30 days later.
After making the decision to embark on a digital detox throughout August, I’ve come out the other side. And I’m still alive. Here you’ll read about my final experiences, discover whether my experiment was a success, and whether or not it was worth it.
Deleting my social apps in the hope that I would spend a little less time on my device was prompted by the release of Ofcom’s annual communication market report, which assess the state of the digital nation. The report found that 1 in 3 people are choosing to have a digital detox and 6 in 10 people describe themselves as ‘hooked’ on their devices.
The summer months bring with them wedding season, which means my detox coincided with the exact point that my timeline would’ve been flooded with bride-and-groom shots complete with wedding hashtag. In fact, it was a friend’s wedding that made me realise how much harder it was to stay off social media than I expected – weddings are so insta-friendly they would’ve made sweet content for my profile! Still, I took picture after picture – just because I’m not Instagramming, doesn’t mean I’m not going to get snap-happy! – but I missed the most important shot: The bride in all her glory. My family, who were understandably eager to see this one picture, thought nothing of it and headed over to Facebook before checking the relevant hashtag on Instagram… maybe I’ll add mine retrospectively.
Conclusion: No Mo’ FOMO
Fairly early on into the experiment (1 hour in) I found myself on autopilot – pick up phone > enter pin > open instragram > open facebook. But wait! Those apps were no longer there. I must have done this a dozen or so times over the next 24 hours of my detox. My first splendid truth: I was well and truly addicted to my phone. It dawned on me that the coming month was going to be harder than I had originally thought and more important than I had originally thought.
Conclusion: This wasn’t a digital detox, but a digital rehab
Halfway through the experiment I wrote about my experiences so far including people’s initial reactions toward my choice to switch off for the summer. To recap, friends and family were positively mortified that I was going to embark on such a quest. ‘Why?!’ but more often ‘How?!’ was I going to cope. Interestingly I found attitudes changing as time went on. I was a constant reminder to them about the crisis they/we all face with our devices. Time and time again I found myself saying “sorry I can’t watch that really funny video because…” or anictondalty when a friend said “Did you see how many likes my photo has got…?!”I didn’t respond. The look I gave him said it all. Sheepishly my friend admitted that he wished he could give it all up; social media, social pressure and his device.
Conclusion: Stop saying “I Wish”. Start saying “I Will”
I didn’t set out a goal for my digital detox, so it’s hard to say whether it was a success or failure. But was it worth it? Absolutely. I would even go as far to say that it changed my life. I feel better (if not slightly smug) about myself without daily social pressures leaving me feeling inadequate. I spent rarely any time on my device at all. I feel liberated and happier. I would highly recommend a digital detox to anyone and everyone whatever the time of year or reason for doing so. Even if it’s for a day, week, month or year, it’s well worth the short, sharp shock back to reality to live a life beyond the screen.
Including mobile in your digital strategy should remain as important as ever. The existence of the ‘digital detox’ shouldn’t encourage businesses to follow suit. In fact the opposite. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes and take the time to review your digital activity. Is it too much? Or too little? Personally, I’m definitely more enthusiastic to engage online with businesses that release content on a quality not quantity basis.