My 30 Day Digital Detox

I’ve started the new year feeling like a gosh dang ninja. I don’t know if it’s the vitamin or podcast consumption, but I’m PUMPED. My current goal is to learn to treat myself as my most valuable asset. I am making health a top priority, adapting to a more minimalistic lifestyle, attempting to live in gratitude, optimizing how I spend my time, and, last but not least, I’m refocusing on improving myself via continued learning, creative writing, and critical reading. Don’t get me wrong, I am the type of ninja that still sets down my mental Nunchucks and vegitates on the couch after work like a log for hours watching Father Brown. British Mysteries are my kryptonite.

In the spirit of my spiritual “reset,” I’m also undertaking a thirty day “Digital Detox” from social media after listening to an interview with Cal Newport and reading his book: “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.” My goals for the detox are to 1. To break the habit of picking up my phone and checking updates and social media, and watching endless videos of puppies being REAL cute. 2. To be more intentional with how I’m spending time. And, 3. To re-establish how I choose to interact with social media. As suggested by Cal Newport, we have to continually ask ourselves if how we are spending our time is bringing us closer or farther away from the person we want to become. After I lose the habit, I want to create boundaries and limit my interaction with most social medial. I also thought this would be an interesting blog post for February, which will further hold me accountable each day. Plus, it might inspire others to take the leap for 30 days!

Note: My Mom and my sister are joining me on the challenge, so I’ll be checking in with their progress as well.

Day 1: 1/11/20 This was the day of my Uncle Tory’s memorial service, so I kept my phone in another room and spent the day visiting with family. I did not delete the apps from my phone. I found myself wanting to post the pictures I took of my family on Instagram, but other than that, no major issues with refraining. We spent the day eating gumbo, playing music, and telling stories with my cousins.

Day 2: 1/12/20 This morning I did catch myself wanting to open Instagram. I opened it and closed it out of habit quite a few times. I spent the day cleaning, reading, writing, and I even got in 36 minutes of a workout. My sister, who deleted her apps from her phone on Day 1, said she picked up her phone a few times out of habit. My Mom said, “Ummmm, yeah, I failed.” She made it to 5:30 PM on Day 2. My Mom also wouldn’t allow her “Distraction Data” to be seen or posted.

Ashlynn – Distraction Data

Sara – Distraction Data

Day 3: 1/13/2020 Today my sister Sara asked if Pinterest is considered social media because she has been looking up recipes as well as researching my future sister–in-law’s wedding board. We agreed it is definitely social media, but we decided it can be used for gathering recipes if the time is limited, and there is no mindless perusing.

Days 4-5: 1/14 and 1/15 The last few days have been exceptionally busy, but I do miss my daily dose of LinkedIn. As of yesterday afternoon, I’m also rocking red hair, so I missed out on posting the obligatory, “Look at my new hair post.” A tomato and carrot mixed = the color. I have been picking up my phone more. I pick it up, and put it down once I realize what I’m doing.

Days 6-7: 1/16 and 1/17 Yesterday I had a lovely solo dinner after work at one of my favorite Houston haunts -Liberty Kitchen on Studewood. I usually use my phone as a back-up if I don’t meet someone interesting to chat with or if Micah, my longtime bartender friend, isn’t there. Luckily, I met a father and son duo (Hi, Pat and Landon), and we had a great conversation about books, plays, food, and, social media. Landon said he has a problem too. We looked around at those at the bar, and there were probably seven people engaged with their phone rather than with their neighbor or guest. Tonight I’m visiting with a good friend that I haven’t seen in a while. Human connections for the win!

Days 8-9: 1/18 and 1/19 Saturday night I had two of my long-time bff’s over, Celine and Bruce. They have known me for over 15 years at this point. Celine and I looked at pictures and talked about her recent trip home to France while Bruce was mentally preparing for the Houston Marathon (he was running the half, saving his energy for Boston!) I spent the morning cleaning, reading, and shopping for spaghetti supplies. Ended the day with red wine (Becker Vineyards!) and an early night. On Sunday, my sister relayed that she had worked out 6 of the past 7 days and had begun a no-carb diet. She also said she had been cleaning her house and spending more time with her kids. Looks like we are moving in the right direction! I still pick up my phone WAY too much. And, I have been texting quite a bit.

Days 10-16: 1/20 through 1/26 It’s been 15 days of no social media. I’m to the point now where I am not missing the platforms. My sister too. We both feel that there is no going back to the way we previously interacted with social media. My sister has started working out every day. She says she feels happier. I am less like a zombie when I have my phone with me, but I don’t feel completely unplugged as I still use and pick up my phone too much.

Days 17-23: 1/27 to 2/3 This weekend, I feel like I cheated a little bit. I did scroll a news feed on my phone for an hour. It was as mindless as my typical social media binge, so I am confessing. I know my distraction data at the end will now reflect this relapse. I do feel a little bothered by the fact that I’m missing out on certain social activities because many of my friends create invites only on the Facebook platform. I missed one of my best friend’s little girl’s birthday parties. I missed a memorial service of an old friend. This is the collateral damage of not being connected- though, overall, I feel more productive and happy.

Days 24-27: 2/4 to 2/7 Yesterday was the HARDEST day to avoid an Instagram post. Why, you ask? Well, one of my marketing clients had a freaking pony. It hung out with us in the house. It also goes on walks and car rides like a dog. So I basically got paid today to feed a pony carrots and bread. Adding the image here because you need to see them. I also told my husband to add pony to the Valentine’s list. This week my older brother was in town, so we hit an amazing sushi restaurant. It’s possible that less social media = more glasses of red wine, but I’ll have to continue compiling research on that.

Days 28-30: 2/8 to 2/10 Well, I’ve officially made it. ::ring all the bells:: 30 days of no social media. This weekend, however, I wish I would have been a little more digital. I felt the pain of not having a phone near me. On Saturday, I was enjoying a lovely day on blanket in the sunshine, taking a nap on the grass in the backyard with the dog. Unfortunately, my husband left for a BBQ and accidentally locked me in the backyard. I had no phone. I don’t know my neighbors. I hopped the fence, knocked on a neighbor’s door to use the phone, only to realize I also don’t know my own husband’s phone number by memory. Fail. So, I called my Mom and my best friend. No answer. No answer. I left a frantic text message with my best friend, and then hoped for the best as the neighbors were leaving. I decided at sunset I would break a small window with a pipe I found. Luckily, my husband rescued me just in time, two hours later. It was quite the adventure. I’m not going to lie when I say, the end of the thirty days doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything too major. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling funky today. Maybe it’s because I simply replaced the social media browsing with “News” browsing this past week (and there was nothing good to see there!). Despite the fact that I did not get on social media AT ALL in 30 days, my screen time remained similar to before the detox. However, one thing that I did find kind of weird based on this little experiment: when my phone was inactive, at 6 a.m. specifically, my phone visited many sites that I don’t have a clue about. I even tried to set limits on those exact sites, and to no avail, my phone would visit them. I even tried clearing history, resetting the phone. I must have some hardcore cookies stored somewhere that I can’t escape from. Here is the end data. Nothing too exciting to see here. In fact, turn your head.

Ashlynn – Distraction Data

Sara – Distraction Data

Takeaways

Ashlynn: For me, even though I still picked up my phone and socialized on our family group chat more often, I consider this detox a win. I’m not going to totally rid myself of social media, but I will set limits for it in the future. I still have some work to do in terms of using my phone as a tool rather than a crutch.

Sara: I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m happier. I don’t compare myself to others multiple times a day anymore. Everyone posts their “best” – so, before, I believed everyone’s life was perfect, and I was doing something wrong. I know everyone is struggling in some way and they may too have a messy life, but you don’t see that. I could be on day three of “low days” with Aaron, dirty floors, fighting kids, bills while “Miss Molly” is backpacking in New Zealand with her family of five. Post-detox I’ve been working out, so I’m sure that that too has helped me regain confidence in myself. I also enjoy that I haven’t started any conversations with “Did you see on Facebook..” I’ve had more time to get things done at home, and my next challenge will be decluttering!