Updated: Dec 10, 2019
I took a digital detox for one night this past week - that is no cell phones, computers, iPads, or TV. My boyfriend and I decided to do this because we noticed how even when we were alone together on the couch at night, watching a movie or show, how we were both still scrolling through our phones. We got to thinking how multitasking and always doing more than one thing at once, in any given moment, has become such a norm in our society.
I know from being a blogger and trying to promote myself and my writing that I can get very caught up in consistent posting and then checking back into my account to see how many likes, comments and messages I received. It sounds silly and juvenile when you actually write it or say it out loud, how we can be so addicted to technology and even more obsessed with others "liking" our photos and content, but it's such a major element of our world today.
Cell phones can 100% be labeled as addictions. Our brains are now wired to release dopamine, a hormone associated with happiness, every time our phones ring for either a call, text or notification. There's this feeling when our phone buzzes that we're needed or wanted, thus our phones being in our pockets or bags, EVERYWHERE we go. Thus the happiness and incessant need we feel to always check it.
You ever think it's strange how we bring our phones into the bathroom with us? Or how it's our go-to companion when we're waiting in line, at a red light or in a room full of strangers? What about resting it on the table we're eating on, either when we're alone, or with another person? What is so important in our phones that we can't even give ourselves or the person across from us the decency of our full, undivided attention for that one moment? Our phone is the clutch we turn to when there's silence, discomfort or a moment where we're simply with ourselves.
What is so wrong with sitting with ourselves? With gazing out the window when at a red light or looking into a person's eyes when in a room full of strangers?
The last time I was out with friends, I noticed how we were all having conversations with each other but how most of us had our phones in our hands or in front of our faces (and not just taking photos of our dinner or posting a story on Instagram about something funny that happened) we were merely scrolling through Instagram. It's quite honestly, crazy.
I wanted to write this post because after I shared my boyfriend and I's idea for "No Technology Tuesdays," I had a lot of people messaging me about how they've been wanting to do something similar. I figured I'd share some of the small epiphanies I had from just one night of ditching the digital and opting for a book, conversation, meaningful time with my boyfriend, or simply silence. These realizations also crossed over into other aspects of my life as well, not just from bad habits with cell phone and social media use, but other patterns I've held over the years, too.
1) After I wrote my "Signing off: #NoTechnologyTuesdays" post on Instagram and Facebook, I had a date night with my boo and noticed how many times my brain signaled to check my phone and see how the post was doing. It was more than twenty times over the course of four hours.
a) Also, I thought that since my phone was tucked away, on silent and hidden in the pocket of my bag, that this would be the time that something tragic would happen and I would be desperately needed to immediately assist the "situation." Admittedly, I checked my phone a few times to make sure the sky wasn't collapsing and that my super powers weren't needed to be put to imminent use.
2) My boo and I got dinner and went bowling for our Tuesday Date Night and there were a few times throughout our bowling game that I wanted to take a video or photo and post a story about our night. This made me realize how much of my life is on display. It nudged me to ask myself, what do I value as private and sacred rather than public for the world to see? Why does everything have to be shared? What kind of life am I trying to depict and why do I care what others think of that life?
3) After getting home from bowing, (I'll admit, I lost the game, so I bought the ice cream on the way home) my boyfriend played some music from a band he just discovered and we sat playing 21 questions, coming up with ridiculous scenarios for each other to choose from. We then grabbed our books and sat intertwined on the couch and read in silence. I found myself enjoying the freshness of this moment and I valued our time together, but I also kept thinking of this show on Netflix that we love and how there was a new season out to binge watch. I judged myself hard for this; one damn night and I still wanted the distraction of a mindless show to watch. (Also, I realized how often I Google search actors' IMDb profiles, products on TV and just the random shit I think of).
4) Spending the night doing something other than our normal routine, which is often watching a movie or show since I get home late from my job, felt really great, but it also highlighted our routine. We all work and often times when we get home, we just want to do something that doesn't require much energy or attention. After all, it's our time to unwind, destress and simply be. But how much of our life is spent in front of a TV? What kind of shows are we watching and how are they absorbing into our brains and our perception of life? What if we reimagined what unwinding and relaxing means to us and chose other activities outside of watching a screen? What could we learn if we stepped outside of our comfort zones?
5) I realized how free I felt when I left my phone in a separate room and could be fully present to what was happening within me and around me; how much more special and intimate my time with my boyfriend was when we didn't always have the distractions of our phones. I noticed how in some ways, my phone, TV and laptop, felt like chains tied to me.
Our No Technology Tuesdays will now be rolled over into other days of the week, possibly into a "Take a Break Thursdays" or "Minus the Madness Mondays" (I know, so corny). I highly suggest you try this for yourself, not just to illuminate your own addictions, habits and patterns, but to release yourself from the chains that daily technology use binds you to. (And it's kind of fun coming up with acronyms for the theme of the night.)
Remember when you were a kid, before cell phones were as popular as they are today, and you'd ride your bike after school, play man hunt with friends, go to a field to play a sport, or pull out a board game in your spare time? (Or if you were a little weirdo like me, leave random notes on your friends' door stoops before ringing and running their houses). Remember how simple and liberating that time was?
We need to bring ourselves back to those simple times; to arrive back where we started, before we had instant gratification at our fingertips during every moment of the day. There's something to be said about the solitary, silent and sacred path - the path that needs no photo, no description, hashtag, likes or comments, but just you, your space, your time, your own recognition of self and the life you are choosing to live.
Some of the most amazing moments of our lives need not be shared with others, but held close to the privacy of our own hearts and minds.