Digital Detox in the Age of Tech Anxiety

Artwork by Hana Zarea/HerCampus (2015)
I’m not addicted to my smartphone!” — says everyone.

A recent study found that we spend an average of 90 minutes a day on our mobile phones. That figure may not sound compelling, but that amounts to 23 days a year. That means 3.9 years of the average person’s life is spent staring at their phone screen!

What’s the wi-fi password?
Is there any charging outlet around here?

Sound familiar?

We’ve all had that unpleasant moment when our phone ‘dings’ and the “low battery” message pops up on our screen. We frantically look for our charger and plug it in. Sometimes we wish that phone batteries could last forever without charging.

What about when you’re stuck in a long flight, up in the air, totally disconnected from the internet? When you’re out of choice, you’ll be flipping through that glossy in-flight magazine, thinking of what you’ve been missing out on in the online world.

We get agitated if our phones are not within sight. We get agitated when our phone “dings” and we have to wait a few minutes to check the notification. We’re dying to know how many likes we’ve got for that selfie we took around 25 times, took 10 minutes to edit, and another 10 minutes to think up a caption. We spend more time than ever interpreting our lives for others to consume online.

Another recent study has shown that getting ‘likes’ online can generate natural “feel good” chemicals in our brains, but can ‘likes’ ever truly bring happiness?

Artwork by Banksy (2014)

What does this all mean to us?

Sometimes we can forget that we live in a real, living, planet when we only see life through the lens of a phone or a desktop screen. We know that always being connected to the internet is a total buzzkill. We feel guilty that we’re constantly plugged in. Yet we keep coming back for more.

If you don’t remember what it’s like to switch off and live without constant connection, if you are exhausted by your phone constantly beeping, an overflowing inbox, and feeling overwhelmed by your gadgets, a digital detox could be what you need. You know you need to take regular offline breaks from your digital life. By doing a digital detox, you take the time to step back and re-charge yourself.

5 reasons you need a digital detox:

1) To remember to be human

Artwork by Ajit Johnson (2015)

As social life becomes ever more digital, we start to lose the ability to interact and have real-world conversations with others. We don’t look at people the same way anymore when we talk to them. Instead of looking at them in the eye, we look downward to our phone screens instead. Meaningful conversations have changed. You know that time when you and your friends are hanging out, then a trivial question comes up, and you Google the answer? We’ve lost the opportunity to gain insights into the way another person’s mind works.

Sherry Turkle, the tech expert, said in her TED talk,

we are tempted to think that our little ‘sips’ of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t.”

We are starting to lose the conversations that form bonds between people. We take the ability to connect online with friends and family for granted these days. How can the quality of connection on these digital platforms be compared to real-life connections? Will the internet ever replace real, human, experiential happiness? Disconnect your high-tech devices and reconnect with the closest people around you. Have some real-life conversations with your friends, your family and your loved ones.

2. To remember to have some time for yourself

Artwork by Ajit Johnson (2015)

We need to remind ourselves that life is not all about work, and being ‘available’ on weekends for work-related stuff. Break the pattern. Switch off for 24 hours and do something you’ve always wanted to do, something you didn’t do because you were too busy looking at what other people were doing via facebook and instagram.

Create something. Get the creative juices flowing. Draw, paint, make music. Get that adult colouring book for mindfulness, the latest craze for curing stress and anxiety. Pick up that book you never finished and challenge yourself to finish it. Try that recipe you’ve always wanted to try, and share the food with your loved ones. You can do absolutely ANYTHING in 24 hours of switching off.

3) Break your bad tech habits & shift your perspective on how you use technology

Come to think of it, do you really need to take a photo of that meal? Do you really need to instagram that gorgeous sunset you are watching? Do you feel like you have to hold your phone in your hand at all times and find yourself unable to leave the house without it? Think again. Challenge yourself to think critically about how you use your devices. Technology enables us to boost our productivity, if used wisely. The truth is, deep inside we can feel that our devices and social media accounts are making us more distracted and constantly checking our email and Twitter is making us less productive.

4) To get a quality rest

Artwork by The Odyssey Online (2016)

Studies have shown that people who check their phone before going to sleep can miss out on high-quality rest. Harvard Medical School researchers found that using a cell phone or laptop before bed can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin and negatively affect sleep quality. Take some time to get some of the quality sleep that you’ve been deprived of while using your devices late at night.

5) Forget FOMO, Embrace JOMO

Familiar with the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)? FOMO is the creeping suspicion (usually generated by social media) that kicks in when you are missing out what your friends did or posted. You feel distressed when you see that other people are having more fun than you. Forget the fear of missing out. It’s time to embrace the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO). It’s about enjoying your time, fully uninterrupted and undistracted. Live in the moment for the moment’s sake.

In need of digital detox?

Join us in disconnecting from our devices on 9 March 2016. In the spirit of Nyepi — the Balinese day of silence, meditation and reflection — Kopernik invites you to join the Digital Detox fundraising challenge.

On this day, we challenge you to disconnect from your digital devices and reconnect with your family and friends. We’re making a commitment to disconnect from our devices and switch off for 24 hours. We will disconnect to reconnect with ourselves and the people around us in a more meaningful way.

When your family and friends sponsor your Digital Detox, they are helping you to raise funds to connect people in remote communities with life-changing technologies for the first time. With the money you raise through your Digital Detox, Kopernik will connect clean birth kit technologies to mothers-to-be in Syria who have been displaced from their homes and communities by the ongoing civil war.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Feby Ramadhani’s story.