Three Lessons from My Digital Detox

I vividly remember life before the rise of the Internet. In many ways, the digital world we now inhabit came of age at the same time I did. Experiencing the effects of digital technology and how it has, for better or worse, changed how we interact with one another has been remarkable.

When I first logged into Facebook, I easily succumbed to the digital delights of social media. Over time, I also experienced my share of social media nightmares with real world effects. It was after a series of frustrating experiences coupled with my growing disenchantment with digital life that I decided I would detach and detox from social media for 30 days.

Here’s what I learned:

You must delete social media apps.
I opted to not permanently delete any of my accounts or profiles, but I let them go dormant. It’s far too easy to click on an app out of reflex or in a moment of boredom, so I removed the apps from my phone. It’s not nearly as easy to access social media when you have to download the app and log in each time.

You’ll notice that a lot of people spend a lot time staring at their digital devices when you’re not staring at yours.
Our addiction to our digital devices is pervasive. When you’re not on your phone you’ll notice people everywhere more engaged digitally than they are with the world around them. I can’t be sure how many of the digitally transfixed people I observed during my detox were on social media, but the level of disengagement from the real world is surprising.

You won’t lose touch with people who matter.
I was a concerned that my digital detox would alienate me from the people I care about. But a few days into my detox, I realized that I already communicate directly with those that matter most — my family and close friends.

Forcing myself to detach and detox from social media helped me understand my digital habits. Since my digital detox, I’ve resumed using social media, but a lot less frequently. The time away from digital life made me realize that we live in a noisy world filled with aimless digital distractions competing for that attention but my attention is limited and precious. Awareness of the amount of time and attention we lend to the pixels of our digital lives is the first step in managing it.