Mid-March, my phone decided it couldn’t take this cruel world any longer and peaced out on me. It was a peaceful passing; the battery drained to zero and simply never regained consciousness. And so began my accidental exile from everyday digital connection.
I’m the first to admit that I’m positively besotted with my phone. It lives nestled in the palm of my hand at all times except from when I’m sleeping or typing on another device. But you know what? That’s just a takeaway of being a millennial and being a Human That Functions In 2017. In the past I’ve attempted digital detoxes with varying degrees of success. There was my 2-year stint in Hong Kong where often I felt so lonely that I couldn’t help but be on it all the time – I countered that by popping it on Do Not Disturb mode between certain hours and sleeping with it in another room to stop me from spending 3 hours scrolling into the abyss every night. There was the stint when my friend Kristen and I downloaded the Forest app and tried to grow beautiful digital trees with every hour of not touching our phone. You get the jist.
Whilst of course I still use the Internet pretty much daily for work, this digital detox has been unlike any other. I’ve had to manoeuvre around my freelancer, working-from-home schedule without a phone to confirm or double-check meetings. I’ve felt anxious about popping to town or into London without the safety of my phone. I can’t pick up the phone and call my boyfriend/Mum/sister when I’m having my daily meltdown.
As I write this post (26th March 2017), I’ve been without my phone for 13 days. So what have I learned?
A quieter life
Not having notifications flocking through on my phone every other minute means that I have a much quieter day. Previously, I had all of my social media accounts and not one, not two, but THREE email accounts linked to my phone which meant I’d spot all of my notifications at a moment’s glance. Sans phone, I’ve realised that it isn’t the end of the world if I don’t see a Twitter mention the second I receive it or if I have to access my emails through my mail client to check for new emails. In fact, I’ve had so much more time to actually get my work done instead of constantly plough through emails and notifications and all of that extra digital clutter.
Without the distraction of free-flowing, pretty awesome chatter and, let’s face it, gossip from my friends, I’ve found that my everyday lifestyle is a little slower and a little quieter and I sort of love it. Being able to slow down and take time and make effort to connect with others has been a complete revelation. I haven’t been late once for a coffee or lunch date or a meeting because how on Earth could I notify them if I was? I feel less pressure to have everything completed immediately, instead working towards deadlines at a manageable pace.
A louder mind
The most exciting part of having an impromptu digital detox is that I’ve felt more inspired than ever to create. Whilst I’m bound by particular briefs and projects in my work life, being a step or two away from social media means that my mind has been ‘allowed’ to wander further afield from the usual sources of Instagram inspiration and seeing the daily grind filter through from Twitter. Of course I love being up to date with everybody on social media channels but a step back has truly done me the world of good and allowed me to develop ideas for the blog and for work and for my personal life without the loudness of comparison and judgement online.
It’s been said before but I’ll say it again: not having platforms on which to voice what you’re doing in your everyday mundane has been great. Often I pop up InstaStory clips or Tweets and then immediately worry that I’ll be perceived as boring, not enough, boasting, etc. There’s no use in worrying what others think of you though and nothing has hammered that home better than an 11-day and counting stint of me still being alive and kicking with no new Instagram likes. I briefly worried that being away from Instagram would in turn make me worry about my platforms’ growth but I’ve never more relaxed about All Things Daisybutter. The world isn’t going to end because I haven’t kept up with my 2 daily Instagram posts or because I haven’t Tweeted what I plan to cook for dinner or if I’ve shared my outfit of the day. It totally puts into perspective how inconsequential all of these things can be and how much other things really matter. Who would’ve thought?!
When was the last time you did or attempted a digital detox?