Why everyone needs a digital detox

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Today I was in the beautiful Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, mid downward facing dog with 40 or so other wannabe yogis when the unmistakable sound of a text message rang through clear as day. We all know the sound, yet everyone pretended to ignore it. That hotline went so bling, but even Drake ignored it. Then another one came through. And another. Someone was popular. Eventually the uber popular yogi saved everyone’s chakras and turned it off.

It started to dawn on me for the rest of the day just how connected we all are. This is nothing new — devices are everywhere. Wifi is everywhere. We all know this.

What intrigued me though is how connected we all choose to be. How this person couldn’t bear to disconnect for just 90 minutes. To do yoga, possibly the most zen and therefore digitally disconnected activity you could do.

To give this story some context, I’m in Bali and I don’t have roaming turned on. For the past week, people haven’t been able to call or message me, and I only get emails, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp and all the other (cr)app when I connect to wifi. If I choose to connect to wifi. Mwahahaha. Because often I just don’t.

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It’s fantastic. I feel totally free and in control of where and when I want to receive communication. The same thing happened a few years ago when I spent four months in South America. I had absolutely no phone or device (iPad, laptop etc) of any sort whatsoever. For four months. It forced me to explore more, meet more people and live in the moment.

Although I’ve now done this a few times travelling, I started wondering how I could integrate it into my everyday life. I’d happily only check my emails once a week and check my phone every now and then, but it doesn’t seem possible because people expect responses and they expect them fast.

If I’m honest, like most people I think there’s an element of not wanting to miss out, aka FOMO (fear of missing out) that makes me/us constantly check our phones and be online. When you’re abroad you’re guaranteed to miss out anyway so this is eliminated.

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Tom Uglow from the Google Creative Lab in Sydney mentioned at a Tractor event at Vivid last year that it’s not the device we’re addicted to, it’s the information that flows through it. He theorised that if we as humans were able to get this information in a much more natural way, we wouldn’t be so ‘addicted’ to our phones.

Enter wearables and the internet of things.

I tend to agree with Tom, and am 100% down with anything that automates or streamlines my life, but also love being totally disconnected.

Maybe the answer is a more regular ‘mini digital detox’ of two days here and there. Or as a lot of productivity books and guides suggest, schedule set times to check emails etc and only do so in those times. Turning on or off your phone/tablet/laptop is a choice, as is how frequently (or not) you check it.

I’m going to put both to the test in the ‘real world’ and choose to more consciously control my digital connectedness and see what happens.

Check back to see what happens. Or don’t, if you’re in a yoga class right now.

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