What I Learned Going On A Digital Detox

Who do you spend more time with….your device or your family? Take a hard and fast look at how much time you are spending turning to a device instead of your loved ones.

In a 2017 New York Times article, recent studies indicate that people check their smartphones more than 150 times per day and wouldn’t even think of going 24 hours without a device. Imagine then, if this is the case, we are rarely giving our full attention to our family. Real life connection is a necessity and should never be an afterthought of “Give me one more second”, “I’ll be there in a minute”, “Let me just finish up what I’m doing on my phone.” We are indirectly teaching our kids that objects take precedent over people.

How we get suckered into trends and lifestyle changes is beyond me. It sneaks up on us from out of nowhere. We mindlessly become followers because we see everyone else doing it and go along for the ride until one day, we are sitting by ourselves looking down at the world and think to look up.

One day, I looked up from my device with the thought, “Are people giving more attention to electronic devices than to their own family?” I wanted to test it out for myself by going on a week-long “device detox”, cleanse if you will.

What I learned going on a digital detoxLet me say this friends, it was not easy. I didn’t think I used my device THAT much and in all reality, I wasn’t on it ALL the time but boy did I learn a lot about my daily habits, how the seconds add up and how my device was subtly overtaking my life. I learned that withdrawal symptoms are legit and it had become second nature for me to reach for my device when I had news to share, when I needed to take a pic, when I needed information, when I needed anything at all. I was turning toward it instead of life. Here’s all I learned:

  • In-the-Flesh is so much better. I learned how much more I love the in-person story that exudes from people’s eyes and faces through their laughter, smiles and tears than from a screen. Experiencing emotions in the flesh rather than from a device is life-giving beyond belief and fills my bucket to the brim.      
  • Breathing again. It was like taking a breath of fresh air and savoring it for the first time. I learned that I love the feeling of freedom; the sense that a whole day is upon me and I don’t have to constantly check on something throughout the day. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could breathe again.
  • Hands are meant to create, connect and explore. They aren’t meant to cradle, cup or reach for a hand-held device for hours on end. 
  • Squirrel moments – be gone! I learned that I can be singular in focus, able to concentrate and give my full attention to something without having my whole day implode with the ever-present squirrel-like moments of a ring, a beep, a chirp or a vibrate that tell us that our immediate action and response is needed. 
  • Manners matter. Sitting in a room full of people with everyone’s heads down is disturbing and lonely. Worse yet, sitting next to people in a full-blown conversation on their phone is disheartening. Let’s take back manners and look people in the eye and be with the people who are right next to us.
  • Wildly happier looking up. I was no longer hunched over my device like a turtle in a shell seeking bliss and easy refuge. I learned that I am wildly happier looking up rather than looking down. I now walk into a room craving faces instead of the retreat of my device to fill the possible void of self-consciousness, awkwardness or worse yet, self-importance. There is nothing that compares to real live in-person interaction and connection. It will always challenge, fuel and push you outside your comfort zone and help you grow and connect in ways a device could never do. 
  • Waking up and remembering. I felt like I awoke from a deep sleep. I reprogrammed a bad habit.  I left the phone out of the bedroom and I woke up and did what I wanted to do instead of turning to a device telling me what to do at the start of the day. This completely revamped my spirit and helped me to remember again. I remembered what it was like not to have a hand-held device and remembered the “old me” and all she did without one.  Remember her?
  • Being a part of the “Real World”. I learned that I miss the real world. Life goes on with or without a device in hand. Virtually watching others and life being lived out onscreen isn’t how we were meant to live our lives. Contrived beauty can be inspiring but real life action and work feeds and nourishes the soul. 
  • Keeping Up Isn’t Necessary. This technological era of always being in the know is the new revolution of the old antic, “Keeping up with the Joneses”. It is okay not to “keep up”. You don’t have to race back to your phone to get all the latest and greatest. It will always be there. The virtual world will always be there, the real world will not. 
  • Connecting with Nature. I realized that as seemingly “connected” as I was with the world through a device. I had disconnected from myself and from nature. We are meant to spend time alone and be outside exploring the world. We are not meant to be sedentary and inside all day behind a screen creating a false sense and illusion of connection. 
  • We Choose. We choose what we do in life. The world is constantly changing before our very eyes. We do not have to follow along with each and every thing the world tells us to do. Find and create YOUR happy place. I want to take back the freedom to think for myself and not rely on a device telling me what to think, what to do or how to react. There is so much more to life than a device. Choose Life. 
  • Go Live. Your virtual life is forever. Your time on earth is short…go live the life you were meant to live and be with the people who matter most to you.  

I felt such a sense of relief after going on this “detox”, recognizing how I could have spent the next 50 years of my life misusing a device. This is not a way of life I would wish to pass on to my kids.   

I know for certain that I want to leave a legacy where my kids know their mom, know the color of her eyes, know the looks and nuances of her face, know her laugh and truly see her.  I want a life, not an “e-life”. This “digital detox” has given me a fresh perspective. I am not extreme enough to say I will never touch a device again, let’s be real. What I do know is that I will look to a device with a renewed sense of purpose and perspective. It won’t be the first thing I turn to when I have news to share, I will turn to my loved ones and share with them. More importantly, it won’t be the last thing I shut my eyes to at night. I will shut my eyes to family, faith, hope, gratitude, love and dreams. I will forever say goodbye to prioritizing a device over people and make the conscious choice to devote my time to my family, my peeps and my world.  

Wish me luck because next up is a digital detox for the kids. If you have any suggestions on how to make this go as smoothly as possible, I’m all ears!

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One Response to What I Learned Going On A Digital Detox

  1. Jeaneen June 26, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    Such great thoughts & perspective Elayne!! Thanks for sharing all you learned. Loved what you had to say. I too want my kids to know me & know they are more important than a device. It makes me kringe to think I unknowingly put a device before them…ugh! Always learning & improving is the goal. Thank you, thank you.

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