The Digital Detox

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Last week I talked about the prospect of doing a Digital Detox; my husbands’ suggestion which I actually was quite happy to get on board with. I’m as guilty as anyone for having some sort of ‘smart’ device within grabbing distance at all times both day and night and whilst I might not ‘tweet’ my every move or ‘instagram’ every trip to the park or supermarket (yes that’s the extent of my exciting life these days), there are times when I catch myself on my phone just for something to do! Surely this can’t be setting a very good example for my child…already she’s more fascinated by my Facebook page than she is with her Encyclopaedia Britannica (perhaps I’ve set the bar a little too high!)
So with this in mind, we spent Saturday technology free! No phones, tablets, laptops, TV or Radio! Waking up on Saturday morning I had no idea what time it was as I’d usually use my phone to check this too, however given that it was the dulcet tones of my child bleating for attention from the room next door that had woken me from my slumber it had to be somewhere between 6.30-7pm. Saturday morning routine continued as per normal but what struck both of us was just how quiet and still it was. It’s not like our house is a 24/7 rave, but without that background tone to fill your subconscious you are left with this eerie silence that at first is a little disconcerting. Whilst our daughter had her morning nap we both lay on the sofa reading, he chose Martin Seligmans ‘Flourishing’ to keep up the mindful/positive psychology ethos, whilst I decided to catch up on Gwenie and Chris Martins break up (far more high brow). This was not only relaxing but also made me realise that whilst I use technology as a distraction, I’m never really giving myself any down time. Like many mums, I’m always multitasking. When she naps I usually try to prep meals, write a blog, send a couple of emails, text a few friends as well as having a shower and making myself look presentable – having my phone to hand means I can do all these things at the same time! Not having the option to do this almost forced me to switch off, not something I do very well.
We went for our usual Saturday morning run, though not being able to track our route or see how fast we’d run was slightly frustrating; how people coped before the day of instant GPS feedback I’ll never know, but it was surprisingly refreshing to run without the ‘mapmyrun’ lady telling me how many miles I’d covered, I felt almost at one with nature (exhaust fumes and home counties traffic). We went out for some lunch and whilst we did have a quick flick through the papers we spent the majority of our meal conversing. It’s not that we don’t talk to each other generally, but what we both observed was that our communication went from a monologue with a few obligatory grunts of acknowledgement to a two way dialogue. We both had each others full attention as we talked; we weren’t trying to scan through messages or BBC sport headlines whilst pretending to listen at the same time. This meant that our conversations were longer; we covered more than just the skeleton basics of the topic and this lead one conversation onto another. Sounds terrible doesn’t it, surely this is basic, respectful communication etiquette and should undoubtedly be the ‘norm’ in every household? However I don’t think I’m necessary alone when I admit that maybe we do let technology creep in to our homes, lives and relationships just a wee bit too much. After all, how can you give anyone your full attention when you have one eye on them, half an eye on the TV and the other half watching your phone flash with a message you are dying to read.
We spent the evening round at friends for dinner which was lovely. They weren’t embracing the digital detox so it was a bit of a shock to the system to be confronted by Shrek 2 on a 50” HD TV at full volume after the peace and tranquillity of our house, however after several hours of alcohol induced dialogue over dinner and a couple of heated rounds of Articulate it became more and more apparent that you really don’t need technology to have a good time.
We both agreed that we wouldn’t like to do it everyday as quite frankly the internet is really quite useful. If you were by yourself for the day it could also be quite lonely and isolating, however a day or 2 every month or even an hour every day could actually be no bad thing. Was I met with an overwhelming barrage of messages when I switched back on – sadly no, had I missed anything earth shatteringly important in that 24 hour slot – no, but most importantly, did we enjoy it – definitely Yes!

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