On Saturday I decided to try a little experiment. I wanted to see what it would be like to do an internet detox without, say, breaking all of my connections, switching to a dumbphone, etc. So I set some rules for myself, along with a rough admonishment to try and not use the internet as much as possible, and went for it.
It was a great fucking day.
I used the internet only a handful of times over the course of the day. A few times when I got notifications of e-mails (mostly school, but also one for a new blog comment that turned out to be spam), once for a long period to watch videos and read articles for school, and a few times to IM my boyfriend. (We would text, but we have so many old texts our SMS apps have gotten very weird.) Oh, and a few times to look at a map to either estimate travel times or make sure I wasn’t lost. But that was it. No dinking around, no trying to find solutions to Linux problems, no social media, no blogging.
It was a little hard to stick to, and I had to remind myself of my new rule a number of times. I have a lot of ingrained habits that took some breaking. Like wanting to check my social media during downtime moments. In the end, though, those habits sloughed away pretty quickly. I used my smartphone to listen to an audiobook, and as an alarm, but other than that didn’t use it that much. I selectively disabled networking on my laptop, though as long as I stayed mindful of how I was using my computer, I found I didn’t need that barrier much.
Here’s what I ended up doing instead:
- Did a bunch of homework
- Tried to fix my bike (and barely succeeded)
- Biked to the bike shop
- Got a professional to fix my bike while buying bike parts
- Biked/hiked (hills!) to the hardware store, and spending way too much money on bits and bobs for various projects (many of which are bike related)
- Read part of 1984 (It’s due back to the library Monday and I just started it aaaaaaaugh)
- Worked on learning EMACS
- Got sushi with friends
- Tried to take a nap (I basically just made myself groggy for almost an hour instead)
- Went shopping for (and failed to find) a remote light switch that didn’t cost a zillion dollars (aka $20+)
It was fun, and a good day. And I know I wouldn’t have been able to do half of it half as easily if I was busy getting distracted by the Internet all day. The big revelation, though, was how much less stressed I was, and how much better I was able to manage my anxiety. I’ve long suspected that context switching stresses me out and causes me to have more anxiety than I might otherwise have, and that fiddling with my phone and web surfing causes that sort of stress. Yesterday may not have proven it, but it certainly gave me evidence that it might be the case.
In the end, it was a fun adventure, and it gave me a good bit to think about. I also spent half the day acting like I’d been bitten by a radioactive dad, but as Peter will tell you that’s pretty par for the course for me. It makes me think maybe I should spend more time off the ‘net in the future. Now if only I could figure out a good way to keep in touch with my social media friends while I do that… Any ideas, readers?
Until next time, I hope everyone has great days, nights, and everything in-between. 🙂