While I might be what they call a digital native, I’ve never considered myself a tech addict. But when I found myself reaching for my phone mindlessly, scrolling endlessly through various social media feeds (sometimes late into the night), I realized I had a problem. Research showed that the blue light from the various screens I was exposed to daily was detrimentally affecting my sleep pattern, my vision and my mood. Clearly, it was time for a digital break. Here are the rules I set for myself:
- No social media
- No professional emails and messages after work hours
- No convenience apps
- No Google (unless it was for work)
DIGITAL BREAK WEEK!
Saturday: I Got 99 Problems, But Low Battery Ain’t One
The very first thought that struck me that day was, ‘How to avoid mobile?’. It took all my self-control not to check my phone first thing in the morning but after I got that impulse under control, I headed out for my errands leaving my phone behind (no phone, no temptation). My friends knew about my digital detox challenge which meant if they wanted to get in touch with me, they had to go old-school and call me on my landline (remember those?). It felt great to come home to messages and it felt even better knowing that I hadn’t really missed my phone as much as I had anticipated. Yes, my hand did feel for it in my pocket a couple of times but all in all, I had a pretty successful day.
Sunday: What Do I Do With My Life?
Since I was off all technology, that meant no Netflix or TV. I couldn’t switch on my laptop, my Kindle or my phone. And I had zero plans. I was instantly hit with next-level panic. After some intense deep breathing, I decided I could do this. I read, painted, gave myself some much-needed TLC, read some more, wrote letters to my friends abroad (why don’t we do that anymore?) and chatted with people whose numbers I remembered from before the time of cell phones. I even spent a couple of hours making myself the most exotic, surprisingly delicious meal. Who knew I could cook? Who knew I could do so many things in one day? Day two, done!
Monday: Technology, Ahoy!
If you want to know what real rejection feels like, try taking a taxi in Mumbai city. Since I couldn’t book a cab to work, I had to resort to taking a kaali peeli. After what felt like an eternity and a personal vendetta against me, I finally got one with the friendliest driver whose chatting made up for the lack of music. And he agreed to be my transport for the rest of the week. Score!
While it felt great to be connected to the outside world at work, it was admittedly incredibly difficult not to check social media now that my phone was on. Thankfully, I had signed out of all my apps. Full disclosure here, I did find myself reaching for my phone several times without any legit reason. Luckily, I had a pretty hectic day with meetings and deadlines, so I managed to survive another day. Barely.
Tuesday: Who Died?
Murphy’s Law 101: Just when you’re on a digital detox, something new will break the internet, your favorite celebrity will die or better yet get a face lift, and your friends will announce live-altering events on social media. So, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that everyone at work was discussing a video that had gone viral overnight, laughing over memes, and speculating over the latest update from The Bachelor. FOMO level – max! Then you wonder how to stay away from social media. The key, I learnt, is to put your head down, work yourself to the bone, and ignore all the little voices in your head that are telling you to Google the latest goss in town.
Wednesday: Hey, I’ve Got Real-Life Friends
With no digital distractions, my productivity is through the roof. Not once did I find myself reaching for my phone in the middle of a task today. I spent my lunch break getting to know to my colleagues instead of getting caught in an endless scroll on Facebook and our mid-week happy hours consisted of actual conversation without me rearranging dishes on the table repeatedly to get the perfect Insta story. Turns out, life is made of talking and not stalking, of real experiences and not fake filters.
Thursday: Social Media? What’s That?
I’m happy to report that I’ve completely stopped feeling those ghost vibrations in my back pocket and that uncontrollable urge to constantly check my phone has vanished. But since I didn’t carry my lunch today, I truly understood the worth of all the other convenience apps out there. With no Swiggy and Zomato, I had to go pick up my lunch myself. The upside? I discovered so many quaint restaurants near my office with yummy, well-priced menus. And guess what, life really is better without social media. Turns out, I don’t need those constant updates, I’m not missing out on much if I don’t see every single story and I most certainly will not die if I don’t know what’s going on in some celebrity’s life.
Friday: It’s All About Those Boundaries, People
Even though I’m doing just great without social media, life is unquestionably harder without the travel, food delivery and music apps. But what affected me most was my inability to use GPS. Not only did I have to rely completely on my cab driver (who didn’t know the way either), but I also had to stop a few times to ask for directions on my way to my meeting this morning.
While I was glad to be back online at the end of the day, I felt extremely proud at having successfully completed my digital detox. My attention span, productivity, and sleep cycles have improved, and I realized that ultimately, it’s all about drawing the line. Technology is one of man’s greatest inventions, but every so often, it’s imperative to just log out.