Remember when nobody was addicted technology and people didn’t have their phones out during dinner; when people would converse with one another about their day and use… wait for it… eye contact?
Yeah, those days are over.
The faux social media detox
If you are a Facebook fiend or a social media mogul (or just someone who browses social media all day long), you have probably seen a post like this:
Hey guys. I’m taking a hiatus from social media. Txt me if you need to get a hold of me. See you soon! <3
Gag me with three spoons.
And, if you’re an astute person–no, you are Sherlock manifest–you are counting the minutes until that person who pledged to surrender social media for him or her to break the pledge and post a status or picture.
Haha. You lasted 7 hours, dude. C’mon.
But you must admit that it is a bit fatuous of us to declare to the social world we are taking a break from it. We do this, though, because we are in so much thralldom to the social web that traps us and feeds on us.
This isn’t Charlotte’s Web anymore.
What I’ve described above is what we’d call the formal announcement of a digital detox: a break of social media for the sake of prioritizing your own health, may it be physical, emotional, spiritual, et cetera. With phones at our sides and in our hands at all times, maybe it’s wise to consider one for ourselves?
Digital meets body detox
Is a digital detox worthier than a complete body detox or a colon cleanse? It depends.
Chances are, if you live in America or eat like a normal person and have a conventional diet that consists of 3-5 vegetable servings a year, you definitely need an herbal detox. And since your diet probably won’t change significantly unless you transform your ways, you might want to stick with daily detox supplements.
As for the digital detox, you might need that one too. We are addicted like never before.
Now I want to use the word “addiction” cautiously, because it is a psychological term, and flippantly diagnosing people is unwise. Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes that “addictions” for social media are less captivating addictions and more symptoms of underlying health problems, such as depression.
Our tendency to shy from interpersonal communication and seek respite on the web or through technology can be a coping mechanism, especially when we are not satisfied with the depth of personal interaction we receive on a daily basis–if any.
I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a genuine, candid conversation with a barista or someone. She may be busy, so there are times when it doesn’t work.
But the trite exchange of “How are you? “Good. And you?” “Good.” has got to go.
It’s a reflection of a text-based world we live in where everything is truncated, optimized, and streamlined to make saying or doing anything completely effortless. Phone calls are replaced with text messages, and coffee dates are superseded by swift Skype calls in bed. With groups in the generation Y, for example, logging an average of 20-21 hours of social media per month, there’s no wonder face-to-face interactions are suffering.
A bane or a boon?
It’s true that the majority of this generation feel technology makes their life easier, with many saying they feel closer to friends and family. But at what cost?
You don’t have to delete your social accounts or make binding vows, but are a few practical ways you can begin a digital detox from social media.
Delete the apps
When your muscle remembers your thumb movements, it will go to that same place on your mobile screen every time without fail. Make it harder for your muscle memory and just delete the app. You can always download it later; you can even stay logged in. Sometimes if an app isn’t readily there for your thumbs to tap, you may look up.
Choose off-grid times
Set certain hours, or even whole days, like the weekend or certain weekdays, to guard your heart from social compulsion and not check anyone’s posts or blogs or selfies. If someone needs to contact you, he/she can find a way; or you can notify important people in your life that you may be unavailable through certain media.
Tell a friend
I knowww… I mocked that one person with the digital detox disclaimer above: but seriously, tell someone. It doesn’t have to be announced to the world, but when you tell someone you have made a vow, you gain an accountability partner. Accountability is very potent. If nobody knows you made yourself a promise, it’s a whole lot easier to say, “Ah, who will know anyway?”
Call more than text
This is kind of a life hack. It actually works wonders for getting to know people better than before. Since so much of social media involves text input and on-screen interaction, hearing someone’s voice over the phone removes the artificial distance you feel in social media. You hear someone’s intonations, and each of you are beautifully revealed like never before–no longer behind a screen or app.
Put it in your pocket
Not only will incessantly holding your phone in your hand increase the chance of dropping that thing that’s near pricier than your car, it will also make it way too easy to lift up your phone and check it for some notification. Simply keep your phone in your pocket, and if you can keep it on vibrate, just wait for the buzz to check it. Buzz.
Charge your phone in the other room
“Hey, well it’s charging over there so I guess I’ll check social media on my laptop now.” NO. Let it charge; let it be forgotten. It needs its sleep. Much like you and I need our deep, recuperative slumber to make us pretty and functional, so does your phone (this might be just an analogy).
These tips for a digital detox will get you started. They might even allow you to be neighborly as never before! What are some successful ways you have detoxed yourself from media?