I can’t help but being inspired by people making brave choices and taking a more challenging route through life, which holds more rewards. Especially when they are just 17.5 years old (at time of writing). I just read Corey Simon’s article on what happened when he deleted his social media and come away convinced that I have been wrong.
Wrong about having the latest iPhone, because I don’t need to be connected and take pictures of my kids all the time, while looking cool with the latest fondleslap in my pocket.
Wrong to be posting rants and raves into the darkness of social media and the Internet in general because it makes me look like a dick and solves zero things.
Wrong to worry about the flimsy digital world I call home and the effect unknown people and their bots have on my mental health.
So let’s detox. It’s a thing according to lifestyle and health gurus on social media don’t you know.
Step 1: Stop buying a big screen smart phone
Buy a feature phone or something simpler like a cool Nokia 3310. Need emails? Why? If it’s urgent get a text alert (use Zapier etc if your providers don’t support SMS directly and hook it up yourself).
Need to read? Great, let’s get a Kindle or other ebook reader. It’s better for your eyes anyway! I have just read the Frontline series on my iPhone 7plus and am concerned I may have just taken 10yrs of my eye sight – great books though.
Need to watch videos? Why not get a tablet instead. It doesn’t need to be connected 24/7 and is way cheaper, especially picking up a recent model from a second hand place like CEX or ebay.
But photos! Yep, I hear you. One of the main reasons I <3 the iPhone 7plus is because I can always be close to the moment and document my kids growing up in 4k. But I also miss being in the moment and while I realise how cheesy this sounds, it’s valid. You need to be consciously and somewhat focussed on the moment to form a meaningful memory. If you are focussed on capturing it instead, you may not get the full dose of the moment. Get a small, compact camera instead. Some come with wifi and even 4k video. The lenses are way better than the best iPhone anyway.
But writing! Yeah, the irony is apparent to me while I hack away at the tiny keyboard on my iPhone at 10,000 feet flying above the European countryside. My handwriting sucks, so a keyboard is a must have for me. I used to have an iPad with an external keyboard and remember it to be very good for times like this or at softplay. My mum only has an iPad and keyboard now and does all her things on it without wanting her PC back.
And yes, you could end up carrying more with you. But that’s the point.
Step 2: Carry less stuff around
I don’t take my laptop unless I am away for longer periods but even this recent short break I am flying home from has shown that I shouldn’t have bothered. My phone was barely used either apart from taking photos and writing this. And yes, often getting drawn into emails, social media and news.
A smaller phone and nice compact camera would have done better, had super long battery life by comparison and an iPad would have been a more enjoyable experience typing and organising my photos. A kindle would have meant more enjoyment reading.
No laptop needed and no need to carry an ipad everywhere either. When I do take my phone, all I spend time on is: social media, email and news.
All this is somewhat defeating the point of relaxing and spending time with my offspring.
The reason not to carry a smart phone with you everywhere is simple: you stop the urge to check messages, social media and worry about Trump blowing up the world.
Carry only the things you need as you need them and do more of what matters and be less distracted of what doesn’t. A fondleslap can do all the things and is convenient but it’s also having enough downsides to make me want to ditch it.
Step 3: Become more conscious
Not in the esoteric or metaphysical sense but by actually focussing your mind to be in the moment. Right now.
I had a moment earlier today when I forced myself to resist the urge to get the phone out and take a picture of a beautiful setting with my kids to just enjoy it. Right there and then.
The smell, the noise, the warm sun and light breeze on my skin.
Watching my kids enjoying themselves in relative peace and tranquility of a centrally located park and lake in the medium sized metropolis that is Hannover, made me actually feel happy.
Step 4: Be less available online
I live online. My work and my personal life mean I am constantly on Signal, email or Twitter. I resent Facebook and Instagram but am still somewhat active because everyone is on it – all my friends and family.
I also get calls online and messages from people who either want things professionally or personal stuff. It’s instant so you instantly feel like replying, even when you are in the middle of something else.
Frak that. If it is urgent: call me or text. Otherwise, it’ll get done when I am ready and my schedule says I will focus on it. You’ll appreciate it more too for sure because I have more time to read, understand and reply than rush it.
Make the things you do better by not rushing them and slow down.
Step 5: Read and write more
No, really. Reading, even fiction, is a great way unwind, let your imagination go wild and stretch your legs. Oh, and you probably learn new things too.
Writing on the other hand helps form memories and is a fabulous way to express emotion, share ideas and connect with others.
I have found many a blog or Medium publication by people who just wrote to share their thoughts and experiences. Not for money or to market something but to simply share part of their life.
Instead of social media, this takes more effort and your mutterings may remain unread by the Internet at large but instead of chasing likes and reposts, you get a bigger, longer-lasting buzz by writing. Whether it is a short post about something on your mind or a syfy mini serial. It’s great fun and you should give it a go.
Step 6: Don’t forget to switch it off
I left my phone at home for a night out with my friends, what happened next will astound you.
Nothing. Nothing happened. We sat, we played games, got merry and shared a lot of laughs. All without even thinking of sharing it on WhatsApp or Snapchatting it.
It felt liberating. It felt better. I felt happier.
So next time you go out with your friends, leave the smart phone at home and relax.
Ideas for smart phone replacements
Nokia 8110 4G £79
Nikon A900 COOLPIX Digital Camera – Black £228
iPad Pro 9.7 (2016) 128GB £285/348
Kindle Paperwhite 3rd Gen (2015) 4GB £69
Also published on Medium.