Posts tagged digital detox
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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Kristen Unplugged, Volume 1

Last week, I started a social media detox.  I'd been feeling a bit dull, distracted, less than productive, and I realised I'd go hours scrolling through the latest on my feeds whenever a notification pinged in.

Each morning, I wanted to walk on the beach, and instead would sit with a coffee, and say to myself, I'll go in a minute, Let me just check Facebook.  An hour would go by, and I'd rationalise that it was too late for a walk and head to a café to do some work, telling myself I'd get up an hour earlier the next day.

Of course, I didn't get up an hour earlier.  Ever.

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  You want to clean out the fridge [well, in fairness that's not very fun, but it's important!] and instead you find yourself watching cat videos sent by your Aunt Gertrude?

That same week I had a conversation with a friend about distractions and reduced attention spans.  I sometimes find it difficult to sit through an hour long television show, or read a full length article in a newspaper, easily getting distracted by a notification, or something else on the screen, or something I forgot to Google earlier in the day.  I've always been an avid book reader, and I'd never ever put down a book without finishing it, no matter how much I disliked it.  Now I've got 3 books I've started within the past few months and not finished.

According to a study conducted by Microsoft, multi-tasking and social media have reduced our attention span so dramatically, that it is apparently worse than a goldfish.  When the 'mobile age' began around 2000, our attention span was a whopping 12 seconds.  By 2013 [5years ago!] it had dropped to 8 seconds.  The attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.  Let that sink in.  

I decided to step away from social media for a few days and see what happened.  My friend and I agreed Tuesday - Thursday, a massive 3 days! I notified friends and family, with cute pictures I found on the internet that I would be on a Digital Detox. I posted on FB and Insta, as how else would I communicate such ground breaking news?

And then I deleted the apps.  

And sat anticipating my boredom and anxiety at being distanced from EVERYONE and EVERYTHING!!! 

And, ya know what happened?  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday flew by.  

I got shit done, I went to the beach, I talked to people.   

I didn't even realise that my detox was about to end.  And then on Friday morning, I decided  to carry on.  

It's been a week, and I'm not at all anxious about what I've 'missed.'  

And my brother actually reached out to me, sending me a message to check in on what's going on.  He asked me questions, instead of the other way around.  Since I'd not put any updates of any sort on social media, we were forced to have a one to one conversation if he wanted to know his favourite sister is doing well.  I can't remember the last time he reached out to me.  

Going forward, I've decided to take control of my social media use, instead of letting it control me.  I'm reinstalling the apps, and setting specific days and times to look at what I find important, rather than relying on my feed to tell me what it thinks I want to know.  I'll send actual birthday messages to my friends and family, not post a generic Happy Birthday message on their walls.  

I'll finish my books, be more connected to the here and now, and get even more shit done.

Imagine what you can do when you disconnect and unplug!  When will you digital detox?