I spend the last week of April and most of May on a digital detox. I deleted all of my social media apps from my phone, disabled notifications, and adopted a paper notebook for most of my work outside of communication and writing this blog.
I made the decision to go on the detox because I could see I was trending towards very passive and consumptive online behavior. I was consuming more content than I was creating. I felt like I was losing my mental edge, and I couldn’t stand the feeling.
I really enjoyed. I liked the clarity I found and the space to think. I regained some of the mental sharpness I felt I had lost. Changing the way I worked and eliminating most of my entertainment sources was refreshing.
In the end, I decided to install my social media apps and turn on notifications for some of the apps on my phone. This is why.
The argument to delete social media and reduce technology use is because all of the information and stimuli we experience on a daily basis is bad for our brains and happiness. It’s a relentless stream of opinions and comparisons. The Jones’s are no longer next door, they are in every stream of every app in your pocket.
I get it, but the problem is not the tech itself. It’s me and you, and every person who falls for that way of thinking. Comparison only affects those who compare themselves to others. Distraction only affects people who lack intentionality.
Smartphones are not going away. They are going to get more powerful. Constant connectedness will increase. This is the way humans will engage with each other, and just because we don’t like it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. Instead of avoiding it altogether, it’s more important to be intentional about the way we use it which only comes through self-reflection and making adjustments.
This is no different than exercise, food, education, relationships, etc. You can either engage your life and your behavior with intentionality or you can just take what comes your way. If you are a passive participant of your life one of these areas, you will be more likely to be passive and participant in the other areas. Avoiding this problem perpetuates it.
I love technology. I love the internet. I love social media. If it was not for these things, I many not have the career I enjoy, the friends I have made, and the education I have received.
But I have learned that shutting that stuff off for blocks of time during the day so I can get work, think deeply to create a solution for something at work, or have a face-to-face conversation with someone brings a great return.
My life is fundamentally better because of technology, social media, and the unbelievable amount of free information available online. The reason I consumed too much is because I stopped being intentional about my time, my focus, and stopped thinking about what I want out of life.
I am leaning in, all the way in, but with my goals and ambitions in mind.