It could be said that our generation is obsessed with being clean, pure and detoxed. We’re constantly consuming artificial food additives and inhaling pollution, so the desire for cleanliness is no surprise. You could argue that clean eating was a result of paranoia and genuine concern over what our modern, ‘processed’ diet could be doing to our bodies. Similarly, people are growing increasingly worried about what technology and social media could be doing to our minds.
So, the rise of the ‘digital detox’.
If you haven’t heard of this phenomenon before, it’s when someone chooses to take a prolonged break from their devices (phones, tablets, the web etc.) so as to calm their minds and lower their stress. If you’re reading this, you’re clearly not on one.
Taking the word ‘detox’ literally, it means ridding the body of a toxic substance in order to better your health. In this context, the poison is tech.
As with any detox, it normally follows some kind of over-indulgence. Dry-January follows a boozy Christmas. A ‘juice cleanse’ follows a crazy party season. So, a digi-detox follows a year of email bombardment, WhatsApp group chats and obsessive Instagram scrolling. Massive over consumption leaves us with the need to not just slow down or reduce that consumption, but entirely eliminate it.
I think a digi-detox is a great thing. We need to step away from our screens. We need to be less contactable. We need to reconnect with the physical world around us. Our brains are addicted to gobbling up information (however irrelevant or fake it might be). But, maybe if we were all a bit less switched on 24/7, we wouldn’t need to dramatically label it a ‘detox’. If we could exercise healthy balance and moderation, as with our diets, perhaps a publicly announced withdrawal from the Interweb would seem like an unnecessary over-reaction.
As it stands, you’re either wholly plugged in to this matrix or you have to wrench yourself completely off the grid. Hopefully, as time goes by, our relationship (physically, emotionally and mentally) with the digital world will become more harmonious and less toxic.
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