A friend of mine decided to go on a digital detox for few hours everyday and shared her experiences on Instagram. While I did not take heed of her escapade, it somehow managed to set camp in my consciousness. Soon, I realised that I was an equal participant of the addictive digital world when I couldn’t keep my hands off my phone while watching a show on Amazon Prime – something, we all do, in fact. My friend’s digital detox post rose up from my conscious grave only to notify me of my addiction to social media. Heck, the screen time on my phone shows that I spend more time on social media than doing something creative. A warning sign?
You see, I’m all of 23 years now. A millennial age, right? And a person in their right mind would stereotype millennials as young adults living in the digital world than the real world. I admit that I am a devotee of social media, but what makes me different is that I realise that I am almost on the verge of getting addicted. That realisation is what millennials lack today, unfortunately. It took one Instagram post for me to wrap my mind around the fact that without my phone by my side, I’m human.
Since I am now aware of my social media addiction, I make small decisions to rectify the situation. For instance, when I go get groceries, I note down the things to buy on a piece of paper and not on Evernote. Before I step out of my house to buy groceries, I leave my phone on my bed. Trust me, within five minutes, you wouldn’t even think of your phone. When I am reading a book, I make it a point to switch off my data or Wi-Fi so that I don’t get distracted by the sound (and visual pop-up) of notifications. This way, I have trained my mind to take a break from social media. After all, what’s the worst that can happen if you’re not constantly scrolling through your feed? Nothing!
Steps taken towards Digital Detox can be as small as switching off your phone for a few hours. You need not necessarily have to wake up (or sleep) looking at your phone. You’re hurting your eyes and your brain cells. I have friends who just can’t keep themselves away from their phones. I see that and I am disgusted because I realise I don’t want to be like them. Start small, see the difference it makes to your life, and then scale up the detox. Here’s what you can do.
Do not use your phone when you poop
I do it. I should stop. Instead, you can take a book or read a newspaper if you think you’ll die of boredom. Or, you can always go empty-handed quite like what a normal human being would do.
Switch off notifications
Yes, there is an option on your phone apps that allows you to disable notifications. There’s a psychological reason behind your addiction to notifications. That compulsive urge to check each and every notification that pops up on your phone is because you’re in an “infinite dopamine loop”, according to Sharon Begley, author of Can’t Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions. She says that you’re not addicted to the notification. Rather, the anticipation of notifications makes you addicted to your phone. So, when you switch off all notifications, you’re not even bothered anymore.
Distract your mind
Read a book, watch a movie or a YouTube video, cook, write, clean, etc. In other words, keep yourself occupied and away from your phone. When you do things that allows you to think, you forget about your phone. Yes, it works wonders.
These three steps have worked for me. It may not work for you, but it’s worth a try if you want to give your phone a break. Seriously though, you need to train your mind to be mindful of your surroundings. Many people who are addicted to their phones and social media tend to seek solace in what we think is other people’s perception of their world. In the process, we forget to be mindful of our own lives. Are we happy? Maybe, the key to happiness lies in understanding yourself first. And that starts by getting off the digital world that has a truckload of bullshit content, unless you’re trying to learn something from it. Who knows? You might even save lives – it’s possible!