Who has never tried to switch their phone or their laptop off for a day or at least for some hours, eh? I tried. Several times.
It is true, I am often on my phone and my laptop is constantly beside me. I do everything with them. I take pictures, I like pictures, I share feelings and send emails. I text friends and call my parents. I look for the closest library or market, I listen to music and set my alarm clock for tomorrow morning. I watch videos and make my homework at the same time, I learn what has just happened across the world and under my windows. I buy clothes and notebooks, I face the worst and open another tab to watch weather report.
I am not even conscious of that. How many pages do I open a day? How many times do I go on Facebook or Instagram in an hour? And I don’t speak of all of us who use their phone to time their runs instead of running as long as they enjoy it; all of us who watch television and go web surfing at the same time; all of us who can’t wait to answer a text whereas they are talking face-to-face with someone else.
It may sound paradoxical, but I love technology. I am 19, I was born with it and I don’t know how I would live without it. But yes, sometimes, I need to switch everything off and concentrate on what is really important. I need to have little moments for my own self and my own peace. How many times did I get a headache because of hours spent in front of my laptop? How many times did I get angry or exasperated because of something I read from somebody I didn’t know? Technology runs off my body’s energy. I have become another battery and sleep is not enough to refresh.
So last weekend was the weekend. A new attempt after several “not so bad” tries but also “not totally respected” tries*.
*we all know that little voice that tells you it is okay to check your emails for five minutes and you end up two hours later watching a video of baby cats. And don’t fool with me, I know I am not the only one.
From Friday night to Saturday night, I turned off my phone and laptop. I chose that moment responding to Grok Nation and Shabbat, and because I prefer being at peace during weekends. I must say that I am not Jewish, not even religious, but it helped me to appreciate my “struggle” better — crazy, right? It has often been easier for me to follow something that does not only rest on my own resolution, something that is respected by many others too. It makes me want to do it until the end without thinking “nobody will know if you stop now, it was your idea”. It is like doing sport with a friend: you train even if you don’t want to because you know there is someone to cheer you up and you don’t want to give up on them. Moreover, as digital detox is not something I am used to doing, I wanted to have a goal and advice, to be a bit reassured, and I know several grokites were in the same state of mind.
It is weird to use the word “reassure” about turning off electronic devices. I was afraid to switch them off because it was like getting rid of my personal life, being deprived of something. Most of all, I knew I would receive a lot of notifications during that period and I was hoping nothing important would come over — nothing happened, fortunately. I missed likes and comments on Instagram and WordPress, I missed messages and emails, but nothing that could not wait. I put my phone on my bedside table around 8pm and enjoyed three hours of reading. I slept like a baby, woke up less stressed than the day before. I still wanted to take my phone and send lovely messages to people I missed, but I realized I was missing them beause I was doing nothing — you truly miss someone when you are occupied, when you want to share that moment with them, when you can’t concentrate on what you are doing, not when you are bored.
During those 25 hours or so, I read again and again. I finished a novel and read Judaism for Dummies — yes, I am still reading it as it is a bit complicated when you are not religious. I also made a list of what I wanted to check on the Internet later and guess what? Those things could wait. I did not do much more but it was enough to relax and escape from negativity. What I loved the most was to wake up gently and read a paper book, not assaulted by a powerful light and music, nor disturbed by the absence* or presence of notifications I missed during the night.
*I even think the lack of notifications is more stressful and disappointing because I interpret it as a lack of attention and love.
I think my experience can be called “my real and successful first digital detox”. I have some plans now. I plan to turn off my electronic devices around 9pm every day so that I can sleep peacefully and more easily, enjoying a good book. I also plan other digital detox days, either from Friday to Saturday, or Saturday to Sunday. It will be a bit tough because university requires the Internet but I just need to organize myself. I don’t want to neglect my body and my soul anymore, it is too painful. Bye bye, tiredness!
Marion Ps. Shana Tova!