I first learned how to type on a keyboard in Elementary school. We had computer class in which we saved our projects on floppy disks, played Oregon Trail, and learned to type with a black rubber mat over the keys so that even if we looked down, we couldn’t see the letters. I waited for the dial-up to finish its screeching before I could log on to my AIM account to message all my friends that I had just been with at school for hours.
These days seem so quaint now. A lot simpler. Which is really a weird notion since advancing technology is only supposed to make our lives easier, not harder.
We’re supposed to be able to connect with each other more, stay in touch long past our school days are over. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of ways that technology improves our lives. Especially when it comes to the medical field or law enforcement. However, I do think that technology giveth and it taketh away. We take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.
I can’t imagine going through middle school under the harsh light and comparisons that social media brings. Even as an adult, people who are strangers and friends alike send texts or DMs with words that they would never say to each other’s faces. We’re living in a world that is constantly moving more and more towards desensitizing ourselves to each other, to humanity.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
Have you ever been in a room with friends where you all worked it out so your schedules could line up so you could watch the movie or play the game or have the dinner and more people are on their phones than not?
I try very hard to be conscious specifically of my phone usage but also my technology use overall. When I’m by myself, I am usually watching TV while scrolling on my phone or playing a game. When I’m eating a meal with someone, I always turn my phone face down if it’s not in my bag entirely. It’s also always on vibrate whether I’m out or at home. I even have a *gasp* landline. 26 years old with a landline. Not very Millennial of me. It’s apparently quite shocking. But I do this so I can set my cell phone down, pick up a book, learn a new skill, whatever and the people who really need to get ahold of me, still can.
Needless to say, I know that I have room for improvement when it comes to how heavily I rely on technology and looking at the world around me, I would say that’s true of anyone.
A couple weeks ago, my preacher concluded a series at church called On Demand. I’ll link the sermons here if you want to give them a listen.
In the last installment, he gave us a technology detox. One that I followed all of the rules for a week and found it really helpful and necessary. Some of the rules have now been implemented permenantly and some of them I’ll use occasionally for a detox. Thus,
9 Steps for a Digital Detox:
1. Disable All Social Media Notifications
My experience with this steps was interesting to me. I drastically reduced the time I spent on social media the week that I followed all these rules. I wasn’t glued to my phone and often forgot about Instagram or Twitter altogether. The notifications “notify” us but they also remind us to go back to our accounts and check out the activity.
2. Don’t Use Your Phone in the Bathroom
As my pastor put it, “this is just gross”. Not wrong, not wrong.
3. Disable E-mail Notifications
Similarly to turning off my social media, I forgot to check my e-mail. What I did instead was check it in the morning and again around 5 pm M-F like a normal person. No one is e-mailing me 5 times a day which is how often I would click on the g-mail app when the notification popped up.
4. Use One Commute to be in Silence
This one was hard for me. Talking to my mom, listening to music, or catching up on Podcasts is what this sacred time is used for. But during my one commute of silence, I was able to think what I wanted or feel how I wanted. When we listen to music or podcasts or even talk to people, the tempo or thoughts of someone else is directly affecting the energy you’re feeling. There’s a reason that hearing a song about girl power makes you feel empowered as a woman or hearing an inspiring podcast makes you feel *bingo* inspired. But having that commute in silence, I wasn’t just constantly consuming media or energy. I was just feeling how I felt in whatever state that was. It was a good chance to check in and assess.
5. Don’t Keep Your Phone in Your Bedroom at Night
Another toughy for me. I use my phone as an alarm. I also dump my thoughts into the notes app. Which I know is severely breaking the rule below but it’s part of my night time routine to tuck any last minute to-dos or thoughts into the app. So I compromised after the week of following these rules. What I do now is I turn my phone on airplane mode when I got to bed. It allows me to use my notes app, set my alarm, and play a game if I need some wind-down time. It also deflects any calls or texts from people who are on a different schedule. Genius.
6. Turn Screens Off Before Bed
I break this one. I’m sorry, I just do. I know that everyone says that’s what you need to do. I try not to be on my laptop before bed but I definitely watch tv and play games on my phone to wind down. It’s just my bedtime routine. For my laptop, in the rare occasions I’m on it, and for my phone, they both have blue light filters that turn on after sundown. My glasses have a blue light filter anyway but the filter really helps combat some of the reasons that people say to turn these off.
7. Don’t Use Phones in Team Meetings
It’s only polite and respectful. Being on a phone in a meeting is rude and shows you’re uninterested in what the meeting is about. I’m sure there are exceptions. I can’t think of any though.
8. Don’t Use Your Phone While Having a Meal with Someone
No phones=better conversation and better relationships. That simple.
9. Wake up Unplugged
This step radically changed my perspective and I’m so thankful it did. Like many people, I wake up and the first thing I did was “go for a scroll”. What notifications did I have? Did people post? Anything new on Stories? Did people comment on the last picture I posted? For a long time, it’s been my way of waking up more then it is about me caring about these things at 8 am. But my pastor challenged us to not check our social media until we had spent quiet time with God.
As someone who does quiet time every morning, this hadn’t occurred to me but by checking my social media first, I was being validated by others and their likes rather than God.
I realized in implementing this step in my everyday life that some days, I would be in a bad mood because of my social media before my feet had even touched the ground. But by keeping my phone in airplane mode until I did quiet time, I let my mind and soul feel how it was going to that day without influence. Then I would spend time in the Word and that would be the actual start of my day. I really don’t feel like I’m exaggerating when I say that this step alone has changed my every day and it has made a huge difference.
OK! That’s it. 9 steps for a digital detox. Use these steps to either detox for a week or implement a few permanently for a more balanced life.
I’ve made a quick reference sheet for you below. Let me know if you try any of these or have any detox tricks you use down in the comments below.
Here is the entire digital series: “On Demand” from Radius LA, Pastor Joseph Barkley
For the service we were given these 9 detox steps, click on “On Demand: Digital Detox” on the page linked above.