My story is a story similar to many of yours. I work a job requiring me to use a computer most of the day. I have additional hobbies that require being online. I also deal with a decent array of social media networks that keep me pretty glued to technology throughout the week. But perhaps a bit different from some of you, I specifically set aside a day at least once a month to unplug. I call it my no phone day or ‘no tech day’… and it’s awesome.
I was at the technologically awkward age in my youth. Around the time when the Motorola flip phones were finally giving way to the first “smart” phones (which looking back weren’t that intelligent after all). Growing up, I was glued to technology. Ever since I was about 10-12 I had my own desktop PC running a version of Windows that younger adults would have never heard of. As I got older, I would play video games on my console, watch TV on my Apple products or bedroom set, and listen to PewDiePie and other rising stars through YouTube on my phone.
Even now, it’s impossible to escape. I work a regular 10 hr / 4 day shift requiring the use of a computer about 80% of that time. Then I own this website, The Hidden Dominion, which adds some writing and coding to my overall screen time. Couple on a book I’ve been writing and binge watching the new Disney+ with my girlfriend and it seems like the numbers just keep adding up. Now that I’m getting older it is harder to find things to do without the help of Facebook events, friends on social media, and other online avenues. Technology has certainly made life easier in some respects. But has taken over our lives in others.
There was one specific day, maybe two years ago, where I had noticed such increased stress from the social media and internet usage that I had grown accustomed too. I remember looking up some information about it and being astonished about all the negative effects that social media has on us as humans. I set out to accomplish a daring task that same day: I wanted to spend one whole day without social media (the old school doggy meme would suit here well: wow so brave).
But that one day did have a profound effect on my future. I noticed how much free time I had without social media. I noticed how much I could do, all the things I could catch up on, the introspection I could incur. I did fill a lot of the time that day with other technological uses but it had its purpose. It had the impact it needed.
After that day, I realized the potential of a “national unplugging” day. I noticed how helpful it could be to have a full “no phone day” or just a full no technology at all day. I slowly changed my strategy. Instead of no social media, it was no social media and no phone. Then it was no social media, no phone, and no video games. Then I tossed in TV. Then I decided why not try for no technology at all for a whole 24 hours?
Now I do it religiously. Sadly, life gets in the way as it does with most things. Some months I have an unplugged day every week. Other months I don’t get a day off at all. But I aim for at least one or two a month as a “detox” from the stress, anxiety, and general captivating addiction that the technology causes us.
Think about it in your own life. What would you do with a full day of your life unplugged? No phone. No TV. Rule out the computer, internet, and social media’s too. No modern tech. Just you, your thoughts, your loved ones, and whatever the hell you want to do.
It seems as the weeks, months, and years go by I always find a reason why I just can’t read that book, paint that canvas, or practice my aim at the range. There’s always an excuse or some reason I have to be busy. This one day there are no excuses left. The seething boredom and general relaxation take over enough to make all of my favorite hobbies seem so much more enjoyable again. The peaceful serenity of the national unplugging day permeates through the entire next week, leaving me refreshed and content. It’s just a bonus I get to spend more time on my hobbies or with my significant other.
And really, we need this right now with our current generations. Now more than ever we are so ingrained in our internet presence that we ignore the beauty and adventure around us. When you no longer have the technology to give you that constant dopamine rush, you return to that state where humans are at their peak. Instead of more vanity and degeneracy that bleeds us dry while making us feel worthless, we can reconnect with others.
This dependency on technology is a growing epidemic. We see similar trends nearly everywhere: heightened stress, anxiety, and disconnection with the real world. Technology has come into our laps so rapid and so ferociously that we have accepted it without reservation for any setbacks it may have. We, as a species, need to take back our humanity and place technology firmly under our control. Instead of becoming a casualty of it.
I talk about a lot of random lifestyle topics on this website like intermittent fasting, weight loss, and even obstacle races. This is not different. Unplugging becomes a sort of a “lifestyle”. A lifestyle where you anticipate and look forward to the day where you get to just be free from everything for a little bit. The stress that engulfs and destroys so many of us is removed simply by hitting the power button.
So wherever you are in life, give an unplugging day a try. You don’t have to start out with a hands-off all technology. Just turn off the phone. See how you feel, everything you accomplish, the introspection that occurs, and all the revitalization of your hobbies. Once you truly give it a go and see the benefits, you’ll probably start going down the rabbit hole like I did and make this a lifestyle choice.
Social media and technological addiction have been dragging us down for so long. It warps your mind, your feelings, and your free time to suit the dopamine-hit-reup cycle. Take a single day off. See the benefits. You won’t regret it.
Also, pay attention to March 6th, 2020. That’s the national day of unplugging (yes, us unpluggers have a national day now). I encourage at least one day a month but if you can’t hit that goal, at least plan for March 6th. See you then (or not… my phone will be off).