Take a seat in any bar, pub, cafe, restaurant or coffee shop in London. Take a look around you. How many of your fellow patrons have a phone in their hands? How many have a laptop or an iPad? How many are occupying themselves with a digital companion?
Look around the carriage on your tube home. How many people have a phone in their hand now? How many have headphones on? How many are reading a tablet?
I’m willing to bet that it’s most of them. In a world where we can order food on our phones faster than we can find the phone number to ring up and place an order; or open an app to find a date for two hours time, to say we are head-over-heels our mobile devices would definitely be a fair statement.
In fact, I’m willing to go as far to suggest that it might be an addiction. We crave the presence of our phones, of our WhatsApp group chats and our Instagram notifications, so much so that to find us without a phone in our hands, well, that would be almost odd. And when our screens aren’t lighting up with another technology buzz, we compulsively double, triple check to make sure we aren’t missing something. We tap on our screens, reopen Twitter, check Snapchat, to make sure we don’t miss a single moment of our friends, families, colleagues and girl-I-met-once-on-a-night-out’s digital lives.
But really, what’s the worst that could happen? You aren’t the first person to like your best friend’s snap of her avocado toast. You miss your ex’s declaration of happiness on Snapchat. You reply to an email an hour after you received it. Will the world implode? No, of course not. The world will carry on ticking and you’ll see the toast, the happiness and the email later.
This demand for immediacy in our digital lives is spilling out into our normal lives. We aren’t content with next day delivery, we must instead, create drones, who can deliver our online shopping in a matter of hours. We don’t want to wait for a human to serve us our fast food, we want to place an order on another screen. We can’t bear the thought of having to look for a taxi rank, so we order a car on an app on our phones. We continue to want, want, want, and we want it right now.
And yet, in a world where most of us wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without our phones, the phrase Digital Detox is being passed around, in hushed tones and private messages. As much as we crave the companionship of our phones, we want to prove we can go without, even for a night.
So, we thought why not give it a go? What is it about digital detoxes that has the interweb a buzz with excitement? And whilst yes, we will admit to being a little on the cynical side prior to giving it a go, we are happy to report that they’re every bit as good as Instagram is telling you.
When you take out technology, it’s amazing what you find the time for. The book you’ve been meaning to read for months, a new recipe you’ve been saying you’ll try since Christmas, the yoga class you first spotted six months ago but never got around to. When you add it all up, it’s a little alarming how much time we spend tweeting, snapchatting, catching Pokemon, and all the other things our tablets, phones and laptops allow us to do.
And actually, it feels quite luxuriously decadent to do nothing, or at least only one thing at a time. Spending the evening reading a book instead of simultaneously watching Game of Thrones and answering emails, well, it feels like a treat. Bubble baths are so much more relaxing without the stress of dropping your phone in the water whilst reading the latest Buzzfeed article.
And so we implore you to this month, take a look at how much you’re using your devices. Maybe you want to try a digital detox weekend, or perhaps you just need to learn not to be watching a YouTube video AND Instagramming whilst you eat your lunch.
Have you tried a digital detox?