Simplicity is the peak of civilization. ~Jessie Sampter
I have just finished discussing over the phone with a friend whom I noticed has been off the usual social media platforms for about a month now. He told me that switched off his data and took a much-deserved break from the barrage of the mostly garbage info we lap up from today’s digital world.
It was a worthwhile decision he told me as he bought some Jeffrey Archer novels and began to rediscover his reading habit. Interestingly he didn’t miss much or let me say he felt he didn’t miss much rather he gained much. His wife had just returned from across the Atlantic with a new baby and time off social media was swapped for bonding with his growing family.
He said unlike before they now stay in the bedroom chatting for hours without the incessant notification sounds that interrupt your flow during family discussions. Ultimately he is happy because he is loving up with his wife as they now share jokes and banter like twins.
When I finally asked him to check the message I sent via WhatsApp he laughed and replied: “ Cmoni I’m not switching on my data even for you”. He gave me his wife’s number to forward the message to him.
I commended him and told him that I also planned to embark on that route soon. As a matter of fact, I have already taken the kids shopping for books in preparation for our proposed digital detox.
As a student at Cardiff University, I was very much addicted to social media. I was staying alone in a faraway land and had to connect with friends and family. In school, at home, on the bus or even while strolling on the streets, I would be chatting away on yahoo/blackberry messenger or Facebook.
However, the primary aim of being in South Wales was never lost on me, and even if there was any chance of that, the weekly writings involved in my coursework never allowed it. Besides the voluminous texts for recommended reading, we were required to produce an average of 2–3000 words weekly.
It may sound all too simple but when you attempt to present a 500-word article you will realize how tasking it can be. In media and communications research you rarely state an opinion without a reference. That much we discovered first hand when most of the class barely made the pass mark of 50 in our first assignment on a media report.
The lecturer reminded us then that 50 was just average but was very kind in telling us that we had little to worry about as that was the first time and we should improve as the semester progresses. And we did, most of us scored over 70 the next time.
My solution to social media addiction back then was digital detox. Whenever it was crunch time I deactivated and switched off all platforms.
It worked like magic.
While writing my dissertation, my laptop which had seen better days crashed after I had done about 14000 words. Cloud storage wasn’t common back then and even though I had some backup in my email I had clumsily forgotten to save my work for the last 2 days.
By the time I fixed the laptop, I had to claw back over 5000 words. I was surprised at how I managed to do that seamlessly. Most of the words just flowed like water out of a spring. I believe I was only able to accomplish that because my mind didn’t have to contend with the clutter of social media garbage, it had been solely focused on the thesis.
You see, we live in an age of abundant news, stories, clips, memes and what have you. The ease of sharing is also much quicker with tech companies developing new apps and platforms by the second.
Lapping up all we come across on our digital appliances is time-consuming and sometimes burdening, but the good news is that nobody is forced to do that. Except it is part of your job which of course earns you a living. Even at that, taking a break is very much within your control.
From being better organized to having more time to spend on more important things like family, work, studies, and spirituality, the benefits of a digital detox will surprise you and you could end up living as you did in the last millennium without any deficit.