In this hyper connected age of ours, where any sense of privacy, common sense and caution is pretty much thrown to the wind, we find it very much impossible to detach our physical sense of being from our digital lives. Our lives have inextricably tangled with our digital lives, be it a life of work or play, with most of our conversations ending via the swipe of a keyboard and our work being managed from a pocket computer that was previously the domain of science fiction. We find it increasingly difficult to extricate our sense of being and purpose from our digital selves, what with the compulsion to post everything on your preferred social media channel.
As such, “Digital detoxification” or digital detox has snowballed in popularity in recent years. If your average detox has you abstaining from junk or non veg and subsisting on a diet of fruits and vegetables to remove the toxins in your body, then digital detox has you abstaining from your electronic gadgets for a period of time to clear your mind and make you feel calm and generally happy. It has come to the point that tech CEOs are embarking on these digital detoxifications to get some peace of mind. (These guys did create the means for this whole shenanigan to happen in the first place, but I digress.)
Before I give tips on how to digital detox, I’ll share some personal specifics that led me to write this piece in the first place and then we get to the tips.
Right, let me wind time to 2 weeks back, to the time that me and my family were making a move to another locality due to circumstances and such. With moving day, comes a crazy amount of work to make the new home at least somewhat bearable to live in for the first 2 days, and so my family worked our asses off to arrange the furniture, clean up the house, set up the kitchen and service room and the whole works.
During that time, my senses, which were accustomed to the deluge of music, podcasts, news, Twitter and other social media, were deprived of those digital necessities that were part of my daily life. I wasn’t complaining, to be honest. I was getting my own room for the first time in my life and like a child who got a new toy, I was busy cleaning, prepping and visualizing as to how my room would look and function. I have plans for the room, which of course will be executed in due time. It was during this time that something struck me.
I hadn't touched it in some time.
Wait up........My mind...............
Huh......It's clear and........silent.
Ah, silence, a thing of enigma and beauty
How I have longed for you, my beautiful mistress
Wondering of the day that I would be in your eternal embrace
Is this that day? Will you be mine, today, tomorrow and forever?
Erm, sorry, my mind did get a little poetic that time, but yeah, my mind that usually requires some level of meditation, that I had been doing for some time, was finally clear. No earworms, no worries of the future, no anger, no useless mediations…Nothing.
It felt so good.
Those two days of moving and wandering for shops and routes to be familiar with, wound up being some of the good days of my life. It was just me, my family, my cycle and bike to wander the new place and nothing else stood in my way.
For two days at least.
But of course, all good things must come to an end. Monday came the office and to pass up the boredom and numbness, I took up the usual trifecta of podcasts, music and Twitter to distract myself for a few minutes before resuming my work like every good IT employee would. And of course, that silence that I had prized for two days kicked me in the balls and ran off to leave me stewing with my thoughts.
But of course, I don’t know if it was the meditation or the detox, but the thoughts that would hang on to me were of considerably less force. I didn’t need music or the dins, shouts, click-clacks and whirs of my office bay to drown out the thoughts in my head. I could be at peace for a good period of time last week, unless I instigated a thought storm in my head. It felt like I was locked in some eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell, both of them dragging me towards their respective domains.
It wasn’t that dramatic, but you get the drift.
So I couldn’t find much to create a listicle for detoxification, but I’ll write what worked for me and what worked for others.
Nature Treks, Long Rides etc
Essentially, any physical activity that will test your limits, keeps you focussed, can be done solo or as a group, and requires the better part of the day or week to complete it can be your detox routine. Besides clearing your mind, you also get to be fit while doing it, so double the benefits and double the fun.
If you find yourself using phones or social media during your breaks, you can opt to go old school and get yourself a map or a sat-nav from Garmin or you could buy a rugged smart watch from the likes of Casio and Garmin. When I say smart watch, these watches I mention don’t trigger Google Assistant, don’t send messages, don’t play music (mostly) and they don’t have the most fancy touch screen. What they will have are the rugged build quality, precise maps on your wrist and a bloody good battery life, unlike most puny smart watches.
Yes, even meditation 20 or 30 minutes a day won’t suffice for your digital detox. But work at it anyway. You won’t find yourself hankering for the latest update on your News Feed or Timeline, for your mind is at peace and that peace will seem very much precious to you than the latest news in “Who Kissed Who?”. Keep working at it and you will find that much vaunted inner peace.
But of course, if you want to go extreme, there are these “vipaasana retreats” that most of the big shot tech CEOs are undertaking for their rest and relaxation. Essentially, you will be meditating and meditating only for 10 days straight, with the bare necessities provided and you will be cut off from the rest of the world. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter did it and some other guys have done it. While not all of us can afford overseas trips, if it is possible, do embark on it. Otherwise, there will be some local places that indulge in these retreats.
Burn Social Media
Yeah, I know I’m asking for the impossible, but then again, most of us are glued to our phones looking up about the latest developments of what happened in the feud between some YouTubers, sorry, “influencers”. Is that even worth knowing??
If possible, burn all your accounts. Unless of course, you are making off your social media accounts, then try to limit your personal usage as much as possible.
- Instagram – Trust me, you can live without it
- Facebook – Your data is in careless as fuck hands. Also, huge, huge time waster
- Twitter – Can be useful once you take the time to curate your feed. Never go into the trending section though, it’s a fucking swampland
- Snapchat – Why?
- WhatsApp – Keep it to personal communications alone.
- Slack – Eh, most work organizations use this. So, can’t escape this.
Social Media can also make us compare our lives with the pics on those platforms, which makes it look like everyone is having the time of their lives and here you are, a miserable little fool trying to do something worthwhile and failing. Those people have their fair share of problems as well, but then again..
Most of us choose to show off our best selves to the general public for validation inspite of all our problems, so why should we be any different on social media?
Keep that in mind the next time you feel frustrated over someone’s pic on Instagram.
Most people have been hankering for a digital detoxification these days with such frequency that travel agencies have taken note of this and are nowadays providing “Detox vacation” packages, at sometimes exorbitant packages.
It’s pretty simple.
You either visit a place with a solemn vow to never touch any digital device unless it’s a matter of life and death or you visit a place where the only means of communication with the outside world is a worn down phone booth, with nothing but your wits and general thirst for adventure to survive those places. Even if you bring all your digital equipment, it wouldn’t matter a bit because either the cell reception there is a joke, or the broadband is non-existent or the electrical infrastructure won’t handle your high powered gadgets or it’s a perfect storm of all the three.
Try those out. I guarantee it will be worth it.
That’s all I have for this week. See you next week, people.
(If you are new to this blog, I publish articles for self-improvement every Wednesday at 6:00 PM Indian Standard Time. If you like my articles, do subscribe to my blog and if you really like it, do donate via the Paypal widget found below if you feel like it. A man can dream, right?)
An ever improving geek.