I can give it up any time I choose.
The Wi-Fi that is. I just need to check this one email – OK, I confess, I am an internet junkie – but going offline for just a few hours a day has brought me to my senses. The search for free wi-fi can’t compete with a life that’s wi-fi free.
Four days at my sister’s in the Irish countryside was going to be a welcome internet detox. I needed to decompress. Too many emails, social media updates and text messages were part of the problem.
Here’s what I discovered.
To Disconnect is to Reconnect.
You cannot be fully present with the company you’re in if you’re online doing something else. We all know this and yet like the smoker in the room we are tolerated as we drag on our devices. We all pick up our phones the moment our dinner partner nips to the loo, in case we’ve missed something in the twenty minutes since we both sat down to eat. Yet the company of family and friends is a real pleasure a thousand times more involving than its Facebook facsimile. Be in the room.
Be Creative not Reactive
I have to be in my own head in order to write, I have to be present to myself and open to ideas that come from inside. I cannot do that if I am constantly taking in (useless) information off a screen. Ten out of eleven emails are not from real people but junk, a flotsam and jetsam of PR, petitions and the dreaded Reply Alls. After three days in the country with no e-spam clogging up my brain, I woke with a head full of ideas for my new script, eager to write them down. Of course I did that on my phone…
Go for a walk somewhere green. It relaxes you, creates mental space, and visual inspiration. Borrow a dog if you can. The act of walking is a form of meditation and I often work out story problems when away from my desk. Being outside takes you away from your workspace and creates room to think – but only if you turn off your phone …
Walk Away from the Phone!
I was sleeping much better when I wasn’t online til midnight or checking my phone as soon as I woke up. I started turning my phone off or leaving it in another room to avoid checking it. When I did check, I hadn’t missed anything, and could deal with my small batch of emails more quickly. I wasn’t constantly being interrupted by that inbox buzz that you answer only to find a lone email mosquito in wait. The smartphone is a tool, not a tagging device so walk away while you still can.
Enjoy Real Life
Drinking prosecco with my sister, playing pool with my nephew and niece, cuddling a dog or tickling a kitten are real and lovely pleasures. Don’t downgrade your real life in favour of a virtual one. Now I’m back in London, I still wake up and check my phone – back on the electronic hamster wheel – but I’ve resolved to jump off it more and explore my (real) world.
It’s great to feel ‘connected’ but we need to look at what that word really means – to reach out and touch. Doesn’t that sound better than ‘going online’?