I recently went on my first ever camping trip. Just in case that wasn’t shocking enough in itself, I committed to spending it phone free.
My nearest and dearest gasped at the news and I can’t really blame them – I have a bit of a reputation for being glued to my phone which isn’t something I’m proud of. A field in the middle of the northern countryside seemed like too good an opportunity for a digital detox to pass up though so digital detox I did, and I have to say it was pretty enlightening.
These are the lessons I learnt.
I can spend 48 hours without a phone
This might sound slightly ridiculous but I’m honestly surprised I made it through 48 hours without my phone. I’m unhealthily addicted and it’s something that’ been bothering me for a while – hence the detox. The most surprising thing of all was that I didn’t actively miss my phone at all. Not even a little bit. Who’d have thought it?
Why my screen time is so high
The second thing I learnt was about my relationship with my phone. I read something a while back that prompted me to question why it is I pick up my phone when I feel the need to and taking a step back gave me the opportunity to really think about that. There are apps I consciously enjoy but I realised a strong 60-70% of my pickups can be attributed to boredom or anxiety. That’s far too many if you ask me and I’m hoping being aware of that is a positive step forward.
I should invest in a camera
Except for Instagram which I’m pretty sure accounts for the majority of most people’s screen time, the only thing I actively missed was my camera and being able to take photos. Instead, I took a real camera which did a much better job than my phone would have. Despite being a lot heftier to carry around, I really enjoyed taking photos the old-fashioned way. If buying one of my own minimises my screen time long term then I’m all in.
Not everything needs documenting
While I loved taking those photos, I also came to the realisation that I don’t need to document half as much as I do. Do I need to share every meal I make and every view I come across? Probably not. I’m also pretty sure the next person I make pause before they tuck into their food so I can take a photo is going to disown me.
It’s definitely nice to have memories and I’ll always enjoy taking photos for that reason. I could definitely cut back on them if I really think about when and why I’m doing it though.
I’m not present enough
Perhaps the most disturbing revelation of the weekend was just how distant my phone makes me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already somewhat aware of this but this trip really hammered it home. Whether I’m absent-mindedly listening to a conversation while replying to a text or scrolling Instagram while on the phone to the internet provider, I’m almost always paying less attention to things than I should be because I can’t put my phone down. That’s not something I like about myself and I’m hoping I can change that.
I need to do it more often!
More than anything else, I realised that I need to go phone-less far more often. As cheesy as it sounds, it really was a liberating experience. I’m convinced I got more out of our little camping trip than I would have if I was glued to my screen. Hikes and lake views make for great distractions but it’s something I plan to experiment with at home as well as on weekends away. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Have you done a digital detox before? How did it go?
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