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The other day I said I was going to stop drinking coffee for the rest of the month. It’s been 3 days and I’ve already experienced being super tired with a pounding headache. Eek, this is going to be harder than I thought. But I’m not ready to write about that experience yet.
The week before I tried a digital detox.
I basically went without looking at a glowing screen (on purpose) for two days. When I first started it I kind of freaked out. How could I possibly survive? I mean, no smartphone use, no social media, no Netflix, no radio… how could I manage? It’s only two days right?
I did give myself an exception, I could use my smartphone to set my alarms and journal about my experience.
The first day was really hard, I noticed how any time I had to wait, I instinctively went to look for my phone. I had to sit on the toilet and just go to the bathroom. I could have read a book, but nope, I was going to just sit and go. It was difficult at first, because I felt the alluring tug of checking social media, Reddit, reading Feedly or Pocket, etc. And to be completely honest, this meant no looking at porn in the bathroom either. I could actually just sit and be present and think, or not think, or meditate. It was nice.
On Day 2 of my digital detox, it was easier. I ended up reading over 100 pages to finish The Holographic Universe. An amazing book by the way. I ended up doing chores, cleaning up around the house, playing piano and drums, exercising, and meditating. I also went shopping and went to the park.
What I learned on my digital detox was just how addicted I am to my digital devices. Despite my growing dissatisfaction for social media, I still go on it. Facebook is one of those sites that I go to, get mildly stimulated for a brief moment as I browse through my notifications, get lost in the newsfeed, forget what I was doing, and then leave the site feeling kind of drained, disappointed, or somehow worse than when I started.
I already uninstalled Facebook and Twitter from my phone months ago and never missed it. It felt like a relief actually. And the other day I finally uninstalled Facebook messenger.
As I began my first week on the “new job” of working from home as a self-employed freelancer, I started noticing my distractions a lot more. I had set intentions of the work I wanted to do, but notice my tendencies to procrastinate and put off the real work. Email was another huge distraction, so I only check it once a day and never on weekends.
Just two days of being away from a glowing screen – plus an intuition that keeps growing within me, is that I am so tied to technology. My consciousness is spread thin and is constantly being poked at by a gazillion web services I’ve signed up for over the years. Despite turning off notifications, there are still reminders everywhere.
In my transition out of Go Media, I found myself having to switch the emails on more accounts than I can remember.After awhile, you lose track of just how many new apps and services you have signed up for. All of which you give a way a small share of your attention. Each app or service hopes they can get more of your attention so they are constantly trying gamified tactics to make you addicted to their service. Facebook and Google being the prime examples.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I am off Facebook completely in the next month or two. I know how to reach the important people in my life without it.
My digital detox has helped ground me more in the physical reality. I’m starting to just get bad vibes, or a feeling of dissonance when I think about going on the computer. I am finding more pleasure in just being present without distraction. It’s slower. It’s more peaceful. It’s quieter.
Best of all, I’m able to be mindful and aware of my urges and habits. I can look them in the eye and see how many of these habits were simply ways to avoid thinking or doing important work. They were anxiety remedies, but they actually create more anxiety than they relieve. They were time killers and small bits of effort-free dopamine rushes that is like eating fast food instead of raw, whole foods.
It helped me become aware of my craving for novelty and constant consumption. I want to create space and get rid of these distractions to focus more on what’s going on inside.
I’m eliminating caffeine, sweets, and porn from my life for the rest of January. Those are some terribly addicting activities that will force me to see what life is like without it. I hope to even out my energy levels and hopefully not feel so anxious or reliant on stimulants to motivate myself.
For more, check out the podcast we did on Habits