Digital Dependency

imagesThere’s a fantastic article in the latest edition of Fast Company Magazine by Baratunde Thurston called “I have left the internet.”  (Fast Company)

In this article, Thurston talks about his decision to step away from this “dependency” for a period of 25 days.  He shares his experience, ways to do this and the value that comes from it.

Here are some of the things that he challenged me with:

Am I digitally dependent?

He asks some simple questions:

*How often to I check Twitter before getting out of bed?

*How often have I had 5 minutes of internet activity turn into 30 minutes?

*How often have I texted while walking across the street?

*How often have I reached for my phone during a meeting just for the comfort?

*When was the last time I shared a picture of my dinner plate, or my cat’s dinner plate?

*When was the last time I nearly walked into someone while checking my phone?

As I read through these, I identified with just about every one of them, expect the cat’s dinner plate.

While digital technology is revolutionizing the way we do global communication, it also creates some habits in us that lead to tech burn-out and a growing desire to avoid contact with real people, face to face.

Thurston did a “digital detox“, which allowed him to assess his dependency.  Maybe this is something you can do too.

Here are some ideas for you to consider.  You may not be able to go “cold turkey” for 25 days, but take some steps and see how it feels:

*When you schedule your next vacation, time away, or long-weekend off, let everyone know that you’re not going to be available via email, text, Facebook, Twitter or any other way. Warn them, then turn your phone off.  Figure out a way that family and close friends can get in touch with you in case of emergency, but just stop for a while, and see how you feel.

*Set some margins each day:  no email after 7:00pm, no computer in bed, no smart phone in the bathroom, etc…  Just create some space each day.

*Read a newspaper, magazine or book, and remember that you don’t need to have up-to-the-minute news 24/7.

*Instead of emailing or messaging someone, call them to talk personally, or better yet, walk down the office hallway into their office!

*Leave your computer charger at home, and only use your computer as long as the battery lasts.  This is tough!  Some of us need to be on our computers all day, but learn to manage that time and find things that need to done away from the computer.  I know that when I’m managing battery life I don’t spend time doing things that don’t matter.

*With your kids, exchange “digital time” with “activity time.  They get so many minutes on the computer after they have so many minutes of outdoor activity.  Keep it balanced.  This works for adults too!

There are many more ideas in this article, and you can find other help by just googling….. wait, that kind of defeats the purpose.

I write this because I’m dependent.  I want to unplug a little more and I’m searching for ways to incorporate some of that 70’s technology into my daily grind.

Look at your “digital life”.  If you’re in trouble, make some small changes now that will help you over the long haul.

Share your ideas for what has worked for you in your “digital detox”.

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