This last week, we’ve been walking you through the process of unplugging from your devices. We’ve even provided you with a printable guide to unplugging. Now, we’re looking at some of the lessons and benefits to be gained from a digital detox, should you be considering one.
Author and comedian Baratunde Thurston did a 25-day digital detox, and by just the end of his first week he says he was “less stressed about not knowing new things; I felt that I still existed despite not having shared documentary evidence of said existence on the Internet … I was reading long books, engaging in meaningful conversations, and allowing my mind to wander and make passive connections I had previously short-circuited with social queries, responses, interruptions, and steady documenting and sharing of unripened experiences.”
Levi Felix, founder of Digital Detox, a company that offers tech-free retreats, says the process is “always a transformational experience.” People who leave his retreats “literally question their entire relationships with technology.”
Here, a few post-detox revelations from Thurston and other unpluggers:
We are addicted to information: “Only when I dramatically reduced my connectivity did I realize how addicted to information stimulus I had become–and that I did not need to sustain that constant high to live well and happily.”
We share too much: “…I spent an inordinate amount of time documenting, commenting on, and sharing experiences. In the process, I wasn’t fully having those experiences, since it was imperative that I tweet something relevant before they were even over.”
We are addicted to ourselves: “Never before have we had the ability to microgauge our own rhetorical value to the world. I was judging my oversharing of uninhabited experiences. Since the break, I look backward far less than before and I’ve tried to create more discrete moments for checking email rather than maintaining a constant level of inbox awareness, anxiety, and guilt.”
We need more downtime: “Will the concept of downtime have been a temporary blip in the history of civilization? The greatest gift I gave myself was a restored appreciation for disengagement, silence, and emptiness. I don’t need to fill every time slot with an appointment, and I don’t need to fill every mental opening with stimulus.”
“This amazing thing happens when we unplug: Time slows down … I look over at my husband and I’ll ask what time it is and he’ll be like, ‘It’s 8:30 in the morning!’ It makes Saturdays, which is of course the one day of the week you want to feel long, it makes it feel like it’s 4 days in one. It’s changed my life. I think my films have gotten better, I think I’m ultimately more productive, I’m a happier person, I’m more balanced, it’s just absolutely changed my life.” —Tiffany Shlain, digital filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards
Technology is disrupting our families: “We didn’t have these types of conversations before because we are on the computer,” says Kord Campbell, who recently participated in a digital detox hosted by Camp Grounded. He unplugs with his family on a regular basis, and says it has significantly improved his family relationships.
It’s also disrupting our business relationships: “I realized that disconnecting – as in really ‘losing myself’ – every once in a while makes me exponentially more in-tune with my work and employees. There’s a huge business benefit to truly disconnecting. It allows people to de-stress and decompress, and leads to a fresher, motivated and even more productive teams. ” —Rebecca Tann, VP of marketing at Regus USA
Unplugging improves productivity: “A writing project that had stumped me before the break suddenly appeared to have endless possibilities.” –Thurston
“It was like, oh my god, I can be so much more productive if I actually let my brain have a little downtime,” says Campbell. “When I get up in the morning I’m very sharp now. I can do things much faster. I’m much more focused. I feel much fresher. I feel like I used to feel before the Internet was popular.”
Oh, and one more lesson: “I bought a bicycle,” Thurston says. “Turns out it’s easier to ride the thing when you’re not trying to simultaneously check your Twitter.”
[Image: Flickr user Max Wolfe]