The pressure to stay connected is throwing our exalted work/life balance for a whirl. Microsoft advertises its Office 365 suite with the tagline “work anywhere, anytime, on any device.” Is that good thing? Virtual reality started as recreational and utilitarian but grew into a digital leash we cannot take off, and every notification is a tug away from the non-digital parts of our lives.
Digital Detox Industry Is An Oxymoron
The pressure to connect is so conventional now that the negative effects sprouted a digital detox industry. Digital-free getaways force everyone to leave their tech at the check-in desk. It’s hard to say whether a digital detox holiday will help people rediscover a healthy balance between their digital and non-digital.
The people who sign up for these holidays have presumably recognized there is a problem. They sought out the retreat for reprieve. But that doesn’t solve the problem at home. As soon as they reconnect, the benefits of the retreat will likely dissipate under a deluge of notifications and digital demands. If the retreat offers classes or seminars with takeaways, then there is a greater chance of long-term success. But the digital detox industry thrives on our addiction. Why would they seek to undo it?
Going Beyond The Digital Detox Industry
Some have realized the ineffectiveness of a digital detox holiday (or just day) and taken things a step farther. In a search for the root of the problem, Native American vision quests increased in popularity. A typical Native American vision quest involves you sitting alone inside a 10-foot, circular sacred space for 2-4 days—possibly under the influence of hallucinogens—with the supervision of an experienced and benevolent shaman. The goal is to dig deep into the core of your being in search of answers to age-old questions.
Digital detox holidays and vision quests are subjects of debate. Personally, why not simply plan a vacation and agree to leave behind digital technology? Put on a backpack and go for a walk outside without your phone, tablet, computer, or otherwise.
I believe that exercising one’s will with a conscious decision unceremoniously adorned by digital detox parties or a well-meaning shaman has enduring benefits.
And don’t get me wrong. I think we need this.
We Only Have So Much Energy, And Digital Drains Us
I think we need to learn how to digital detox. There is so much going on in the world that we are aware of yet insensible to because of the demands and distractions of digital technology.
The reality is that we only have so much attention and so much energy. If we allow digital technology to consume what remains after our reservoirs have been drained by work, how will we have the energy to be with our children, or to think about the threats that face us as a society?
If we never truly switch off, we shouldn’t be surprised when we return from a vacation feeling dissatisfied and uninspired. The looming burden of work/life imbalance is stressful and exhausting.
Each of Us Must Champion Our Own Digital Detox
The digital detox must begin forcibly in our day-to-day. We should make a habit of disconnecting at some point to retain a semblance of our non-digital selves. This is so important to our connection with the people and events that surround us.
The digital world is tailor-made to keep us absorbed, and there is a reason. It is designed to tire us until we are too habituated to resist buying, resist responding, resist using, and just resist.