4 things I learned about myself on a digital detox

I recently spent a long weekend without any digital technology, partly in order to understand my relationship with my phone, the Internet and social media, and partly to find out if I could actually do it. It turns out I could, so after some reflection, here are four things I learned about myself and technology:

I am impatient: When I’m at work I can’t even wait the eight seconds it takes to load a webpage on my computer browser before I’m glancing down at my phone again. My attention span is probably at its lowest right now and it’s because I can be constantly ‘entertained’ if I wish (although the debate as to whether it really is entertaining remains).

I fear being alone: Whether I’m waiting at a bus stop or sitting on the Underground, at a dinner table waiting for friends or even on the toilet, I am always looking at my phone. Because being alone in a room and disconnected from anyone, whether they’re right in front of me or at the end of a text message, is utterly unbearable. It’s as if being left alone to think for myself is too much to handle and so I reach for the comfort of my phone to distract me from what might be happening in my head.

I’ve become neurotic: thanks to apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger I know exactly when my friends have been online, what time they read my messages, and I can even see when they’re in the middle of writing their reply. I check in persistently to see who’s ignoring me and immediately start to panic when those little WhatsApp ticks turn blue and I’ve not received a reply. I’m almost certain my blood pressure would be lower without tech.

I am insecure: As a result of the aforementioned feeling of being ignored, I’ve become insecure: Why won’t she reply? Have I said something wrong? Doesn’t he love me anymore? On social media I’m constantly exposed to the “perfect” lives of my peers. I see the successes of others every day (whether it’s a 10k run or a new dream job) and feel bad about myself when I don’t have something similarly triumphant to share. I want to show that I too am excelling in life; in reality we’re all just creating some false facade to hide behind. It’s a destructive thing sometimes, connectivity.

If you find yourself doing or feeling any of the above, I implore you to take a break. Look away from your screen, turn it all off, and embrace the real world for what it is in front of you – not what you want it to be online. My digital detox was part of a feature for RoughGuides.com. You can read the travel feature here >