Something happened to me recently that forced me to confront a controlling addiction.
No, it’s not alcohol.
I am finally forced to face the fact that I have a debilitating reliance on electronic connection. My iPhone rarely leaves my hand, but steals more than it provides. It is a crutch for my introversion, allowing me a false sense of connection with others. It is a black hole, fuelled by my desire to interact, giving a dishonest feeling of community. It allows me to hide, eyes fixed on a screen, evasive of acknowledging my fellow human beings in the flesh. It gives me escape from social pressures at gatherings.
It is a thief, this connectivity.
The stress and anxiety I faced when the digital connection was suddenly severed pressed me to reevaluate how I live. My beloved iPhone stopped charging, and as the battery bar dropped closer to 1% my heart sank with it, and I was filled with dread. What do I do?? How do I fix it? I can’t be without my phone! I frantically Googled for suggestions on how to “cure” my precious companion. I rushed to the phone doctor, the Apple store, only to be gently broken the terrible diagnosis – my Precious had a fried hard drive, and would never again be among the living.
Cue frantic panic here.
Oh no! I have no phone what am I going to do? My life is on that phone! What if someone is texting me right now?
In that moment of desperate reliance I came face to face with an addiction I had never seen coming.
Can you relate?
We have a beautiful thing going with all the technology in our lives. We can connect with people around the world, have access to a wealth of knowledge on any topic at our fingertips; we learn and advance and grow and thrive thanks to the internet. Without it I don’t believe I’d have found the inspiration to conquer my anxiety disorder.
BUT – how much is too much?
My phone is the first thing I reach for when I wake up.
It’s the last thing I look at before bed.
It’s checked every few minutes at work.
It provides Facebook and Pinterest as constant escapes.
It’s with me at the gym.
On dog walks.
While visiting with family or friends.
It’s turned on the second my airplane lands at the destination.
So now I am changing the way I use technology . I am freeing myself from the dark clutch of dependency. I am implementing a minimalist attitude toward technology. I am taking back my strength in connecting with humans face-to-face, in the flesh.
Are you in need of a digital detox too?
Here’s how I’m pursuing reconnecting offline in my life. Give it a try in yours too!
// I’ve gone back to my prehistoric iPhone with the cracked screen and much slower speed, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a new phone. The technology becomes obsolete so fast that the money is never worth spending. I still owe my provider $160 for my fried phone! But with my minimalist attitude now I’m not even sure why I upgraded my phone in the first place. This one works fine. I never needed that “new best thing”.
// My phone now serves a very limited purpose – calls, texts, email and the weather report. That’s it, that’s all. A watch on my wrist tells me the time. A notebook comes with me everywhere, for jotting ideas and info as they come to me. Facebook and Pinterest can be viewed at home on my laptop. This greatly reduces the sense of distraction the phone gives, and it is so FREEING.
// The phone stays in the car when I go somewhere that requires human interaction. This one was the most nerve-wracking as an introvert, as I’d escape to my phone when I didn’t know what to say or I felt nervous talking to certain people. But it was rude, weak and evasive and the people on the other side of the table had a decided disinterest in me because of the disrespect I showed them. I’m not hiding from connection anymore. As an introvert it requires a bit of prep before I go out, so I can have topics ready to discuss. This also changes my body language, forcing me to be more open and available. The best part about that? It draws people to me. Now they want to talk to me and the pressures off. I’ve suddenly become more interesting, all because I left the phone in the car!
// When I go to the gym or walk the dogs the phone goes on airplane mode. I need my beloved music to pump me up and don’t want the added expense of an iPod (minimalist at work!) so I make sure music is all I have access to when I’m moving my body. No chance for texting or scrolling Facebook – that distraction makes me momentarily unaware of my body, which makes my workout less affective. Now I relish that hour of digital silence, where I get in tune with myself, breathe deep and fill my mind with awareness of this beautiful world and my place in it.
This new approach is a game changer for me. It’s gifts include:
// Greater awareness
// Forging deeper connections with people
// A greater sense of community (smiling and making eye contact with a stranger is empowering!)
// A sense of calm and peace as my mind is less distracted
// Simplicity brings me joy and mental clarity
// I feel more creative and am focusing my time and mind on a new project instead of escaping into the internet rabbit hole
Do you feel like the pull of digital distraction leaves you less connected to the people around you? What changes could you make to reduce your reliance on technology? We’d love to hear what you think!