Digital Detox

The world teaches us that progress is always moving forward, but sometimes taking a step backward is what we really need.

Digital Detox
Photo by Jens Lelie / Unsplash

Sometimes, taking a step backward is the next step forward. It's not fun or easy or exciting, especially when it's someone else's idea. The world teaches us that progress is always moving forward along the same path - doing one more thing, learning one more thing, committing to one more thing - but CS Lewis defined it differently.

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake.

For the last 2 weeks, after realizing we were all spending too much time online, our family did a digital detox. As much as reality would allow it anyway. I'm a programmer and the kids have their online classes, but we still signed out of a lot. It was eye opening for sure, and I've come away from it with a few insights about myself.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I can't count how many times I was about to pull up Twitter or watch a YouTube video to stave off boredom or frustration, or just to fill a few empty moments where I could've closed my eyes and counted my blessings. Things went well overall, but a few times I just couldn't resist checking the news. Not surprisingly, it didn't leave me feeling better or more peaceful.

We're creatures of habit, and even if the habit is hurting us, it's ours and it fills some hole, and that feels good.. for awhile. Even a can of cheez whiz will do what food does and fill an empty belly, but sometimes some thing is worse than no thing. And the silly thing is when we just down another can of cheez whiz (scroll a little more Twitter, pin a few more Pinterest posts, subscribe to another YouTuber) to try and fix the problem.

I think most of us are filling holes of different sizes, and it's unsettling when you start asking yourself why the things that promised to bring you closer to others is separating you from those who are closest, why the things that promised relaxation leave you feeling on edge, and why the things that were going to improve productivity are eating up all your time.

The past 2 weeks were difficult for sure, but even that short time has left me with more resolve. Resolve to define which things are truly serving a purpose, which I can redefine and reshape, and which I can just do without. I plan to write a series of posts about my biggest online time wasters, and what I plan to do about them.