Updated: Oct 14, 2020
I usually find that I’m most plugged in during the holiday season (cue: New Years invites, Starbucks seasonal menu items, Cyber Monday deals, etc.) but despite my own inability (or rather, my lack of desire) to unplug at this time of year, science tells us time and time again that, well, we’ve gotta do it - or at least try.
Getting off the grid is as daunting a concept as any. I know plenty of people who would rather very literally jump off a moderately sized cliff than detach from social media, Netflix and (newly) Disney + for two weeks. It’s not an easy grind, but hey, life ain’t easy, and you better get used to it.
We’re constantly inundated with information and data that details the negative impacts that social media and technology have on our lives. Things like worsened sleep quality, poor eyesight and negative self image can usually be traced back to some technological fault. It takes some serious reflection to think of the days when I would wake up and not immediately check Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and do that same social-media dance for 45 minutes. Simple were the times when a fun night needed not be documented across the entire digital world, or when a friend’s birthday didn’t require 16 Instagram stories in order to prevent a very real fight. So simple, indeed.
Let’s break this down.
We like keeping up to date with everyone’s lives. That makes sense. Sure, it keeps us all connected and I have the absolute privilege of knowing when my middle school friend’s brother is going to prom - great. To be fair and completely transparent, I think on some levels it’s really cool - social media lets us create our own profiles and have some individuality in that way. It gives us a weirdly complicated but tangible sense of self by letting us design our, well, selves. But…
That’s problematic as hell. For obvious reasons. Making our lives dependent on pictures and videos that are supposed to encapsulate our human experience is pretty fucking stupid. It doesn’t really make sense, and it denies us a level of humanity that I think we all need. This isn’t to say I don’t like or use social media (because I totally do) but it is to say, social media and technology have taken over so much of what it means to be human that we easily forget all the life that exists outside of it.
As I said, this shit has its perks. Definitely. I have friends who live halfway across the world with whom I would have zero communication if not for Snapchat or Facebook. But we’ve let this stuff spiral so far that we can’t even distance our real lives from our digital ones.
Tech and all of its consequences are literally bad for us - physically, mentally, spiritually and in just about every other -ally way you can think of. Despite connectivity, we lose so much by being constantly plugged in. Even just looking at screens is harmful to our minds and bodies. Remember when we used to play outside? And when we would breathe the air that comes from actual real life trees? Barely, I know.
So, I propose that we all try our best to distance ourselves from social media and technology in the hours, days and weeks to come. To just do our best to reflect on the way that we are either negatively or positively impacted by its influence, and to adjust our lives accordingly. As I’ve learned and as I’ve practiced, this life is not so much concerned with generality, but that it strives to be personal. In that way, I think a digital detox is uniquely individual and can be activated by doing something as simple as not scrolling through social media first thing in the morning.
If you decide to follow this detox (in any way, shape or form) I’ve attached a list of things that you can do to avoid boredom. Unless, like me, you think boredom has some genuine benefit to the human mind. If that’s the case for you, by all means, roll with it. Otherwise, here are some ideas:
1. Call your grandparents
2. Call your parents
3. Call everyone you’ve ever met (or don’t, but don’t rule this one out too quickly)
4. Do some yoga
5. Go outside
6. Write some shit down
7. Make a list (or twelve)
8. Cook something
9. Write a letter (& actually mail it - stamps are still a thing, I swear)
10. Read a physical book (these are real, too)
11. Take a bath
12. Light a candle
13. Go to a bookstore
14. Buy (& wear) some new socks
15. Move the fuck around!
16. Find a baby (or small animal) and commence playtime
17. Drink tea