Detox from the Dig­i­tal

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Olive Cys­ter Im­age © istockphoto.com

In our mod­ern world, we have in­fi­nite ac­cess to information. We are so used to look­ing up the answer to ev­ery ques­tion that it of­ten feels out of the or­di­nary to even think about switch­ing off the de­vices in our hands.

We are in a dig­i­tally-de­pen­dant world, and it is in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for us to dis­con­nect. Our so­ci­ety has found that de­spite the re­wards of tech­nol­ogy, many of us are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ad­verse con­se­quences it can have on our lives.

The overuse of dig­i­tal de­vices such as your smart­phone and tablet can cause poor sleep­ing habits, stress, and be­ing con­stantly dis­tracted, among others.

In June this year, Ap­ple broke new ground when it re­vealed soft­ware to help wean peo­ple off their smart de­vices. The in­vest­ment by Ap­ple in a dig­i­tal detox is based on their con­cern about the neg­a­tive im­pact ex­ces­sive use of our smart de­vices and so­cial me­dia can have on our well-be­ing. “I do not be­lieve in overuse. I am not a per­son that says we have achieved suc­cess if you are us­ing it all the time. I do not sub­scribe to that at all,” said chief executive of Ap­ple, Tim Cook, when re­spond­ing to his rea­sons for not want­ing his nephew to be on so­cial net­work­ing sites.

But, is a dig­i­tal detox nec­es­sary? PREMIER

ex­plores the ben­e­fits and how to go about a dig­i­tal detox:

Ask Your­self Why

Have you ever felt alone, even though you are in a room full of peo­ple? Awk­ward and shy, you search for your phone. Like a child who can­not sleep with­out their favourite blan­ket, your phone is of­ten the ob­vi­ous source of com­fort. “I truly be­lieve that keep­ing our phones in our pock­ets is one of the bravest things that any of us can do,” writes author Blake Snow in his book Log Off: How to Stay Con­nected af­ter Dis­con­nect­ing.

One of the down­falls of the dig­i­tal world of to­day is us­ing our smart de­vices to es­cape our fears or ig­nore what is hap­pen­ing right in front of us. So the next time you reach into your pocket for your phone, ask your­self: why? This first step is cru­cial as it helps you be­come aware of per­sonal chal­lenges and what will as­sist you in over­com­ing them.

The Elec­tronic Fast

A sud­den elec­tronic fast may seem fright­en­ing, so many ex­perts rec­om­mend

eas­ing into it for seven days. “Go­ing cold turkey is daunt­ing, so the week eases you in gently – from cut­ting down on par­tic­u­lar as­pects of your phone use to get­ting used to leav­ing it be­hind from time to time,” ex­plains Tanya Goodin, founder of Time To Log Off and author of the dig­i­tal detox guide, Off. The seven-day detox fits in with a typ­i­cal week of work and you start by delet­ing all so­cial me­dia ac­counts. The phone diet adapted from The Guardian’s Begin­ner’s Guide To Di­vorc­ing Your Phone is as fol­lows:

Day one: You do not need your phone dur­ing the night, so put it away. If you need the alarm clock, make sure your phone is near enough so you can hear the alarm or sim­ply get an alarm clock. Con­tinue this through­out the week.

Day two: Do not carry your phone around with you when you get home – put it in a cen­tral place and use your phone there when nec­es­sary.

Day three: Re­move your work email ac­count from your phone – do not for­get to no­tify your manager.

Day four: En­joy life! Go out for din­ner or walk the dogs, but leave your phone be­hind.

Day five: Set your phone to aero­plane mode dur­ing the day; when you need to use it, sim­ply change this mode for the nec­es­sary time.

Days six and seven: Com­plete your dig­i­tal detox by keep­ing your phone switched off and put away from 19h00 on Fri­day un­til 08h00 on Mon­day.

You will slowly learn to use your phone sim­ply when nec­es­sary – or you can chose to fast com­pletely for the next week.

De­tach­ing from a Tech-fo­cused Life­style It is seven days later. What now? The In­ter­net is 24/7! Dig­i­tal communications may be a big part of our per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life­styles, but it does not have to take over our lives. You may be feel­ing the pos­i­tive ef­fects of detox­ing such as feel­ing re­freshed and con­nected with “real” life. It is now time to make a choice. “Ev­ery time I choose to en­gage with tech­nol­ogy, for me, it is just that – a choice. I am not au­to­mated, I am not al­low­ing my tech or the pings, dings, notifications, or buzzes of the peo­ple on the other end dic­tate how I am spend­ing my day and time. So I prac­tise mind­ful tech,” says Jess Davis the founder of Folk Re­bel­lion, a brand aimed at bring­ing aware­ness to the ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal-free liv­ing.

While tech­nol­ogy cer­tainly sim­pli­fies our lives, it has the ten­dency to take over if you al­low it. If you are find­ing this true, a dig­i­tal detox could be for you. You may find that, as a re­sult of low­ing your smart­phone use, you are more pro­duc­tive on the work front, and your per­sonal life may im­prove, too.

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