, or watch them queue up to replicate Instagram pics that have attracted the most likes. I can't help but think there is something being missed here.
When I was in Cambodia, during my dream trip to Angkor Wat, my tour guide kept positioning me for the 'best photos' and I would queue with all the other tourists to make sure I had the identical photo on my phone. After shuffling along with hundreds of others in the sweltering heat, I asked my guide to take me to a less crowded temple. He was confused. Didn't I want to see the next most popular one? No, I said, I want to appreciate the beauty and discover an uncrowded gem, the essence of what made the discovery of Angkor Wat so unique.
Eventually we made our way to a temple with about 4 tourists, and I was one of them. I spent the rest of my day in quiet contemplation, took my time to see the detail and appreciate the carvings, walk the same paths that countless others had thousands of years ago. I experienced Angkor Wat; I didn't photograph it. I didn't filter and edit my photos, hoping for more likes than ever before. And I felt more connected to that nearly forgotten temple with a name I can't remember, than the ones made popular in tour books and movies starring Angelina Jolie.
And, it's that joy and wonder that I am finding time for in my day to day life, now that I am no longer reliant on social media.
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