Thursday, February 9, 2012

Results: Technology Detox Diet

Everything seemed normal. White clouds floated in a brilliant blue sky. A winter chill nipped at my cheeks. I felt weekend energy stirring. The garage door opened when I pushed the button on the remote control. Despite these common occurrences, a bit of nervousness swirled inside me. After entering my house, I checked my voicemail, text messages, e-mail, Facebook and this blog. Then - time for the big shutdown. My thumb hesitated as I pushed the end button on my cell phone, but soon most of the machines in my life were turned off. My technology detox diet had begun.

I waited for the trembling to start, the anxiety to build. It didn't. As I sat in my comfy black desk chair tapping a rolled magazine on my knee I thought, this isn't so hard. Shrugging, I hopped up and started my weekend away from the techno world.

How did I do?

I'd give myself a B if I were being graded. I did cheat, a little. I spent the weekend with my husband and friends in a large, rustic Adirondack camp. Broadband, digital cable and cell phone service hadn't found a home there so in a way it was a forced shutdown. Okay, okay. Maybe I cheated a lot, but there were still challenges.  

Someone did bring an I-Pad, which was used for emergency questions like, "What's the name of that ski resort in Northern Maine?" and "Can you freeze quiche?" I didn't peek when the I-Pad was pulled out, but once, after two glasses of wine, I almost asked to borrow it so I could check my e-mail.

Another challenge came when I returned Sunday afternoon and felt like making a mad dash to my laptop. Instead, I unpacked, read and organized my writing materials. My biggest cheat was the Superbowl. I watched Kelly Clarkson nail the national anthem, Madonna rock it out at halftime (Is she really somewhere in her fifties?) and the last quarter of the game (couldn't believe that I really don't want this touchdown play at the end). I dealt with my guilt by pretending I was at the game and not watching it on TV. It sort of worked.

The bottom line is I stayed on my technology diet about 90% of the time. Not bad.   

What were the results?

I loved the free feeling that came with being wireless. My favorite part was not having the beep beep of my cell interrupt activities, conversations and thoughts. Second, had to be exercising without my I-Pod. Although I love music, moving with only the sounds of the world to keep me company was magical. While I was cross country skiing, I heard the whisper of a gentle breeze, birds caw, twigs brush against my coat in the forest and a crunchy splash when my boot found a thin spot on a frozen brook. With it came a welcome feeling of tranquility.     
  It is nearly impossible to avoid technology altogether in the contemporary world, but that's not such a bad thing. These modern inventions are fun, useful and necessary. The key is to find balance. So here are my goals to manage my technology use in the future:
  • Silence my cell phone in restaurants and during meals. 
  • Ignore the beep of my cell phone if I'm in the middle of a conversation or something else important.
  • Limit the amount of times I check personal e-mail and other electronic messages in a day.
  • Take at least one walk per week without my I-pod.
Here are some photos of the Stillwater Reservoir in the Western NY Adirondacks where I had a weekend full of kick back moments. It's one of the few places in the Northeast that has an accumulation of snow this winter. Oh yeah, I did use a digital camera. Does that count?



  1. Hi,

    How true this is! I believe we all need a technology detox every now and then. I am a technology freak but find it relaxing to go for a walk without my cellphone or even to read a book without reading it on my iPad.

    Great article. I really enjoyed it.

  2. Hi there,

    this opend my eyes... i am looking all the time my phone, e-mail, facebook, twitter.. omg!! Need to do that also! Thanks for opening my eyes:)

    All the best,

  3. Lovely, thought-jabbing piece, Peggy. I love my tech stuff and talk about it sometimes on my blog. I am always amazed at how I can slip into the non-tech world if I travel without my phone, iPad2 or laptop. Oh, and I have a desktop computer, too. Truly spoiled I am. You've given me an idea for a post on my blog in the future. Thanks!

    1. Nice post, Peggy. I have noticed I am much more engaged, present and gounded when I am on a technology-diet. After a few days, I stop thinking about it and find myself so focused on the present moment. But the first hour and day, I literally feel myself being pulled by the gadgets as if they were an intoxicating drug. I admire your technology cleanse, and love the whole blog concept you have going here. Cheers!

  4. I don't think most of us realize how much our gadgets control our actions. Yesterday I was right in the middle of a conversation with a very nice person. Her cell phone beeped letting her know a text message had come through. She stopped talking mid-sentence to read her message. I don't think she even ralized it was a bit rude. I think be mindful about how we let technology control our actions is so important.