Unplugged: 24 Blissful Hours without My Beloved Phone

A QUICK DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY USE AFFILIATE LINKS.

The time spent on my phone has officially become unsustainable. It’s often my closest companion all day, never more than an arm’s length away. Like so many bad habits, I don’t even realize what’s happening . . . and then I can only cringe when I see those stark weekly usage reports.

then and now

I did a “digital detox” a couple months back. I’d just finished reading How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life, which culminates in a challenge to give up your phone (or, better, all screens or internet-enabled devices) for 24 hours and had convinced (coerced?) my husband to participate with me. We did a puzzle instead of watching TV and both read more than we might have otherwise.

I could sense that I had benefited from the exercise, but I was also practically counting down the minutes until time was up and I could get my hands back on my phone.

This time, I was participating in the National Day of Unplugging. Inspired by the Jewish Sabbath, a day of rest beginning at sunset on Friday, the day encourages participants to engage in life beyond their devices for 24 hours.

I turned off my phone around 6:30 on Friday, just before my mother-in-law came over. We usually visit over or around the TV: she shares our interest in true crime, and that always sparks interesting conversation related to whatever series or docuseries we’re following.

But this time, we (gasp!) left the TV off. A chat about how everyone’s week was going turned into funny anecdotes from the workplace; mentions of recently read books sparked the retelling of childhood memories. With tea in hand and candles lit, it felt very hygge. We turned toward each other instead of arranging ourselves around the television. And it was lovely!

The rest of my unplugged time felt just as wonderful: listening to vinyl records with Ali; attending a workshop without fear of my phone ringing (or temptation to check it under the table); running my errands on foot, spending the time outside feeling untethered to any schedule or route; reading a book on the couch in silence.

I actually found myself a little reluctant to re-engage, to open myself back up to the inbox, to dinging notifications, to the compulsion to scroll through feeds.

While I don’t think I’m ready to be unplugged a full day every week, I’m setting a goal to try it for an hour each day. I often spend that much or more reading, but still find myself reacting to each vibration or choosing to pick up my phone to look up a word . . . and then losing track of time or purpose as I get sucked into one app or another.

It’s kind of unnerving to realize how reliant we’ve become on having a tiny powerful computer in our pocket. But I appreciate the resistance I’m seeing in so many circles: setting aside time away from phones, being less reactive and more proactive in how technology is used, not being so afraid to just unplug for a bit.

Have you tried a digital detox? Is unplugging part of your regular routine? Tell me what’s working for you!

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