Okay, I have something to confess. My name is Laura and I am your generic ‘#Millienial’ who is addicted to technology.
Whether it’s social media (apart from Twitter, as I talk too much to be able be condensed into 140 characters) or perusing the internet for anything from shoes to supermarket vouchers for my Mum – you name it, I Google it.
However, before we talk about my mission into the non-digital abyss (spoiler alert), I want to talk about you. Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself swapping quality time with your dearly beloveds for quality time with your smartphone? Has dinner ever been spent with one eye on your Instagram and the other haphazardly trying to engage in real life conversation? I know, we’ve all been there.
But this was where I drew the line. When I noticed I could reel off more intricate details of Youtuber’s lives than of my friends, or I was spending a lot of time dissecting my appearance whilst simultaneously comparing myself to the ‘Insta-famous’, versus having conversations with meaning – I just knew something had to be done.
As they say, Facebook likes are not a currency and I would rather have ‘Here lies Laura, a good listener’ on my gravestone rather than ‘Here lies Laura, the girl who got 100 likes on her status’.
So, after spending one Monday night psychoanalysing myself, I decided to embark on an epic voyage of a ‘digital detox’. In short, this means:
1. My smartphone would be banished to the bottom of my bag. Switched off.
2. if I’m unsure of anything I have to actually ASK A PERSON, and erm…
3. I have to log out of all social media.
This experiment would last three days, Friday-Sunday, and I planned to document my journey in the form of a diary; for extra dramatics.
Here it goes…
Friday (Day 1)
After switching off my phone, it felt like dropping my (hypothetical) first born off at school. But I am committed to having a weekend that doesn’t involve a large amount of time selecting filters. Power to the tangible world!
With it being Friday, that means I would usually be chatting away on Whatsapp about weekend plans, then tune into a couple of vlogs, before hitting the open web for a peep at my favourite shopping sites. However, as it’s my digital detox I decided to take it back to the old school and go to my friend’s house unannounced. If house phones were still a thing, I’d have asked my Mum to hold on the dial-up internet so I could talk to my friend, but it’s not 2003.
Something else also happened on Friday: we got ready for a gig and didn’t take any photographs. This was very liberating as we could actually talk, catch up and not have to worry about perfectly positioning our angles to complement our social media ‘brands’. Bliss.
After heading to the gig, another monumental event occurred – the band started and we didn’t grab our phones to get a Snapchat. Well, wasn’t that a revelation! I didn’t realise how much time I would spend watching things through the screen of my phone – whether a gig or a night out.
All in all, Friday was a great beginning to my time as a digital dinosaur – not living vicariously through other people’s social media presence was also a plus.
Saturday (Day 2)
Saturday was my first full day of being in technological darkness. It was strange to wake up and not check my phone – believe it or not I made a breakfast that wasn’t mimicked from an Instagram account. Not having the internet for back-up also meant that I spoke to my family a lot more, rather than sitting in the kitchen with my eyes glued to pixels.
One thing I noticed is that I didn’t feel as self-conscious, there were no ‘morning after the night before’ pictures that I would ultimately compare my outfit/eyebrows to or most importantly, I didn’t have any video evidence of night out antics. Have I really found the cure for beer fear?
I did find it difficult making plans. How did the previous generation cope without the humble text? However, I was savvy and made a booking with my friends on Friday. But, I still had the potential drama of them trying to find me at our meeting point – being the awkward one sans phone.
When the time arrived to head out, I found myself having a conversation with the taxi driver rather than staring at my phone. Being away from technology made me appreciate people more.
Similar to Friday, I spent the day (and night) without documenting my every move via every app. Most importantly, when ready to paint the town red I didn’t feel the need for yet another session of online comparison. For the first time in a long time I felt 100% confident.
Sunday (Day 3)
Hello Sunday! Yet again it was refreshing to wake up without reaching for that phone, and I noticed even my family found it fulfilling to have a conversation minus being distracted by notifications.
Although I did feel at times insecure about walking down the street not glued to a device, which meant having to make eye contact with passers-by. I made a fair swap on Sunday to read a book instead, making a change from my usual three-hour blog session. My eyes have definitely thanked me for it!
I prepared for the week ahead without staring at a screen until 11pm, again, my eyes and mind felt a lot more rested and surprisingly I slept a lot more easily. I can’t believe the difference a weekend can make.
I’d recommend stepping back from the digital sphere once in a while. Social media is a brilliant tool for people to connect, share views, or to become a budding entrepreneur – but there is such thing as too much.
Us Millenials are all guilty of finding validation through the means of likes and comments, however this can be extremely destructive. Nobody wants to be creating Snapchats, Vines or Instagram posts for acceptance from peers – social media should be used to support and share creativity rather than about creating a façade.
Females especially are inundated with content that pushes a particular aesthetic, and I for one was caught in that vicious circle of comparison. Stepping away from social media for just three days made me realise that there is life beyond the screen – we all have flaws and quirks but that’s what makes things interesting! Imagine if everybody’s contour was always on fleek? Yeah, we’d look good but it would be boring.
Most of all, I enjoyed real life conversation. Having to engage with people beyond texting or social media gave a lot more opportunity for a genuine connection, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of limiting your characters to 140, or losing touch with friends because they’re ‘always at the other end of the phone’ – I found it so liberating to talk about non-digi life.
So, if you’re going to do one thing before the end of 2016, step away from your phone for even one night and see how much more connected you feel with the world around you. The one that doesn’t include pixels, of course.
And always remember, everything looks better with a filter – so don’t get yourself down.