I’m on a Tech Detox (but Promise This Isn’t Click Bait)

Only I’m more compelled to call it a new way of life

11.03.15
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Here is list of things I did on Saturday:

+Got out of bed

+Almost meditated, instead ate toast with Abie (my husband), reflected on grand plans I had for myself (both personal and not) a year ago and told him I feel like a loser because they haven’t been met. (Like a truly self-indulgent narcissist, I subsequently talked myself into believing they just weren’t the right goals — but we can talk about this another time.)

+Went to Whole Foods for avocado, eggs, salmon, basil and ezekiel bread

+Came home, made scrambled eggs (with basil and truffle oil, I highly recommend it) and giuagiamoli! (that “!” is part of the name), which is what I call the Italian equivalent of guacamole a.k.a mashed avocado with lemon juice, basil and salt.

+Drank coffee, ate aforementioned eggs with my friend Roxana, talked about self-awareness

+Went for a 30-block walk in shearling, open-toe clogs and then turned around to Soho to meet two friends in town from Paris

+Met them. Spent hours together

+Came home

+Left home

+Got a pedicure

+And a back rub

+Came home

+Ordered sushi

+Checked my phone and then…

And then

I’m not exactly sure what happened next. The Mets were on. Snapchat was on, Instagram looked shiny and new. I texted — but can’t remember with who, I tried to write this story — but ultimately found that the creative vision I hoped would drive it was still lingering at the ophthalmologist’s office. That was terrible, I’m sorry, but here’s the point: I didn’t have my phone on me from the time the sun set on Friday until it went down on Saturday. An attentive Jew might refer to this as “observance,” but I’m better suited calling it a weekly tech-fast.

In September, to combat post-summer anxiety, I implemented three new practices: Wednesday mornings as “me” mornings (as in, take your favorite magazine or the newspaper to your favorite coffee shop and sit there, in silence, for an hour before work), one night a week as a “me” night (in this scenario, I drink a glass of wine at a quiet restaurant with a book), and Saturdays as a day away from my cellphone. No text messages, no e-mails, no Instagram, nothing. Except me! And my head! And the great outdoors. We talk about how tired we are, how badly we have to do something about it, but we never actually do anything. So I decided to do something.

I can’t know if you’re experiencing similar feelings of fatigue spurred by hyper-connectivity but I know that feeling as though you’re losing yourself is an experience we can all relate with.

See, the thing about the list of events I participated in on Saturday is this: I remember them all. My husband and I had a great conversation that morning. I can still kind of taste the cinnamon I peppered into my coffee. The lovely check-out clerk at Whole Foods had the coolest gold stars pasted onto her face. That walk I took was freeing. I was held accountable to show up at a lunch that had been arranged the previous week with zero check-in and I succeeded! I was aware, and fully invested, and not trying to chalk myself up to a genius multi-tasker because multitasking is not a real thing.

But at that lunch, I wish I’d had my phone. I realized half way through a sparkling conversation on the state of fashion that I wanted to tape record our conversation to turn it into a story but then I realized that if I did have my phone, I’m not sure we’d have had that conversation. Because even if I were not to check it while we were eating, I’d know it was there — like an infant in a carriage who may be sleeping but is still very much alive, so I wouldn’t be free. And that’s what this comes down to, right? The complicated pursuit of freedom in a world that looks and feels and acts like it’s free but traps us in the footnotes.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis

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  • Kelsey O’Donnell

    This was the kick-in-the butt, so to speak, I needed.

    • Ericka Faison

      Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer is starting to support the practice that I have been doing since last year . In this year I have already made 58k dollars with my computer , despite the fact that I am a college student . Even newly joined person can make 35h easily and the average increase with time … Try this for details .

      http://www.sodexousa.24.je
      ↑21

  • +++breaking old news+++
    http://www.wnyc.org/series/bored-and-brilliant/

    +++whoa, podcasts+++

  • I don’t have a Facebook (so I can’t really relate to the FB post from earlier), but I find myself constantly checking Instagram – as if every second had a new post. Sometimes I’ll even open the internet (like YouTube) only to find that I am not actually interested in anything. I’m going to do tech detoxes more often.

  • I want to get a beeper for true emergencies. I’m frustrated by the idea that I’m accessible 24/7, but only by smartphone. I want to turn off my phone to stop compulsively checking it, but it’ll inevitably be the one random day where it’s a true emergency or surprise.

    • terklo

      Put a ringer on your phone for when you get messages, only check it when you hear the ringer. Similar to a beeper and you’ll feel strong for not having the urge to check your phone all the time.

  • BK

    Solution to recording sound without a phone – get a dictaphone/voice recorder, they’re cooler than they sound.
    Sorry for that pun (but really we both know I’m not)
    The pickup of a good one is absolutely amazing, often they have free automatic transcribing software included and best of all, you can’t check your Instagram on them.

  • Hannah Cole

    Preach!
    My life’s needs exactly.

  • Natty

    I am totally exhausted by my phone as well. I recently deleted a lot of apps (including Facebook!), which has cut down the mindless, compulsive, opening-and-closing of social media that I often do. I also turned off every “push” notification that doesn’t have to do with direct person-to-person communication (so everything except from texts and calls) and this has also helped limit distractions.

  • Miranda Babbitt

    that was such a refreshing spin on the classic we-all-hate-social-media-yet-nobody-quits discussion. it’s like, yes, connecting online is a part of our lives now but, wait a second, it’s not oxygen. we can, in fact, limit our use and still survive as a functioning social human being.

    love the focused days you have, too. I am now plotting my “me” day with much joy.

  • Rebeca Delgado

    I feel you so much Leandra! Thank you. I needed it.

  • My husband and I thought we might try a tv-free week to see if our brains transform back from mush to a solid, information soaking, creative machine. Thoughts?

  • I love this article. I have been reading a lot of books recently by Hemingway and one of my favorite things he would do is simply go on long walks. I love how much he just took life in (albeit it was a different time) and made sure he experienced and observed the things around him. It was a good reminder as a creative person to physically interact with my surrounds beyond that of a screen. So today I went to the art museum for a creative work break instead of using my phone and it was so inspiring. Phones are great, but I agree it is important to be self aware with how attached we can get to them. ( On a side note half of Seinfeld’s situations could have been solved with a smart phone. It is hard to remember what it was like before them! )

  • Stephanie G

    Tiffany Shlain does a technology shabbat! check it out in her Making of a Mensch

    http://www.letitripple.org/making_of_a_mensch

  • Mandy

    Felt more relaxed even just reading about your experience. I think that all 3 of your new practices are important, not just the tech detox. It is so so crucial to squeeze you-time into your week.
    I’m going to start putting myself of my priority list ASAP!

  • Lua Jane

    Not sure how I feel about it. In some way, I love the idea of liberty from the phone and technology as such. It trully is liberating to do something, anything without having to reply to someone, read something or document the moment. We’ve become slaves to it. I’d say voluntarily, but we’ve lost the control of it at some point. However phones and connectibility matters. Month and a half ago I found my self in Istanbul, accross the continent in a midst of broken romance with a broken/dead telephone. I felt more desperate and isolated because I couldn’t talk to my friends, and somehow and manage my way out of the situation through humor and support of those I love. I never really thought about phone that much. But alone and heartbroken in a large foreign town I really needed it.

  • Reba

    Even the thought of walking through NYC without headphones or stopping to check texts/emails at every crosswalk is scary for a lot of people, but actually appreciating the sounds and views you have available to you is a great recess from staring at your bright phone.

  • Shannon

    I love the built in “me” time and building in practices that allow you to breathe and relax in the midst of everyday life. Ensuring that I make that time for myself away from my phone and news has definitely helped with feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

  • The complicated pursuit of freedom in a world that looks and feels and acts like it’s free but traps us in the footnotes.

    What does traps us in the footnotes mean? Do you mean like a catch?

  • Anthea

    While I think the article was quite nice, I can’t help but feel is was kind of condescending. As if everyone is so totally sucked in by their technology, and it’s causing such a detrimental effect to all of us.
    For you, maybe. And maybe for other people. But I don’t think you should even really imply that everyone has the same inability to be with the real world concurrently to the virtual.

  • Arielle Shiri

    “The complicated pursuit of freedom in a world that looks and feels and acts like it’s free but traps us in the footnotes.” Such a good line and so true. This idea that the internet and our phones open us up to an entire world of progression is so misleading since it’s really just promoting us to sink further down into our couches, and spend more time staring at screens when we should be focusing on humans or books or anything in real life. Or maybe we’ve just been using it wrong and can’t get out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into. But so far, i have to agree, it just seems like our technology is highly deceptive and i don’t know if i trust it anymore.

  • And that’s what this comes down to, right? The complicated pursuit of freedom in a world that looks and feels and acts like it’s free but traps us in the footnotes.

    potentially best sentence(s) you’ve ever written?

  • Marissa P

    Note: This only works when you aren’t hoping your car insurance will finally call you back or are in talks with a headhunter about opportunities 😛

    But I get your point.

  • Mandy Davenport

    Wow!! Was thinking about this all weekend and actually went almost all of yesterday phone/laptop free. It was hard, but great — and am so glad I stumbled upon this article. Thanks!!

  • Good stuff! Love and inspired by the new ‘practices’.

  • Catalina

    My sexual partner in crime and I have a “NO SOCIAL MEDIA” policy on the weekends. Which we often have to scold each other to put down the phone if he sees me doing the thumb-pull-to-refresh-instgram gesture OR I see his all black screen speckled with football helmets (he often argues Fantasy Football is not ‘social media’. But, he keeps referring to these people as ‘my teammates’, therefore, I live with someone who practicing self-deception)…

    Anywhoo – this was a great read. Hoping to implement this 1 hour of me time before and after work during the week, novel idea.

  • ccjourn

    good ideas !