Exploring  the  practice of Digital Detoxing

Exploring the practice of Digital Detoxing

With Gil Shaham Amit

It’s no secret that we love collaborations, especially with women with whom we share common values. We met Gil almost 2 years ago on a company visit to her permaculture farm - Farmacultura. During the past year Gil has taken on the practice of turning off all technological devices for one evening a week - a Digital Detox, this move is admirable on many levels, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to share with you Gil’s words about the behind the scenes of her weekly practice that is much more than it seems:  

Digital Detox, admit that you’re thinking about it.

It happened that I left him hanging in the middle of the
conversation… I disappeared.
It happened at an important meeting… that I didn’t hear a word of what was finally decided.
It happened that I missed the station at which I was supposed to get off… sometimes twice in the same ride.
It happened that I burned dinner because my mind was still at “work”.
It happened that I parked the car, got out and left it unlocked with the driver door wide open, for the entire night.
It happened, more than once, that my 8-year-old turned and said “mom, you’re always on the phone”.

 

Image by: Ella K. Sverdlov

I think that there are very few personal facts that are difficult for me to share, but, at the top of the list is the amount of time i’m on my phone… It is not something I'm particularly proud of.

My rationalizing, explaining voice jump up “it’s part of my work”, “there is no other option with all the Whatsapp groups today”...

It’s all true… but maybe it’s also hard for me to admit that first and foremost I am also somewhat addicted.  

Or perhaps it’s difficult to accept that simply being in my own company isn’t necessarily an easy or pleasant task for me.

“Digital Detox” is a relatively new phrase that is quickly gaining popularity and is becoming well known in the fields of behavioral and social science, psychology, physiology, anatomy and even in the world of cosmetics.

According to a 2015 study by Deloitt, 59% of participants who own a smartphone, spend the last 5 minutes of their day before falling asleep and the first 30 minutes of their morning after awakening on social media.  

Image by: FarmaCultura

It seems that we are intensely connected to the pretty amazing technological system we hold in the palm of our hands.

Our smartphone has long become much more than a phone, it is our portable office, it is our navigational system, it’s our camara, our fascinating library of content and music, and now it is also our wallet.

I am a self-employed mother of three, I run and grow our incredible, organic (and photogenic) permaculture vegetable farm “Farmacultura”.

Alongside the vegetables I also nourish the farm on social media, plant ideas and harvest the the crops on and off-line, expanding and deepening our networkFarmaculturaing roots.

In all honesty, I have to say that I owe much of our success to the fact that I am constantly “connected” to my smartphone.

However, the “price” of overusing the device was quick to come. A lack of focus, difficulty in time management, neck and thumb pain, emotional stress, and, above all, I've noticed that my ability to stay connected and even maintain eye contact with my surroundings and with my girls, has taken a strain. “Wait, but it’s work” (does this sound familiar?) this became my automatic response every time I took my attention, focus or gaze away from my immediate surroundings.  

That’s when I understood that things are getting a little out of hand, that it is time to set limits. I understood… and then beeeep… a notification…. And where were we? Au, yah, limits.  

Image by: FarmaCultura

One evening at the end of a restorative yoga class, the studio was quiet and there was a crispness in the air, my teacher Sivana Kliger released an almost whispering sentence… “you know what? What if you can stay with this feeling just a little bit longer, what if, just for tonight, you don’t open your phone until tomorrow morning?”... and i knew - here is my sign;  

“Tuesday Digital Detox”

What does a Digital Detox look like?

There are many ways to do a digital detox… yes, it is a DETOX, and yes, the digital “matter” we are consuming is addictive, very addictive. And detoxification, as I am sure you are well aware, (even the very thought of a detox) can awake a certain level of stress and anxiety, not to mention the actual withdrawal symptoms themselves such as: uneasiness, the hearing of phantom notification sounds and beeps, the unconscious sending of a hand towards one’s pocket or drawer, the ongoing stubborn search for a misplaced device, and so on.

Similar to a physical detox or a new diet, I prefer the path that allows me to persevere and helps me feel good. I found that “Tuesday Digital Detox” has become a set and known little ceremony that allows me and my surroundings to grow accustomed to the idea, to prepare, and even wait in anticipation for this weekly ritual.  

I chose not to erase apps from my phone, and not to install apps that limit my screen time, but instead simply turn my phone off once a week - every week.     

Every Tuesday, for almost a year now (my Detoxtbirthday is just around the corner) starting at 6pm until 7am Wednesday morning I am “unavailable”. My smartphone is turned off and tucked away in my sidetabel’s drawer, I am not on the computer and do not watch TV.  

One evening midweek - I make space to be with myself.

If I haven’t said it yet - to be with myself- that is the truly challenging part here, at least in the beginning. Simply “being with ourselves” is like a muscle that we constantly need to work on and strengthen, especially when we lead such a digitally rich lifestyle. If your “self” is curious and eager to spend time with “you” it is an exciting experience, but if your “self” is a little shy, take a good book, pour yourself a nice glass of wine or warm tea, and eventually your “self” will join you. Don’t worry if your “self” shows up a little reluctant or complaining at first… go easy on yourself, it is afterall a detox… come with compassion. I can promise you that every such meeting with the “self” will carry a different teaching and that for those who persevere, it will get much easier and more pleasant.