Reflections on a Digital Detox

The Great and Frustrating Feeling of Being Completely and Utterly Disconnected

Posted by Patrick Wee on September 12, 2016

11:20 am

So the day has come. Today marks the day that I embark on a digital detox. That means today, I won't be using any electronic devices. As in 0.

Already, I can geel the pangs of FOMO [Fear of Missing Out]. I was going to head out with a few friends to Dubau, but last night, I had to message them saying I wouldn't come.

Even figuring out the time is hard. I've had the urge of hitting the home button on my phone to figure out the time. then, I realized I couldn't and looked for my watch instead.

To lessen any temptation, I'm going to leave my phone and laptop in my dorm room as I go about my daily tasts. This will keep me from getting distracted.

But the hardships are real. I've started to realize how hard it is for people without knowledge of computers to function especially in a university like ours. Case in point: I wanted to plan out my GRE prep, with the academic calendar in mind, but what did I realize? Yup, no physical academic calendar is to be found, and lo and behold-- I have no access to the calendar.

What's interesting is that this sort of information nowadays serves as both a barries and an opportunity. It's a barrier to the million so fpeople who do not have access to them, yet also an opportunity to those who have.

In fact, I would agree that it would be [almost] impossible in a life without technology. It simply isn't possible to function at our levels of productivity without it. In fact, I'm now keeping a list of things I need to do when I get back on the net tomorrow. It seems difficult, but I'll get through!

P.S.--Also, no music for me!

4:40 pm

It's been a few hours since I've been awake, and it's so interesting how I haven't actually studied. I've been wanting to do that over the weekend, but I haven't. I guess that's one of the downsides of not having technology, I just can't do my homework.

Specifically, I have a WebAssign homework for Linear Algebra class that works online. Literally, the whole Math homework is online. Hence, now I can't do that homework. My computer security homework is also online. Hence, I casn't do that either. Not being online is terrible, as honestly, a lot of my education has gone online.

Similarly, its been so hard to live life without technology. I've just wanted to take a nap right now, but realized I couldn't do so. I wouldn't have an alarm to wake me up, lest I sleep through the afternoon.

In a certain way though, I think I'm liking this disconnection. I like that I have my own time, that my time is my own, and that no one can demand a response from me unless I give it. I feel that contrary to popular belief that being connected means more freedom--work from home, etc., in fact, being connected restrains me more than ever. I t requires me to keep my mind half-ready for that next message, next ding from Messenger, or next phone call. Being disconnected allows me to see beyond and know who I really interact with in the real world, and see how I could further develop those and other relationships. In a sense, it helps you become a "real" person.

I honestly like this being disconnected thing. It clears my mind more than I can ever imagine, and helps me to see what is really important.

This disconnection is both paralyzing and enabling. Sometimes, I think the paralyzing helps the enabling--the fact that you can't connect, helps you to concentrate more on what is important.

You know what, maybe, I should consider getting those non-smartphone phones. (See, they're so uncommon I don't even know what non-smartphone phones are called!)

So yes, I am super excited about this. Maybe, just maybe, I should do this even longer.

8:40 pm

Almost done with the day, and the temption is just growing even more. I just really want to open my phone and message people.

Two thoughts I have though are:

  • I had to meet with someone for an event, and it was just impossible to plan. While previously, I could just message the person if I was going to be late, now that's not possible. I just had to be there on time.
  • It's very lonely without technology. I can't just message someone and go say: "Hey, are you busy?" That's not possible no more. Whereas previoysly, I could have chosen to message someone, now I can't. :(

I guess people back then must have found a way to communicate even without technology! But the feedback time would have been terrible. Imagine! For snail mail, it could have taken weeks and days. For telegraphs, hours and minutes. And now for IM's, minutes and seconds. What a difference!

One of the things I find fascinating though is how more anxious I am getting without technology. The FOMO is real, and it's killing me!

10:20 pm

The day is about to come to a close. I know people are hanging out, having parties, but without Messenger, I wouldb't really know what's happenning today--which parties are happenening and where they are happenning.

The good side about that is that I feel that I have ample time myself. I was able to generally fix my table, my room and the common area of my apartment. On the side, I even did a little bit of FRE prepping. I think it is quite rewarding to be disconnected on so many levels.

I've also started to feel the tremors from the construction site across the campus more for some weird reason--maybe that's because I've had less instances to feel and hear these tremors when I've had my earphones on.

I've also thought of skyping and calling home, but then I realized that no, I can't do that. So, I'm all the more excited to talk to my family tomorrow.

I think that I'm also more mindful of the technology that I use and how long and what I use it for. I realize how much time I actually waste on it, and how much better life would be without them--how much more I might be able to concentrate.

In a certain sense though, I almost feel that technology and being always connected is a necessary evil. You just can't function in a high-paced environment without it. On a sidenote, I wanted to check what the exact prompt was for these responses, but I realiuze that I can't actually check. Oh well.

In terms of my technology use, I hope I can curb it in a few ways:

  • Lessen vibrates on my phone. They can usually wait. My life can't.
  • Limit usage by doing detox days. This would be a day where I would just remove myself from technology.

These are the two ideas I have for now. I'll update them tomorrow as I write a post-script. I want to be able to write that down on a computer in my blog and see how my respoinses have differed. (Do I still feel the same way when I have computer access already?)

It's honestly been such a great experience detox-ing. I feel less anxious right now than before. I feel much more able to believe that I can live in a life without technology and can now better imagine how life back then (the better days, in some cases) might have been.

Super thankful for the experience, yet also super excited for tomorrow. Here is PWee signing off for my last detox blog as I'm going to sleep.

P.S.-- I was eventually able to take a nao ysing my body clocky by being super careful about sleeping. i.e., keeping the blinds up and the lights on--woke up just about the right time!