Welcome to the world of digital saturation. In 2018, I can’t think of any adult who does not own a smartphone. This is for good reason. You, have instant access to financial data, children’s sports schedules, email, breaking news and most important of all, social media. Am I right? But when does it all become too much? When does having instant access equal perpetual digital consumption? For me, it started in January.
Kim is having a baby!
My news app alerted me to some breaking news. As expected, I opened the app expecting something juicy. KIM KARDASHIAN JUST HAD A BABY……WTF! Is that really news! To Kris Jenner (Kim’s mom), this would be breaking news. But to me, it was minutia.
Don’t worry, I didn’t really know what Kim’s mother’s name was off the top of my head. I had to use Google. Seriously though, I feel like all of this extra nonsense in my day is taking up precious space in my brain. Being constantly connected to the world comes at the expense of those you love in the physical world.
Prior to January my only digital addiction was news and the stock market. I would check my iPhone several times per day to see if the market was up, down or sideways. Other than that, my digital consumption was relatively low. Sure, I have a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Prior to January they were all derelict accounts, abandoned and seldom used.
Since January I have started this fine blog you are reading and my social media use has skyrocketed. Every free moment, I am checking my Twitter account. Almost twice daily I post to Instagram. I post links to all my blog posts on Facebook. I use my old iPhone 5s more now than I ever have in the past. I have to charge my phone 3-4 times per day. Does, this sound familiar.
This does not go unnoticed by my family. My wife says that I don’t really listen to what she is saying when I am looking at my phone. I tend to believe I am listening but not processing what she is telling me as quickly. My two boys ask if I am working on my blog everytime I have my laptop open. In three short months, my digital media usage altered the way my family perceives me. I have turned into a digital media monster!
Time for a digital detox
This Monday, April 23, 2018, I declare my digital detox day. From the time I wake up, until the time I go to bed, my phone will be powered off. I will not open my laptop. My wife and I have the day off together. I will devote my undivided attention to her. No texting, no phone calls not the internet. Just me being present and available to interact with my family in a way I have not in years. I will try to detoxify my digital addiction. I’m not sure it will do much more than make me miss my phone for 1 day but it will be my social experiment.
Ground rules for my social experiment were:
- My iPhone has to stay off or out of my reach.
- No computer use
- No phone calls
- No social media posts
*There was one exception I had to allow myself. I am currently in the middle of an April fitness challenge. That challenge requires I track my daily steps and calories burned. For that, I wear my iWatch. I will turn off notifications and not allow the watch to sync until after my digital detox day is over. You can read my February Plank Challenge by clicking here.
Digital Detox Day Recap
My digital detox day is over and I have to say it went well. As previously mentioned my wife and I both had the day off. Here is a log of our day sans digital devices.
I left my phone on the nightstand all morning while we split the duties of shuffling our to children off to school. I prepared the lunches while she rounded up clothes. By the way, my two boys both wear uniforms to public school, which makes dressing them for school so much easier.
After the boys were off to school. My wife and I took our morning break. We sat and drank coffee and had a light breakfast. This has always been when we would both take out our phones and begin checking social media or looking at the news for the day. But today I did not have a phone. My wife taking the queue from me, left her phone in the kitchen while we sat on the couch. We sat for 45 minutes and had real-world social interaction.
My wife and I drove to a local park with miles of wooded trails. We ran 6 miles in the filtered sun the forest canopy provided. We stopped a couple times to take pictures for Instagram. My wife wanted so badly for me to post a picture of our trail run to Instagram but I stuck to the rules. NO Instagram
We drove home, showered and decided to go out for a lunch date together before our boys came home from school. My wife loves Vietnamese Pho noodles. It just so happens that there is a lovely little place near our home that is great for a low cost, quick lunch.
Here is another situation where we would normally spend time on our phones while waiting for our lunch to be served. Today though, we were able to talk about our budget for May. Neither of us used our phones during lunch. After lunch, we headed to the local bookstore for an Americano and to browse through some books. Next, we hit up Trader Joes for some groceries for dinner.
Time to pick up the children from school. After school, the boys usually get a snack and watch tv or play a video game before starting their homework. This usually gives me an hour or so to check social media or work on a blog post, but not today.
This was the one point in the day where I was really at a loss for what to do. I mean, I knew what I should do, I just didn’t want to do what I should. Mow the lawn. Normally I would have put it off but today, I headed to the garage grabbed the mower and got to work. I spent 3 hours outside pulling weeds and mowing. Spring and the grass are an unrelenting foe.
My wife and I prepared dinner together. No music or internet usage. Just the two of us working together to put nutritious food on the dinner table that the children don’t like.
Usually, my boys are getting ready for bed during this time. This would be another time when I would surf the interwebs. Today I folded laundry and finished up the dinner dishes.
8:30 – bed
My wife and I watched a show on Netflix before bed. My wife tends to use her phone while she watches television. She calls it multitasking. She then will proceed to ask, “what just happened?” Tonight though, she sat her phone on the nightstand and together we had a lovely unproductive late evening watching Netflix.
There it is. My day of digital detox. Aside from the multiple impulses to check my phone, it was a very lovely day. These impulses seemed to be more out of habit than an actual desire to find information. Really, just fear of missing out (FOMO). Maybe somebody’s tweet was going viral or the stock market was crashing.
In reality, when I opened my computer on Tuesday morning, nothing had changed. The world was still spinning. Sure, I had missed some tweets. I had missed replying to some blog comments. But the world did not miss me.
My family on the other hand surely noticed my increased presence and social interaction. My wife even commented that I was more engaged and interactive with her than I had been in months. My activity level had shot up for the day with all the yard work and house cleaning in lieu of internet usage. I had accumulated 25,000 steps and doubled my daily active calories.
Going forward I will try to implement periods in the day where I can put down my phone, unplug and give my undivided attention to my wife and children.
Have you ever done a digital detox? Does your social media use prohibit quality time with your family? Leave a comment. Let me know I was not the only one.
Here are some of my other posts you may like:
- 2017 Investing Lessons From Warren Buffett
- Do You Save: My Formula For Family Savings Rate
- Start Your Financial Journey With These 4 Easy Wins
- March Mini Frugal Victories