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100 days of 'Create Not Consume'

24 Hour digital detox

“Detoxes” are trendy, commonly associated with diets or some form of cleanse. Whether it’s purging your body from alcohol or fatty foods, the misconceived notion is that it will return your body to the zen like state it was once in as a teenager. It’s a short term intervention put in place because you feel like crap. So what’s the next logical trendy step when you want a short term fix for your unhealthy digital media consumption?

My screen time is at an all time high. Being locked down has meant lots of watching videos, listening to music, writing, social media, zooming, working from home and looking up music for guitar. About 85% of what I do when i’m awake is on a screen. I feel as if I don’t have many notifications interrupting me but I know this is my own bias justifying. My attention span has become horrific in the past 10 years, one possible reason being time spent getting instant gratification on the internet (age being another possible factor).

If you’re allowing yourself to get interrupted five times in a half an hour, you’re never actually focused in that time

– Jesse Fox, PhD, head of Ohio State University’s Virtual Environment, Communication Technology, and Online Research (VECTOR) Lab.

I’ve been fairly aware of this for a few years and i’ve tried different measures to combat it. Deleting apps, time restrictions, using apps to limit time ON apps, making time to go outside but old habits die hard. I always come crawling back, like some sort of manipulative ex.

My relationship with digital devices has definitely changed for the better as a result of these experiments but in other ways I’m still lying to myself. I think i’m not that bad because I know people who have more severe addictive tendencies. I don’t use my phone whilst i’m talking to people and try not to use two devices at once (but still use apps simultaneously on one device). Due to this massive list of contradictions in how I think and how I act, I’ve been led to this point.

A 24 hour digital detox. 00:00 Friday September 25th – 00:00 Saturday September 26th. Easy!(?)

What are the rules?

  • Phone / Laptop / Tablet off from midnight (must remain off for the duration).
  • Cannot piggy back watching a video from a friends device.
  • No TV / Radio with a streaming service attached such as Netflix.
  • Keep regular sleeping pattern (no naps or sleeping-in to escape).

*I’m using a digital clock but I swear it has no entertaining functions apart from 24hr time.

Why?

The purpose of this is to be removed from the never ending conveyor belt of choice, reduce the fear of missing out on social engagement or 15 browser tabs open never to be viewed. More importantly, it’s making the choice to do this. Stuck in the outback with no phone reception? You have to make do without your phone, it’s not the same. There is no reward at the end of this, no carrot on a stick.

Just like a juice cleanse, I don’t expect this 24 hour detox to fix me but I do believe it will give me some perspective. In an ideal world, it will help me to re-evaluate my relationship with digital by extreme contrast. Plus the worst case scenario is that I return to my normal habit and miss one day of binging trash. There is nothing to lose.

Preparation.

  • Contacted those who i’m in regular contact with about what’s going on in case of emergency.
  • Chose a day where I have no digital engagements.
  • Entertainment for the day will be purely books, cooking, exercise, meditation, writing on paper, talking with people in the flesh and playing guitar.
  • I’m going to avoid TV (even analogue).
  • I have an old iPod limited to 5 albums. (Currently deciding if this is cheating or not, will make a decision before midnight).
  • As i’m also doing this create not consume challenge for 100 days, I will write a post tonight and schedule it to post automatically tomorrow.
  • Plan a running route ahead of time.

These preparations will prevent me from making any justifications for using a device.

Expectations

I’m genuinely expecting this to be a pretty boring day. Difficult in terms of fighting said boredom and becoming acutely aware of how many hours are in a day. I’m also under no illusions that this is a ‘challenge’ in the true sense of the word but curious to explore the possible benefits of the practice. Let’s see.