We live in such a connected world these days. I’m old enough to remember that when I wanted to go online, it meant that I had to head off to a cybercafe (which was literally a cafe serving coffee, with computers connected to the internet, not the seedy joints with zombie gamers/punters) and hand over a sackful of cash for 15 precious minutes on the internet where I first had to listen to the squealing of the modem as it made its attempts to establish a connection.
These days, we all have mobile data on our phones which are essentially mini computers, free wifi in most places, and high-speed broadband at home. Well, relatively speaking. It’ll be unthinkable not to, and a disaster to check in to a hotel to discover there’s no free wifi. What?! (Well, most do these days – it’ll be suicide not to provide it! 😀 )
But do you ever feel like there’s just too much going on online, that leaves you, the consumer, feeling overwhelmed? Yes? No? Just me? 😛
I get that way now and again. I consume a lot of information online that isn’t necessarily related to just beauty and blogging, but news and other things as well and that can lead to information overload. Email used to demand quick responses, and now, I’ve realised that some people don’t even try to email you anymore – they go straight onto WhatsApp, and an answer is expected almost immediately.
I find that stressful, annoying, and it disturbs my mind.
Before this, what I’d do is disappear for a while from Twitter or Instagram, because it just got too much, and you don’t feel like talking to some people, or seeing certain things, for a while. Also, when I realised that I was annoyingly being stalked, I made a conscious decision to curate (damn, I detest that word 😛 ) my feed. Very little of what you see is instant anymore. I value my privacy.
But what I also do these days, is to consciously go on a “Digital Detox” every now and then. For starters, I use the “Do Not Disturb” function on my phone to mute all notifications during sleeping hours. This means I don’t get bugged from 10pm-8am, and it stops me from looking at my phone during this time too. Generally speaking, I’m offline by 9pm till the next day. In this time, I’m usually found watching some TV or more often, reading, and spending time away from the internet.
During the day, I set aside pockets of time when I don’t look at my phone, nor check my emails. Not only does it allow me to get more work done, more quickly, I feel better too. On days off, or weekends, I take this time offline to cook or potter about my home. I like the disconnect, and the working with my hands during this time, just to reconnect with myself or with others.
When I can’t get internet connection or wifi, I no longer get stressed. Instead, I almost relish being offline. Yes, I still whip out my phone to take a photo, or capture something interesting. But I don’t feel the need to upload it and tell the world about it immediately. Well, not unless it’s “work” related 🙂 If I’m out of the country and in a cafe where there’s no wifi, I just put my phone away and people watch. It’s liberating, and you give your eyes (and mind) a rest. I don’t put my day on Instagram Stories or Snapchat, and it’s not only because of privacy or having a boring day, but also because I am not always online, or if I am, I am not always looking at my phone or tablet or computer.
I guess you could say that I’m learning to disconnect myself from the wired world in order to reconnect. I think it’s important that we do. When I meet people or talk to people, I try to make a conscious effort to not look at my phone, or sometimes, I switch it to silent mode so notifications are muted. Often, I only take calls not messages, and even then, only ones from people I know, or for work. When I had meals with a friend who’d always be on the phone, I made it a rule that phones were out of bounds during the meal. It gives you at least 15-30 minutes where you are forced to talk to each other, and that’s a good thing!
As a society, I think we’re all a little too caught up in our online worlds. Some of us could even feel that false sense of importance inflated by large numbers ascribed next to our names or personas. It’s just as important to stop, look up from the phone and realise that in the big scheme of things, no one knows (or really cares) who you are 😀
What say you? Are you able to disconnect? Do you detox yourself digitally every now and then?
I decided to do it when I realised I was a little too caught up with staying up to date on everything. You eventually realise you can’t. That’s when I hit a mental roadblock. But when I realised that I could stay offline and the world still didn’t end (LOL! 😀 ), I knew it was time I appreciate what’s out there! 🙂 I realise it’s ironic, since you’d have to be online to comment, but tell me how you feel about living in this wired age 😀
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Digital detox = when my home wifi was down, and run out data on my mobile for almost 1 week. The outcome = good quality of sleep and wake up quite early.
Need to detox more often.. hahaha
Paris B says
LOL! See, you did see benefits from going offline 😉 I find I sleep better if I stop all digital information consumption before bed. I just read till I fall asleep. I read somewhere that the light of the mobile phone can disrupt our melatonin and prevent us from having better sleep. So since then I try to avoid gadgets before bed
I have learnt to do the same. I limit looking at facebook once a day. Became a habit at looking at facebook even at traffic lights. Not only was it dangerous, it became an overload. So no looking at phone in the car, no phone during meal times and try not to use the phone after 9. Only social media I am on is facebook and thinking of quitting that as well. Its liberating not to be tied to the the digital devices.
Paris B says
Oh I can relate! I used to do twitter or Instagram at traffic lights, but I try to avoid it now. For safety, as you say. I do enjoy being on my social media platforms because there’s so much I can learn or find out from there. But limiting my information intake helps maintain my state of mind better 🙂
” I don’t feel the need to upload it and tell the world about it immediately.” <— this is so me. I haven't update my fb for 12 weeks (fb keep asking for status updates pffttt) and my ig is just sad.
I took pictures and videos but I no longer have that urge to share it with the world. I still share, but just with close and immediate groups. And the sun still rise from the east, no biggie lol!
Paris B says
haha I like your approach DMJ 😀 I keep my IG for the blog and my Facebook too. So it’s become more of a job than just for fun. But for my personal stuff, I just share them directly with people who matter, not strangers. I guess we just don’t need the validation of strangers for what we do or not do eh? 😀
I only have instragram starting this year which I don’t update. Instagram create impulse for me to buy stuff. So I only browse for 15 mins every day and limit myself to following people. My phone is silent all the time since I find ringing and whatsapp sound stress me out.
I think going to island with no internet connection and friends is fun. I had a trip last year with my friends and all we did for 3 days and 2 nights was play board games, lazing around having drinks and chatting. At night it was star gazing.
It was amazing that we last that long given we’re all addicted to phone.
Paris B says
Aww that does sound like a lovely break! I do try to keep off my phone when I’m on holiday or with family or friends. It’s about that human connection that we need to stay tuned to. I don’t close myself off from the online world, but I do take moments to stay offline. It helps me stay centered better.
Mei Ping says
How I wish I can disconnect from the digital world….. I actually prefer working previously where there were no internet/emails. If we have to send out anything to our colleagues, it will be via memorandum (this will actually tell you how old I am!!) – physically sending out to them.
Now, since I have been working from home but still being employed, I can’t disconnect from my work totally even during the weekends/public holidays. I tend to check my emails often. I get very stressed and come Monday I don’t seem to get rested at all.
I just came back from a week holiday and during that time I felt so free and happy away from the digital world. But on the last day of my holiday, the stress started to build up knowing of my work and email piling up. I dreaded going through my emails (about 50 a day sometimes more) and wished that I can disconnect totally from the digital world.
Paris B says
Actually working these days is far more stressful than it used to be. Back in the day, once you’re out of the office, you can’t be reached till you get home. These days, because of our mobile phones, we’re perpetually on call. I find that stressful, which is why before this, I made it a point to stop responding to work outside of office hours. I think it’s fair. I do find that emails are sometimes so pointless aren’t they? I think people used to think a little more before sending off a memo or letter. These days, because of the instantaneous nature of email, it all goes out, whether you need to say so or not.
I think the only thing between me and a digital detox is that people are looking for me all the time… I’m starting to think being involved in a lot of things and making many friends isn’t necessarily good. And I’m just a student so woe!
Having said that, I do enjoy timeout from social media like Instagram and Facebook (since when did it start putting up reminders of the last time you’ve posted?!) other than checking my favourite accounts for certain periods throughout the year (my friends have complained on occasion that it’s like I disappears during sem breaks). Internet as whole would be a bit more difficult for me since I enjoy reading articles and watching videos of interest but they’re still doable 🙂
Paris B says
Haha social butterfly! 😀 Seriously though, seeing as you are a student I think this is now the norm as opposed to when I was a student and getting my own email account for the first time haha! I’m glad I didn’t have social media when I was a student. I’m not sure if I could focus long enough on studies 😀
Haha Digital Detox is such a millenial term. Back then, pre-internet existence was just called Life haha
Indeed, offline is the new luxury. It is great to hear that you have a daily plot to maintain a concept of being away from the all-consuming digital world, when and where possible. Balance can do all of us a world of good.
Sadly, I agree that the air is so thick with #FOMO that it takes a conscious effort to switch off from the madding crowd.
Can it be the early 90’s again?
Paris B says
LOL Yes you remember that thing called Life 😀 I can’t deny the digital life has been good – it’s given me lots of good friends who I can catch up with in real life! 😀 I think the trick here is to be conscious about what we’re doing or not doing, and not allow ourselves to be sucked up into the online life, that just isn’t real. The odd thing is that this luxury is not enjoyed by many anymore. Not that I’m complaining 😉
To be honest, I never have because I struggled with defining what’s digital. Do I confine it to just my phone/tablet and the use of social media and texts? What if I was using my iPad for a mindfulness breathing exercise? Or referring to it for a particular yoga pose? Or using it to colour for mindfulness? Or sudoku? Or reading from my Kindle? When all these come into play, I work myself up (yea I’m a bit nuts) and just throw my hands in the air and go – argh it’s too hard.
How I manage it is be conscious of how often I check for updates. Besides replies on Twitter, I have no notifications turned on for social media – not FB/Instagram/Twitter. Certain chat groups are muted (sorry, love you guys but the incessant pings can drive me bonkers) Sometimes instagram generates hate-stalk and I think I’m better than that.
When I travel, I’ll admit the first thing I do is seek out a local sim – more for safety than anything else.
Paris B says
If I’m going anywhere for longer than 3 days, I’d get a local sim. But not otherwise as I figure anything can wait till I get some wifi, which isn’t that elusive anymore these days. For me, I define digital as any information consumption through social media, and even using a digital device. Primarily, it is because I read that the light from digital devices can interfere with our sleep patterns, and having sleeping problems, I decided to try it. So, for me, I reduce anything digital approaching bed time. I read paperbacks, and this is also why I can’t read ebooks. I just don’t want to be overly exposed. But again, that’s just me and my old-fashioned way of thinking 😀
I must admit I do find it hard to disconnect. But when I’m forced to, oh it feels really good. I was in Orkney (remote islands north of Scotland) recently and there was literally no mobile phone service most of the time. It’s quite scary at first to see “No Service” at the upper left corner of the phone, especially when we were in very remote areas but once we got used to it, the fact that we can’t use our phones for anything else but taking photos (and not even able to upload it to anywhere immediately) was liberating. I held my phone, took it out often out of habit but not being able to check anything online actually felt good. Of course, all goes back to normal once we’re at a bigger town and the first thing we ask for at restaurants or pubs wasn’t for the menu but “do you have wifi?”. ?
Paris B says
Ooh you went to Orkney! How exciting 😀 I have a friend in Scotland who complains often of poor telco reception. I should go and visit haha! 😀 I confess I also get that rush of excitement when I get connected to the online world again after a period of time off line. But I think it helps me appreciate it more, and also forces me to think of how to deal with situations when I don’t have the almighty google to refer to LOL!
ML Chan says
“I’ve realised that some people don’t even try to email you anymore – they go straight onto WhatsApp, and an answer is expected almost immediately.
I find that stressful, annoying, and it disturbs my mind.”
AGREED! I’m glad someone had the right sense of mind to say something abt it.
Paris B says
For me, if it’s about work, and not urgent, like life-and-death urgent, whatsapp is unnecessary. That said, I hope I don’t do the same to you LOL!
I feel you.
When I first started work, the way we communicate is either thru a desk phone or, a fax machine. No email no whatsapp. Nowadays, like you said, people whatsapp you and expect immediate response, which really annoy me. For most of the group chat (be it friends or works), I muted them off. No notifications. Sometimes I even muted the phone during work. I mean, if it is that important, they can always reach me through, say, the office desk phone!
As for social media, it is hard. That is also why I start buying books nowadays so that I can spend an hour or half to read at night before going to sleep instead of browsing aimlessly on instagram.
Paris B says
oh yes, browsing Instagram can suck up so much time and before you know it, an hour has past. It’s scary! I try not to browse too much these days, unless I have a lot of time to waste e.g. waiting in line LOL! I don’t have as many whatsapp groups, thankfully so I haven’t had to mute anyone just yet. Not having all this external nuisances helps us focus on work better I find. At least that way we get what we have to do out of the way, and get to go home earlier!
Reading this gives me resolve to quit FB again. I don’t like to post FB as I like privacy, but dang, FB is getting so good at predicting topics I like , it’s scary, yet effective in getting me scrolling for posts that entertains me. I think Uninstall will be the only solution, yet I have not taken this last step.
I love being connected while travelling, as it gives me a sense of security to be able to get info/help anytime. I also feel less stress out that I don’t need to plan every single details when Google is at my fingertips. Being able to share photos and chat with my family and close buddies realtime makes me that they are sharing my travel experiences.
Paris B says
I hear ya on being connected while traveling. When I’m on my own I definitely make sure I’m connected for safety and security. But if I’m with someone I eschew the connection and rely on free wifi where I can get it. Especially on short breaks. Thus far it works for me 🙂
As for FB I’m not a fan of the platform and I get what you mean by how well they can predict our habits. Just the little I use of FB shows me this and strengthens my resolve to not have a personal account. Hasn’t hurt me not having one for the past 10 years 😀
Hui Min says
Thanks for writing this and reading this is just relaxing my mind. I am also a person who loves to keep myself away from the internet for certain time. I hate receiving whatsapp message about work, especially at night! Email for me, is already efficient enough for work. In addition, my job requires me to stay online every minute. It is really nice to stay away from the internet to watch TV, read or talk to my family while I am not working.
By the way, mind sharing your favorite Diptyque perfume?
Paris B says
That’s why I put my phone on Do Not Disturb for the later part of the evening. No noise, no notifications. Perfect for getting ready for bed 😀 I don’t reply to messages either unless they are life threatening and very few are LOL! As for Diptyque perfumes, it’s hard! LOL! Diptyque perfumes are so niche – I was at the new store at Pavilion the other day, and talking to the SA and we agreed that it was hard to recommend a perfume. Candles are much easier to accept.
That said, I like Water 34 and Volutes. I don’t know if Volutes is still available, because I didn’t see it in the store when I was there, and couldn’t remember what it was called. But I like it for its smokey scent. I also quite like Eau Moheli in small doses (I have a roll on) and Geranium Odorata (based on testers). Best thing is to go to the store and try them and see how you like them 🙂
I think age has a lot to do on these topic because I’m really used to send messages to my friends via Whats App or Messenger so I use my phone a lot; but I agree that we need to learn to disconnect maybe next week I’ll try not to check social media for certain hours in a day.
Paris B says
Oh yes, I come from the analog generation, and straddle the digital, which is probably why I feel it more than you do 😀 I do appreciate the accessibility to people, especially old friends who I can just chat with on Whatsapp or new friends I can make on social media, like you! But I also think a bit of disconnect is good sometimes, just to center yourself. All that digital vibes can’t be very good for us can it? 😀
I started my digital detox routine somewhere in the mid of last year when I felt really overwhelmed by everything I am seeing, hearing and I just needed time to be by myself and recentre. From then on, I make it a habit not to constantly be on my phone – haha not even to reply messages unless they are really important. It did come to an extreme where I deleted my social media apps; I also no longer use Twitter – 140 letter platform for people to do their day to day ranting. Healthy? I think not!
I was just tracking my habits or understand what is taking up my time through the day and I realised that most of it would be spending time watching YouTube videos (and one leads to another) or constantly just scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, mindlessly. Like as if your brain has been wired to click on those apps when you are avoiding awkward social situations, sitting in the bus, boring lectures etc.
Another thing we do would be to put on phones at the centre of the dinner table and the rule was that the first person to use their phones would pay the bill – this usually works! 😉
Personally, I think it is really important to put aside our devices to reconnect with people or ourselves & I try to only have one day of just not touching my devices.
Paris B says
Hi Faith 🙂 I like your idea of not touching the phone during meal times 🙂 Fortunately my friends aren’t overly glued to their phones, so we usually do get in lots of good conversation and laughs. Always a good thing! No need for us to put anything on social media to show that we’re having fun because we already are! I think people spend too much time worrying about what a complete stranger thinks of them online as opposed to making a good impression in real life. I’ve recently met some “famous” online personalities (read: influencers) who have the social graces of a potato but give off the impression of being bubbly and friendly online. I’d rather not even go there 😛