Digital marketer on the benefits of a digital detox
Working in digital marketing, it's not easy to admit that I sometimes get overwhelmed with all the digital stuff, and I feel that I don’t have enough hours in my day. Which is odd, as I'm sure I was much busier years ago combining work with raising a child, and still finding time to socialize with friends and family, go running or go to the gym and what not. The difference is that we didn’t have the internet, mobile devices, Netflix, Instagram and all that, guzzling up our time. And it seems like since the COVID pandemic is around, we are more digital than ever, at home and at work. Use of entertainment, chat and streaming services surged in the pandemic by up to 30% on some platforms. I have not had a face-to-face team meeting for almost 3 years!
I also show some signs of a device addiction; FOMO, disrupted sleep, concentration problems, and checking the news and social media a couple of times per hour. I guess this sounds familiar to a lot of people. Although some people, for example Millenials, might not see the problem, as they have not known a mostly analog life.
Every now and then I find myself longing for the 'good old days' when I had more time. Being a Gen Xer, I have lived those days when people read books and magazines on public transportation, or looked outside instead of staring at their phones. The days when there weren't hundreds of TV channels available 24/7, no Facebook or Tik Tok, no influencers (with all due respect, is that really a job?), no people taking selfies or filming anytime and anyplace, no likes, and no zillions of advertisements for stuff that companies made me think I want. Nobody expected me to reply instantly to emails or Whatsapp messages. There was no social media pressure. And more important: no sleepless nights from reading the news or social media on my phone in bed.
Let me make this clear: I see the advantages that digital has brought, both for work and private life. I mean, digital banking is great, and so is parking with an app. I love Spotify and Netflix. And how did I ever get anywhere before Google Maps? However there must be a way to filter out the negative stuff and have a healthy relationship with digital. I need a digital detox.
Well, it turns out there are more than enough ways to do that. I started by deleting some apps from my phone and turning off the sound while I work or when I don’t want to be available. I also switched off push messages and sound from most apps on my phone.
Letting family and friends know that you are doing a digital detox can help, so they will be aware and can support you. So can finding other things to do like getting out of the house, going for a walk or having meals with family or friends.
Practice self-discipline and resist the habit of picking up the phone all the time. It can wait. Ironically there is even an app named 'Focus' that can help to cut down on digital activities and distractions.
There are many ways to digital detox, and everyone should find what works best for them. The most radical is a 'digital fast', where you give up all digital devices for a short time, from an hour, a day or up to a week. You can also schedule a recurrent digital abstinence where you pick one day of the week to go device-free. Or do a specific detox of a digital activity that you spend too much time on. It could even be a social-media detox.
The average US adult spends 11 hours a day listening to, watching, reading, or interacting with media. I’m not sure if this includes work and if the activities overlap but imagine the things you could do in 11 hours.
In addition, research suggests that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day can significantly improve well-being, decreasing symptoms of loneliness and depression.
So after the Dry January, why not try Digital Detoxing the rest of the year?