There is much joy to be found when I detach from the world. Of course, I never fully detach, but going a few hours without looking at a device does have its benefits.
It was a summer day, a few years ago, and I wanted to get out of the house. I got on the train, walked around a bit downtown, went to see a movie; then my phone died. To my surprise, I didn’t care. I ended up getting dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and walking some more, before I took the bus home. Even with the mediocre actions of the day, I still remember it as one of the best days I had. When my phone died, there was no anxiety to get to the nearest charger, and with no need to check in; I just went about my day.
Today, I won’t leave my house unless my phone is above 95% and before walking out of the door, I make sure my phone is on low power mode, just in case. My life, like many others in this day and age, revolves around devices. From using my computer at work, to listening to a podcast or playing a game during my commute on my phone. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a phone on me. There have been a few times when I left my house, and made it to the train, only to go all the way back home when I realized my phone was not with me. I refused to listen to the conversations of other commuters, or eat my lunch without visual stimulation. And let’s not forget my daily Instagram upload, because my followers would be lost without me.
In the fall of 2019, my life almost ended. I went to sleep with my phone plugged in and I woke up to my phone only being at 25% I figured the wire came undone in my sleep, so I plugged it back in and prepared to get ready for work. When I got out of the shower it was at 20%, I got so frustrated I started to cry. I went to work and experimented with various chargers, cords, wireless pads, and none of them worked. I watched as my phone went from 5 to 1, and when my phone died, I felt like my life was over. That day I missed lunch because I was at the apple store trying to get it fixed. That night I went to a Broadway show; but I couldn’t fully enjoy it because all I could think about was my phone. The next morning, I went to the AT&T and send for a replacement that had to be ordered. When the doorbell rang Saturday morning, I ran downstairs. I didn’t even grab my precautionary knife from the drawer, in case it was an intruder. (Yes! I watch way too many cop shows). None the less, I opened that box with the same excitement that a kid opens a present on Christmas morning. I charged it up, swapped over my information, and all was right with the world again.
As I scrolled through my Instagram, Facebook, and emails, I couldn’t help but think back to a simpler time. I thought back to that day in the summer; and there was a peace of mind in knowing that the inability to connect to the digital world is only temporary. It would’ve been easy to get a charger and fuel up, but I chose to enjoy the peace of the silence. However, when that silence was forced upon me, I found no peace.
I realized then that my connection with devices was unhealthy, to say the least. So, I started limiting my interactions with them, in the best way I knew how. Instead of listening to podcasts during my commute, I would read a book (Yes… an actual printed – book). I read hundreds of books on my phone over the years, but eventually, it took a toll on my vision; and considering I stare at a computer at work all day, anytime away from bright light proved to be highly beneficial.
The next thing I did was limit the amount of time I spent on social media (Twitter & Instagram). I would allow myself a few minutes every few hours to scroll and like, and once time was up, I had to stop. When it came to Facebook it was a tad more difficult. As an activist, I felt the need to comment on the posts that resonated with me. But I learned to pick and choose my battles, thus limiting my screen time and overall drained energy from random hater.
The final thing I did was limit the amount of texting and messaging I did; I applied the same logic as I did with Facebook. Not every text required an immediate response, and some things could wait for later. The world would not implode if I didn’t respond yes that instant, and my alone time was very important to me. I had to release the self-induced anxiety from my being, because no one was causing it but me. I can now go hours without looking at my phone and it’s been a huge relief, especially considering that I don’t always want to talk or communicate. I get deep into my moods of self-preservation and my need to personally re-power up on positivity is of the utmost importance.
I challenge everyone to take some time, every day to detach and see how you feel.