A ‘Digital Diet’ is what we need !

Problem

Last weekend. I tried the un-thinkable ! Well… ‘unthinkable’ for my family at least. After a very hectic Friday — staring at screens of different sizes — Laptop, cell phone, ipad and. TV , my eyes were dry while my mind was racing through random thoughts. The monitoring app on my phone showed over 120 unlocks through the day — which meant I was fidgeting with my phone practically every 7 minutes of being awake. Now, that was the real trigger.

Out of sheer frustration, I decided to spend a ‘No Screen Saturday’ . A weekend without looking at any form of ‘screen’ . And this my friends, is harder than we can imagine after all a no screen day also means you have to stay without the i-n-t-e-r-n-e-t.

My experiment

When I woke up Saturday morning, I felt different. The first 60 mins of the day itself hinted at how natural and fresh the day was going to feel. They consisted of reading the. newspaper (in print) and magazines and listening to the birds chirping (yes, I did that) . I did have the occasional urgency for which I had to ask my wife to dial a couple of numbers. That was about it. Living through the entire day this is what I realized —

How I felt

a. It takes time to feel comfortable in your skin

I think the biggest impact of having technology so accessible is that it makes us less comfortable with ourselves. We as humans have become addicted to it. Think about it — when was the last time you spent your ‘me-time’ ? When was the last time you travelled in a bus/cab/train not reading messages but looking outside the window to enjoy the view?

Just spending time without the internet shooting information at me felt liberating. I was able to think about my personal, professional life and how I was feeling about it. My mind felt at ease and was calmer than usual. Towards the end of the day I was less anxious, more composed and felt at ease with myself. The feeling can only be experienced.

b. My communication and observation. improved

Once the information overload stopped, I could observe details in my environment much better. My listening improved drastically as my mind wasn’t processing excess information. And it felt like I had more time than I usually have through the day. The 12 hrs I was awake felt satisfying. as I could spend time with family, friends and even listening to the radio.

Naturally, I did have moments when my FOMO peaked and I was curious to know what my friends were discussing on Facebook, Twitter and whatsapp. But fortunately enough, I could distract my mind to something more fruitful and successfully complete the experiment.

The tools

Coming to the tools — I have been using the ‘Breakfree’ app since a few weeks. The results on the app motivated me to reduce my dependence on my cell phone. The app gives your information on how many times your unlocked the screen, App usage through the day and gives you reminders if you overshoot the set target amongst other things. But my best feature is the ‘unlock pop up’ . This setting opens a screen everytime you unlock your phone showing your addiction score followed by a question — ”Do you really need to check your phone right now?”. You can either choose to say “Yes, I know what I am doing!” or take the cue and not check the phone.