Challenge : Device Detox (My Version)
A while ago, I drove from California to Arizona to visit my sister. It was a long drive and after a few hours I began to get tired of driving. My friend was with me and asked why I didn’t just use the cruise control. When I told him I had never done it before he looked at me like I had lost my mind. After chuckling to himself for quite a bit, he then showed me how to set the car in motion without actually having to keep my foot on the gas pedal.
At first it was mildly terrifying to realize that the car was driving along the road even though both my feet were firmly planted on the floor under the driver’s side seat, but as I got more and more comfortable with the moving car beneath my buns, I really began to enjoy it.
I mean what’s not to enjoy? You still get to make progress towards your destination but only with about a tenth of the effort it required before. It almost makes it feel like you’re flying (or at least gently skimming) across the top of the pavement.
As we got closer to our destination, it started to get a little more congested so I turned the autopilot off. After we got off the freeway and I began to navigate the surface streets, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with actually having to drive the car.
My annoyance grew as I had to decide when and with how much gusto to press down on the gas pedal. My irritation rose as I came across drivers moving slower than I’d have liked or choosing not to follow the basics of the road, such as signaling when making a turn.
Turns out, I quite enjoyed my experience with autopilot. I didn’t think that I would but I got used to the sensation of zoning out (at least in a way that would be considered safe to still operate a vehicle). When I got onto the surface streets I had to fully engage. To pay attention. To be present in the moment (of driving).
This got me thinking about how often I do that in my day to day life (I know, I’m a nerd, but stick with me). See the thing is, I quite liked that feeling of being present but not fully engaged. It was easy to pull off and made me think I was driving that car even though the car itself was doing a good 50% (probably more) of the major responsibilities of actually getting us to our destination.
Is it not the same when we wait in line for our beloved Starbucks with our eyes glued to the latest email, news story, or Instagram scroll? Is it not the same when we sit down for a family dinner with our favorite news station chitter chattering in the background? Is it not the same when we drone out our daily commute with repeats of the same twenty songs over and over again on different radio stations?
Before I go any further, I want to point out that there is no judgment in these statements. I too have spent my better share of an afternoon watching Real Housewives reruns (what is it about that show that is so damn addicting?!) or the better part of an hour scrolling through the Gram, trying to convince myself it’s research for my next piece but in reality just really wanting to see another video of some dog drinking a smoothie through a straw.
And not to say that those dogs aren’t entertaining. They totally are. In fact, I’ve definitely turned my mood around a few times by watching those silly videos on a bad day. I just wonder if there’s a different way.
I know, you probably think I’m going to suggest some sort of device detox. And you’re right. Kind of. While I applaud (and actually secretly admire) those that can completely rid themselves of technology for 15, 21, or maybe indefinite days, my take on most things is usually a hybrid version of sorts.
So here’s my take on a device detox. For the next 3 days, I want you to pledge to be present with your devices (sounds funny when you say it out loud right?). But seriously. Get real with yourself about why you’re using them, and then take action.
This is the thing. You actually might find this more challenging than just doing a simple no-use detox. If you’ve worked with me in the past, you know that doing a detox (while challenging) can sometimes be easier than living in that grey world in between black and white. The problem with this way is that once your detox is over, you’ll more than likely just go back to your old ways because there was no growth there, no learning, no understanding of where you were coming from and where you want to go.
So here’s your challenge:
For the next 3 days your goal is to get present and grounded every time you:
- pick up
- sit in front of
- listen to a piece of technology
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use it ... it just means that you’re checking in with yourself before you do.
Ask yourself if you’re learning something, bettering yourself in some way, actually interested in the material or if you’re just scrolling to scroll. Then ask yourself if you’re OK with that. If you need a moment to zone out, totally fine. Take it!
But if you can legitimately say to yourself that you could be doing something else with your time that would enrich, enhance, or engage you in a legitimate way, then go do that thing!
The idea behind these next 3 days is to create awareness. I don’t believe any piece of technology is inherently evil, it’s just when we begin to rely on it like it’s some sort of chronic disease medication that it becomes bad for us.
Imagine if I had kept the autopilot on, even after exiting the freeway and navigating my way on the surface streets? That could only have ended in disaster, not only for myself but for the others driving at the same time.
Give these next 3 days a go and challenge yourself to bring yourself back to the reality of YOUR life, not the highlight reel of thousands of others.
I'd love to know how this goes for you.
Shoot met a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know?