All I Want For Christmas is a Digital Detox

Digital DetoxMy name is Judith and I’m addicted to digital.

One of my Christmas gifts to myself is going to be some form of digital detox. I’m officially on holiday between Friday 19th December and Monday 5th January though it is a staycation. So what this means is that I won’t be doing any “live” coaching calls with my clients. I will still be keeping an eye on them online and finishing off the last few days of my 365 blogging challenge.

But the trouble with addiction is that once I get online, getting off is very hard, nay impossible. There’s something extraordinarily addictive about the whole thing. Perhaps this is more so if you believe you have an addictive personality, as I do, but I’d love to hear from anyone who can take or leave digital. That would be fun.

They say you should set up rules like no brightly-lit wirelessly-connected gadgets in the bedroom at night. Dream on. Not going to happen round here unless I am very firm with myself indeed which I simply do not trust myself (yet) to do. And there are, of course, Apps to help with this by limiting the amount of time you are allowed to spend on Facebook each day. Since Facebook IS my work, that’s not going to work either.

The truth is I love digital. I love my gadgets – laptop, tablet and kindle. They are my work and my life. I don’t have a TV but watch it online so everything I do – work and play – is almost entirely online. Someone came to visit me yesterday, a real human being, shock horror! We had a fabulous laugh because she told me that the friend who introduced us was shocked I had invited her round, such is my hermit-like rep.

And yet I know I need to go cold turkey over Christmas with this addiction, not least because when I over-consume digital I get unbearable headaches. It happened first in June when I was part of the 30 Day Challenge, and it’s happened again in November/December. I managed to make the headache go away yesterday with a combination of celery juice, paracetamol and EFT but I know it’ll be back today if I overdo it.

I’ve written about this before. I am very drawn to challenges which seem impossible and the appeal of the digital detox has been on my mind  since 2010 when I devoured Susan Maushart’s book The Winter of Our Disconnect. An American living in Australia with her children, and a journalist to boot, she wrote the story of their six months offline and how much life was improved and the areas in which it all became more testing too.

Then Robert Crampton writing in The Times magazine in October 2013, another journalist, he had a go with his family at giving up the gadgetry. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy, he says, but he had no idea how hard it would be either, like living in the 1980s. They pretty much caved in within a matter of days where Susan and her family stuck to their guns for six months. Both Susan and Robert were writing as families and I think that would be even more challenging than for me, as a single adult who is in charge of her own life.

I like the idea of being unplugged and going off grid (to a certain extent, no outdoor composting toilets or gas lamps or open fires for me) but if you can’t get online, you can’t get online, and soon the addiction fades as you find other ways of communicating and consuming. One of the “dreams” on the Cashflow Board is six months in a fishing cabin on a Montana Lake and that appeals to me enormously. It would mean you’d have to drive into town to get a WiFi signal and file your copy, whilst at home you’d have to be content with reading proper books (only got about 3 of those) and walking. Frankly, it would be impossible for me to work so that’s a no-no for now. But part of me looks forward to the day when I can make that happen.

I like the idea of a digital detox because it would be testing in the extreme. I believe I am so happy and so competent at living and working on my own precisely because I am switched on and connected to everyone all the time – my friends and clients – via email, Skype and Facebook. All my shopping is digital. My entertainment, TV and reading and beloved movies, they’re all digital. So I don’t even really know what I mean when I say all I want for Christmas is a digital detox. I’d need to reinvent my entire life. I have absolutely no idea how that would work or what it would look like.

Once, when I was in St Martin for Christmas alone, bad weather took out all my telecoms which meant no internet, no TV, no Skype for a couple of days. And bad weather meant no sitting by the pool, reading. This wasn’t good. I didn’t enjoy that at all. 48 hours, tops. Disaster.

This Christmas, perhaps I am just looking at restricting email and Facebook to an hour a day, going for a walk or out of the house and leaving the gadgets behind when I visit friends and family and go to the movies. I don’t even know how I would manage anymore since the iPad has every solution on it from directions to maps and addresses; I would feel EXPOSED leaving the house without it though I feel completely differently about my mobile phone which I keep just for parking the car and in the event of any unlikely car breakdown. That I can do without speaking to people is a no brainer, but without being able to write to them or read them or watch them dancing on TV…? Well, that would be whole other game entirely.

For now I know it’s on the cards, I’ve got a couple of weeks in which to create my own rules. I’m looking forward to the experiment of living at least part of each day of my staycation unplugged.

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