Digital Detox

A digital detox, or the prolonged act of being present with yourself and your non-technological surroundings, seems to currently be the most socially acceptable form of remembering what it's like to be spiritually, emotionally and physically present. A few people I've spoken with regarding digital detoxes swear they could never do it. While the idea of being tech-free or tech-limited can be refreshing for some, many can experience a range of non-threatening FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) or debilitating anxiety when separated from their tech.

Children, younger and younger seem to be creating synapses in their brain dedicated to learning how to use tech. These synapses seem to be rapidly revolutionizing the definition of "normal" early childhood development.  The Linus [Charlie Brown] of 2017 would be carrying an iPhone 7 instead of a blue blanket. Take the blanket away from Linus and you'd get a similar reaction from a youth whose cell phone was lost or taken away. As many health and socio-emotional concerns come to mind, so do benefits of learning how to use tech at such a young age. What's seems most important though is to create space and time for life to be experienced without tech. Last year, visiting family abroad, I witnessed my cousin's 2 year old son take a good looking selfie of himself on his dad's phone, unbeknownst to his father, who initially allowed him to play a game. He then texted it to his mom's phone the same way you or I would text an image to someone. At the time, he barely knew how to speak. 

Many tweens, teens and adults have established tech as their primary source of communication, relying heavily on battery life and wifi signal. Additionally, it's no longer tweens and teens who can experience separation anxiety if their gaming console breaks or is taken away from their parents. The Nintendo, super NES and N64 generations are now well into adulthood, many of whom find comfort in the relationships they create via online gaming as well as an escape from the challenges of everyday socializing out in the world. 

Obviously it doesn't end there. A total overhaul of emotional expression continues to be influenced by tech, social media is considered a top priority for businesses of any trade or service, adult sites are taking over people's neural reward systems diminishing one's ability to experience sexual pleasure or intimacy with their partner, therapy is being provided over text message and new forms of currency, cryptocurrencies, are making their way into mainstream tech leaving the outdated behind.

Seniors who refrain from joining the tech bandwagon suffer silently, often missing out on more frequent interactions with family and friends. Having been bored in the late 80's, I missed out on the rave of Transcendental Meditation that occurred in the 70's, but I could only imagine that attempting a meditation practice may have been less taxing on the brain than it is now. Breaking the cycle of using tech is tough. Unless you're out in the woods, going on a digital detox may be simply beneficial by just saying no to the smartphone.

What I attempted to focus on during the detox was to notice what my discomfort really meant. Beyond the surface level mind-chatter of, "let me check the news", or "let me check my email again so I can swipe away 75% of it for being spam", etc. Asking myself those questions brought out wonderful, and personal, self-talks and moments worth revisiting when I'm "back to normal". Any time you push yourself to uncomfortable territory, it is imperative to log and reflect on what that discomfort means to you. Without that step, you're just allowing the discomfort to own you. This is why it's so important to explore your HumanBluPrint and see what works for you and what vital changes can drastically improve your life.

My Detox:

When I first started the digital detox I felt great for the first 10-12 hours because it was fresh and I was keen on using my tech-free distractions; books, chess, exercise, etc. The first night and second day got me a little more curious about what I was missing out on but it was nothing a little mindfulness or a mentally-investigative work to counteract my curiosity couldn't quell. 

On the third day I started recognizing how relaxing it felt to be more present with myself (it helps being across the country and away from usual surroundings). On day 4 I felt embarrassed to notice my thumbs feeling a bit more relaxed. I was also falling asleep much more easily.

On day 5, at around 12:30am, I felt an earthquake, my first (epicenter: Hawthorne, NV 12/28/16), which woke me up and basically just left me wondering what had just happened. Reflecting back on this night, I was glad to not have reached for the phone to read 8 different news articles about the same thing. I felt safe so I laid there and just took in the moment (hoping no one in Hawthorne or anywhere else was hurt of course).

From then on it was smooth sailing. I actually did pick up my phone at times to reach out to family for the holidays but I wasn't detoxing to escape people, I was detoxing to escape the less desirable feelings of reaching for my phone.

This was my third digital detox in three years. If you ever get a chance to try one out, even for 2 or 3 days, give it a shot. See what you learn about yourself.

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