We all have our own unique addictions when it comes to our internet use. For me this usually takes the form of repeated refreshing of my Twitter feed, watching any and all stories on my Snapchat, or plummeting down a rabbit hole of useless YouTube videos about random topics that enter my head. I have been concerned about these reliances for years now, mainly because my productivity and mental health seem to get increasingly worse as my phone’s technology gets better. These devices are supposed to make us happier and more productive members of society, and yet they do the opposite for me. If I forget or lose my phone I feel like I am going through withdrawals! I get angry and anxious, feel alone and separated from society, and just generally unpleasant about the situation. At this point, scrolling through my timeline and staring at my phone honestly makes me feel disgusting lol.
I definitely feel that it is a personal necessity to do something to fix these issues, but I suffer from a lot of the same false fears and rationalizations that others do. What if I miss out on something important? How will I stay connected with friends? Will I miss out socially or professionally? I’m convinced that these are pure fiction at this point, and I found the topic of digital detox this week to have came at a great time. We are winding down the semester and entering a month long break soon, which gives us a great opportunity to take some time away from the devices. I thought the 30 day cleanse idea was interesting, but I’m not really sure its for me. The thought of having a “dumb phone” seems similarly impossible at this point in my life, but I do have some strategies from the Vox article that do seem beneficial and doable.
First, I think setting a daily screen time limit is a great start. Coupling this with limits based on time of day seem important as well, as the main thing I am concerned about is my suffering productivity during the daytime hours. Currently, I spend about 5 hours a day on my phone, although about an hour and a half of this is just from listening to background music and podcasts when I am driving or doing chores. This still leaves 3.5 hours of looking at my phone. I think a reasonable goal would be to get this down to 2 hours a day, limited to the time before I start my first class at 9:45 or on work days at 9 and after I have completed my work for the day at around 5pm. One strategy that I have considered repeatedly is deleting Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook off of my phone, but I always fall short of doing so. If I can’t bring myself to do that, I instead unfollow and delete friends who are bringing mainly negativity or anxiety into my timeline, which I do regularly. I find that this helps with the mental health side of things. I am going to use winter break as a testing period for some of these new ideas about digital detox!