In the mobile technological era we are living, smartphones are a sort of extension of our bodies and presence. They keep us in touch with the whole world, okay, but what is the price of the connection? Is there anything we can do to keep the use of mobile devices under control?
We are all addicted to our smartphones
How many people have you come across today? How many of them were just walking with a smartphone in their hands, paying so little attention to what was going on around them? I bet they were quite a lot. Researches show that, for example, Millennials unlock and check their smartphones 150 times a day. The instant, little gratification you get when you see your friends like your posts on the social networks or you get an answer to an e-mail message you sent is not worth the time you spend staring at your mobile phone.
What you are missing while phubbing
Some years ago a new word has been created by Sydney University: the word is phubbing. It comes from phone + snubbing, which is what we do when we grab our mobile phone and stare at it instead of interacting with real-life people.
You can literally ignore the person who is sitting right next to you because you are watching and commenting a video a friend posted on WeChat. This happens with strangers (on the train, in a waiting room, at the shops, for example), but also with your friends and relatives (how many times have you checked your mobile phone during a meal you had at you parent’s house), and with your children as well.
What is digital detox?
A digital detox is a period (from few hours to a whole week) during which you keep your digital devices turn off or in flight mode. No one can reach you during this period, unless they do it “the old way”, with an analogical call or showing up.
During the offline period, you can restart appreciating everyday things you probably never noticed before, and immediately feel how free you can be simply keeping your mobile phone out of reach for a couple of hours.
Why you should go on a digital detox from time to time?
You should consider making a habit of digital detoxing. For example, you could decide your mobile phone is going to be switch off every Saturday, or every weekend. Even a few hours without your smartphone in your hands would be better than nothing. You will start moving your eyes away from that small screen and discover a world you were ignoring or taken for granted.
Digital detox will make you appreciate what is around you.
With your hands and eyes free, you will start immediately enjoying the advantages of being “device-free” for some time. You will be exploring the reality that surrounds you and be present “here and now”. No distractions, no notifications, no casual photos taken without even looking at the subjects.
You are going to be very busy collecting sensations, feelings and memories.
What you should and should not do when you are on a digital detox.
I like to think about digital detox as a sort of rehab for tech-addicted. But this rehab needs to be a positive moment to experience, i.e you really have to enjoy staying out of the digital world for a while. Go out for a walk, read a book, call (or even meet!) a friend in real life. Your digital detox is being effective if you forget to check your smartphone for at least 4 hours.
Digital detox is time you gain
When you are not busy phubbing, you find out that you have more time then you may think. You can spend more time for something you care, and maybe it will be positive for others as well. Think about spending 2 hours a week, for example, helping or keeping an elder person company, or helping out in a dog shelter. Two hours a week is not a big deal for anyone, but could you make the difference both for you and the cause you are going to support with your time: every helping hand is a great relief for them, and you are going to feel better. You feel more important, useful, meaningful.
You will feel like you are not wasting your time, but you are spending for a cause you care about.
Enjoy your digital detox time
Once you experience digital detox as a positive, not imposed moment, you can gain more awareness and mindfulness in the time you spend with no connection to the digital world. Soon you will start thinking about digital detox as a sort of holiday, a day off for you and your personal, not shared, not posted, not connected activities.
Chinese version: Wei Yichen