According to a study by the World Economic Forum, digital media users often spend more hours online than they sleep, yet only half believe it improves their quality of life. Not only is increased in screen time found to not improve our quality of life significantly, but it is also found to be tightly correlated with stress, vulnerability to addictive behaviors, and a decline in physical activity.
You can read more statistics on digital use and mental wellness from the Happiness Hack book (highly recommended).
These stats, however, are no longer shocking. It is evident our addiction to our screens and technology is costing us our physiological and psychological health. As a response to the invasive and costly nature of digital addiction, various movements have sprung across the globe to motivate us to build a positive relationship with our digital lives.
The National Day of Unplugging is such a movement dedicated to a 24-hour long digital sabbatical to unplug, unwind, relax and do things other than using today’s technology, electronics, and social media.
On Friday, March 1st at 7:00pm, I unplugged for the first time in a very very long time by putting away all my electronic devices* for a 24-hour period.
When your phone buzzes or a notification pops up your screen, do you stop what you’re doing to look and respond? Do you have multiple devices constantly competing for your attention at all times? Do you find it hard to sit still for a bit without checking your phone or social media feeds? Have you been looking for ideas to unplug, without having to depend on sheer willpower followed by pure defeat?
If so, you can take the pledge to participate in this year’s National Day of Unplugging, a 24 hour global respite from technology. After taking the pledge, you can finally put all your electronic devices in a 16-digits-password-protected safe and throw it across the Atlantic ocean to finally have an uninterrupted board game night with your loved ones.
My introduction to the NoSurf community, ironically, happened as I was mindlessly browsing through Reddit, my favorite guilty pleasure, and stumbled upon the NoSurf subreddit, a community for people who want to become more productive by wasting less time mindlessly surfing the internet.
The NoSurf movement does not advocate for quitting the internet altogether. Instead, they advocate for cutting out negative internet use and mindless browsing.
After all, the internet and our digital devices are very valuable tools when used with purpose. I am forever in awe of the amount of information and knowledge available to me online, regarding any topic that might pique my interest, at a click of a button and within literal seconds.
That is indeed powerful.
However, our smartphones, social media accounts, streaming sites, and inboxes are intentionally designed to hijack our brain’s natural reward system, and our brain sees the internet as an easy pathway to trigger happy feelings.This hijacking is costing us our motivation and creativity, as we spend more and more time mindlessly browsing in a zombie-like state.
When your reward system is tuned to expect easy rewards from vicarious onscreen pleasures, why pursue difficult, messy real-world achievements?
If we used our phones more like a hammer, would our life be a lot better? At least, according to the musical genius himself,
Look at your phone as a tool, not an obligation. Would you walk around with a hammer in your pocket?You would pick up a hammer when you needed it. You would never be addicted or obligated to it.Use your phone like a hammer only pick it up when you need it. — Kanye West
It is a bit of very good advice.
I still use the iPhone 5SE I purchased almost three years ago that has been begging to be put out of its misery for quite some time now. I chuckle a bit inside whenever I drop it and everyone around me gasps in terror. It is so old that I couldn’t care less. It is almost ridiculous how often I drop it from various heights and angels, and it, somehow, has refused to break and end its own misery.
My dad has joked that Apple might have a trophy for me for managing to still use such an old iPhone model, and for how beat up it is while still managing to work. If they do, please contact me here.
Writing is a very therapeutic and self-reflecting practice for me that allows me to learn a lot more about myself.
Until I started my research for this article, I did not know there were, in fact, plenty of blog posts, articles and even peer-reviewed journals out there on the phenomenon of texting anxiety. Although I didn’t feel I was entirely alone in suffering from texting anxiety, I didn’t think the problem was relevant enough to grant clinical terms, such as textiety and textaphrenia.
Textiety refers to the anxious feeling one gets from not receiving or sending text messages.
Text messaging is an essential part of communication that is a quick and convenient method to stay connected with our friends, family, and acquaintances. Despite being a useful mode of communication, the expectation to be reachable and responsive 24/7, literally, can be very stressful and overwhelming to some.
Mental health professionals are starting to see anxiety around texting show up in their offices more often, and it’s part of a new area of research and treatment related to mobile devices and online communication.