Killing Technology: Why Turning Off My Phone Makes Me a Better Person

June 20, 2016

2:03 pm

Every Sunday I kill technology. I completely unplug. It doesn’t just mean that I don’t watch TV (which I never do anyway) – I leave my dear Macbook turned off and put my phone on airplane mode and hide it a place I won’t see it until Monday morning.

I basically stay away from technology all day. I don’t even turn on the light in my apartment – instead, I go full-on middle-age-creep with candles and perhaps a real-life book. You know, the one made of paper, not an e-book.

Except of course I leave the fridge on – I prefer to not risk my friendships should any of my non-virtual real friends stop by.

So, I don’t like technology? What kind of weirdo am I?

Don’t get me wrong – technology is awesome. I love technology.

I work in online marketing, and without technology I’d be bored and I’d have to go with my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Luckily, I don’t have to. Technology enables and empowers us to take action towards anything in life that we want. Few people living in developed countries today have a legit excuse for not living the life they want with the technological resources available to almost everyone. I consider myself an entrepreneur, and a lucky one; I’m living in a time where I can start a business in 15 minutes (at least here in Denmark), make my own website with just a few clicks, and where so much data is available that not optimizing business processes is like buying a pretty dress without ever wearing it.

Technology is absolutely awesome, and I appreciate that it’s part of my life. I am one lucky Viking!

But, sometimes, tech turns us into zombies. It takes over.

Sometimes real, physical people like myself get addicted to technology. Sometimes we even lose ourselves in it. Have you ever caught yourself (almost) losing a bus stop because you were too obsessed scrolling down your Facebook feed? Did you ever wake up at night to check your work email?

Technology is just as addictive as nicotine or sugar – if not more. If technology had the same effect on our BMI as sugar, way too many of us would have suffered from various cardiovascular diseases by now. That number is not a piece of information I’m hungry to get.

But how do we solve this? While you can decide to go no-sugar for a month to detox, it’s not necessarily as easy to do the same with our phones and laptops – at least not if you consider yourself part of a civilized world and/or use a computer on an everyday basis. Or really just if you want to somehow preserve your relationships with all the WhatsApp-addicts you call friends.

Once a week can do the trick.

For me, scheduling one day a week to ditch technology permits me to get a mini-tech-detox and reset my mind. Every Sunday, I realize how ridiculously big an amount of time I spend with my eyes stuck on a screen as opposed to in the real world.

When you have to, you have to – but often times, you really don’t.

There’s no need to walk on the sidewalk completely buried in an online feed that updates me on my cookie-baking, pole-dancing, brunch-eating (semi-)friends, or tempts me to sign up for the next online marketing tool so well targeted to my marketing-addicted Facebook profile. And don’t even get me started on parents posting pictures of their kids before the kid can even pronounce the word facebook.

I started ditching technology when I lived in Tel Aviv in 2014. One of the first times I did it, I went up a major street to get my favorite Mexican takeaway (no technology is used to make Mexican food… right?). I waited for my food sitting on a bench while watching random people walking by. I realized how rarely I pay attention to the people around me in public spaces. Watching people is fun! Also, I noticed that a building near my apartment had the most beautiful decorations that I’d never noticed – because I’d always walk there either occupied in a conversation or with my eyes stuck on some cute virtual kittens (because seriously, who can resist those?).

We constantly seek distractions. Distractions are toxins for the brain, and it ruins our productivity.

Sometimes, it’s healthy to slow down and not let distractions, the latest technologies and the fluffiest cats swallow our souls. Sometimes it’s a good idea to put our technology use into perspective by detoxing for a while.

Sometimes, my brain needs a time-out. When it gets what it needs, I know I have a productive, happy week ahead of me.

This doesn’t mean that my Sundays are asocial – on the contrary, I often spend time either with my better half or with my real-life, non-virtual friends. And the non-presence of a phone just makes everyone better able to enjoy the moment and connect with each other – for real.

Ditching technology once a week allows me to reconnect with myself, clean my brain from distractions, go to the nature, learn something new from an old book, or nurture real-life relationships with real people that matter to me.

People, including ourselves, are rarely the ones their Instagram filters or #nofilters reflect.

And finally, it’s really just refreshing with a reminder of what real life means.

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Anne Clara is the Marketing Manager of Shopbox, a Copenhagen-based startup. She spends most of her time drowning superwoman-brew and creating awesome communication for the startup.

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