Each member of Team Ridiculously Efficient was tasked with spending one 24-hour period in September without using any screens. That meant no smartphones, no laptops, computers or tablets, and no TVs. This is how we fared.
This experiment was weird. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, and I think I’d like to try it again. As someone who has been attached to a mobile phone for 15 years, going without that connection was extremely difficult, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it the full 24 hours without at least checking my messages. But, I am proud to say that I made it through without opening my laptop, turning on the TV or checking my phone. (I did use my iPod Nano because… sanity.)
My Digital Addiction
For the first half of my day, I felt completely lost. I stayed in bed much longer than necessary simply because I had nothing to do. I should preface this by saying that I do live alone and hadn’t made any tangible plans for the day of my detox. That meant I was spending the day alone and totally disconnected from the world. The very idea of this gave me a serious case of the blahs. Throughout the day, my inner voice was constantly giving me pep talks, telling me I could make it until morning without checking my phone.
I decided that for this to work, my phone had to remain off because the temptation was just too great. This made me feel a bit disappointed in myself, that I so heavily rely on not just my phone, but the Internet as a whole. Throughout the day, I found it incredibly annoying that I couldn’t just look something up. My need for instant gratification meant that I would get super frustrated when I couldn’t instantly Google a name, place or directions. While these tools come in handy and most certainly make my life easier, it’s crazy how much time I spend Googling random things, and how much I depend on my ability to do so.
I felt super restless just hanging around my apartment, so I decided to venture outside. I walked to a nearby restaurant and had brunch (by myself because I couldn’t message anyone to come meet me -- something I never would have done, otherwise). It was quite nice, actually. I read a local paper while I ate my meal, and didn’t feel awkward or out of place without having a brunch date. It reminded me of when I travelled on my own and made me miss that type of solo adventure.
It was also nice to just not have a plan. If I wanted to go read in the park, I could. If I wanted to visit that art gallery I’ve been meaning to check out, I could. There was nothing stopping me, because I literally had nothing to do. That was a nice feeling.
Finding an Escape
Except, I ended up doing none of those things. I ran a few errands, did a bit of cleaning, then that ‘lost’ feeling started to set in again. It was evening now, and I had a whole night ahead of me with nothing to do. Instead of that being a nice feeling, it started to cause some anxiety.
I picked up a new book and just read. I read for the rest of the evening and into the night. I almost finished the entire book. This is one of my favourite things to do -- to just escape in a good novel and let the story take you over for a few hours. And it’s not something I have done in a long time because I am always checking my phone, always getting interrupted by notifications, and always Googling that random question that happens to pop into my head. So, it was nice to not have to deal with any of those outside distractions and just relax with a good book and listen to music -- my two favourite activities that I don’t spend nearly enough time doing.
Would I do a digital detox like this again? I’m not sure. I think it would be much easier if I was travelling, or spending time with friends and family, and had something to keep me busy while I ignored all my digital gadgets. Doing this detox while home alone with nothing to do -- that doesn’t sound like such a savoury idea.