I love travelling around the world. I love spending more time outside, seeing new things and meeting new people on my travels. Something else I love, although it always takes me a few days to realise it, is leaving my daily digital habits at home. I admit, I take devices with me when I travel – usually an iPad (for movies on the plane) and my phone – but I use them much less than I would if I were pacing around in my normal life at home. Why? My theory is – a fantastic lack of boredom combined with an enforced break in my routine.
Our extreme use of mobile devices (as compared with not so long ago) may have developed out of convenience but has grown into a habit. Let’s face it, if most people have a spare minute of idol time, they will use it on a device – check their emails, social media, text messages, play a game, chat, watch a video, listen to a pod cast, read a story, look something or somebody up… The list goes on. While our society celebrates “how far we’ve come”, it often fails to acknowledge and discuss the pitfalls of this technology age. All of this opportunity and choice at our fingertips takes up a mountain of mental space, in-between what we are are already processing and dealing with in our physical environment. Our beloved devices can often make us feel like there is so much more to do, because it is so simple and easy to do it.
Using idol time to complete another task in your day may feel like a win, but it can come at a cost. What else could you have done with that time? Thought about a loved one, looked out the window and admired the weather, remembered a joke that made you smile, reflected on your behaviour during the day? If we stop doing those things because we use every spare moment to engage with a device, I believe we will be losing a big important part of ourselves.
Here is an enlightening yet scary comment from The Sabbath Manifesto (link below) :
“I recently had a guy fix my laptop. He (Joe) has a small PC fix-it business near my town in Western Massachusetts. Joe is from Ghana. I was asking him about life there. He said, “People are connected to each other there. Here, people are connected to machines.”
When I travel, I spend a lot of time thinking. I have plenty of idol time but I’m not bored. I genuinely feel enriched and more at peace after taking in and reflecting on experiences that are right in front of me – not on my phone. So here is my challenge – to use my devices more sparingly in day to day life (let’s call it a detox). If boredom coaxes me to pick up that phone, I won’t listen, but I won’t ignore it. I’ll revel in my boredom. I’ll remember what it feels like so that I can really appreciate those moments when I am truly engaged in life.
Some interesting reads on digital disconnect programs, ideas and options are below. Take a read and disconnect to reconnect.