Every morning I wake up and the first thing I reach for – is not K, but my smartphone. Having quickly glanced though the deluge of emails, mostly spam, I move on to Facebook. Satisfied that I haven’t missed any life-changing event in the lives of my friends over the last 6 or 7 hours that I was asleep, I check WhatsApp. Having replied to other digi-freaks like me, who slept later than me or have been up earlier than me, I finally turn over to see if K is up. Of course he is – checking his emails and messages in the loo!
Analysis of a typical day in my life revealed that I spend most of my time reading the online news (we don’t subscribe to newspapers), Skyping with family, Whatsapp-ing with friends, blogging, Facebook-ing and cooking (if only it could be done virtually!). But hey, I still get my recipes off the internet!
In an era of free wi-fi, internet-on-the-go, smartphones, ipads, kindles, etc, switching-off is not only tough, but almost impossible. I don’t remember the last time I went anywhere without my phone. Its like the phone has become an extension of me. We shop together, we dine together, we watch movies together, we even go to the restroom together! Oh my word – I am a DIGI-addict.
What is more shocking and really scary is that I am not alone – most of us are digi-addicts. A quick search on Google for the phrase ‘Digital Detox’ opened up so many articles, studies and actual detox programs that I am convinced its a global epidemic. If you are still not convinced, just observe other people whilst seated in a restaurant. Almost all tables will have at least one diner (a very conservative estimate to be honest), staring at her or his phone!
Even I didn’t believe I was an addict until recently, when I mis-placed my smart phone and was close to a meltdown! This was a wakeup call. Did I want to be one of those people who have conversations with Siri, or ‘meet’ people on Skype instead of in person, even though they live two blocks away, or explore’ the world virtually? NO! Certainly not. I needed a digital detox. So here is my plan:
1) Since I cannot turn the phone off completely, every week I will turn off the data for an entire day, to begin with. So no access to Facebook, Twitter, Whatspp, etc. Only SMS and calls. Ipads will also be off-limits. Only the use of laptops permitted to check email – but restricted to twice only.
2) Read a book (a real one) or watch a movie, without reaching out for my phone or ipad. To succeed at this, I may have to lock both items in the cupboard and throw the key or lose my memory!
3) Drive to a new place without the help of a GPS. To do that in Joburg might be a wee-bit daredevilish, but what is life without some adventure!
4) Cook a new dish by reading the recipe from a real cookbook. Despite having several recipe books, I have always turned to the ipad for help.
5) Refrain from taking the phone/ipad to bed – take the husband instead!
6) Play real games, and not the ones online.
7) Write a letter instead of an email or send a birthday card by post.
8) Go on a date with K and leave the phones at home.
9) Go on a digi-free holiday. Several holiday destinations are actually being advertised as remote and connectivity free!
10) REPEAT all the above and if still nothing works – check into rehab.
I will try and work my way through all the above over the next few weeks (minus the rehab hopefully). And I hope to be a little-detoxed, if not completely at the end of my experiment! In case you have any further suggestions or have tried anything else to get ‘less-wired’, please feel free to share it with me.