In 2011 I found myself, like many, spending all my time looking at a small screen constantly refreshing to get a quick hit of latest news from someone I may or may not know. I may have found the post interesting but more often than not it wasn’t. I found I would be scrolling through hundreds of posts and stopping on 1 or 2 only to look at an image or watch video.
What I had noticed was the more people posted the less important it seemed to get until it got to a point where almost everything I looked at didn’t seem to interest me at all. So why was I still looking through it all, searching the 1000’s of posts from the hundreds of connections I had just to find that one thing that made it all worth while.
That’s when I decided to take a break from it. I made the conscious decision to remove facebook, twitter, Instagram etc from my phone and start to look at the world around me as I had done prior to the internet enabled mobile phone. It was not intended to be a permanent thing but that is how it ended up such was the profound different it made to my life.
We that was almost 10 years ago now and I can honestly say I don’t miss any of it. I often get people saying to me “you saw that thing I posted on FB the other day”… only for them to realise I am not on FB anymore. That is when we have a conversation about what it was, we engage and discuss and debate which I find a much more valuable way to communicate with my friends and colleagues.
In our house when the children were younger there was a no screens at the table policy so that we had to talk to each other. I still get frustrated when I see a couple in a restaurant both on their phones whilst eating and not engaging with each other in any way. I often joke with my wife that maybe they are messaging each other but that’s their problem now mine.
I now walk around HK often having to quickly dodge people who are walking along with their head buried in their phones with no awareness of anything going on around them. I am convinced that if we continue like this in a few generations we will no longer be able to raise our heads because our muscles in our necks will change to limit that unnecessary ability to look up. We will see where we are going through an app on our phones with a proximity warning when we are about to bump into someone. I jest on this but I do worry that is where we are going.
I don’t need to see what everyone is doing at all times of the day. When I see a friend or catchup with a colleague I get to know what has been happening in their life through a good old conversation.
I have to confess that I am still on LinkedIn, but that is for a totally business use mainly for the business networking aspect. I rarely go through the feed or updates that people post simply because I find most of it is irrelevant for me. If there was an alternative to the networking side where there was no feed at all I would sign up for that.
A digital detox is not for everyone I acknowledge that and I appreciate that I am the outlier here not the norm but I encourage you to try and take a Digital Detox from Social Media for a period of time and see how you feel at the end of it. Like many people do dry January maybe we can do a week or a month where we just put the phone in our pockets or bags and leave it there unless it rings when someone calls us.
I am 10 years on from my Digital Detox and I feel great for it. I genuinely feel I have control back on my life. If you try it and you like it call me and let me know (: