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Why I sucked at going offline

So, last week I attempted to detach from digital media. And guess what? I failed. Miserably. This was mainly due to work, which, although supposed to finish on Friday, lingered on throughout the week. I found it hard to say no to clients who needed me, so I didn’t. I said yes.

Also, I realised the impossibly huge variety of things I do online on a daily basis:

  • Check my bank account.
  • Google Map the directions to somewhere.
  • Track my runs on Nike+.
  • Look up recipes.
  • Order big things online. (We don’t have a car.)
  • Skype with my mum and dad so they can see their grandson.
  • Check cinema times.
  • Check train times.
  • Download TV programs from Apple TV. (We don’t have a telly.)
  • Download music to iTunes. (We don’t have a stereo.)
  • Google just about everything from names of movies stars to obtuse words to life questions.
  • Waste hours lusting after things on etsy.

And that list above doesn’t even include contacting friends via Hotmail and Facebook. I’m a terrible call screener, and not much of a one for lengthy phone calls, (I lose my mobile phone with alarming regularity) so the digital detox also equated to a friends and parents detox. Rather hard – especially as I now live in the back of beyond.

Life gets in the way

This week I also had to register for the half marathon, respond to a rather cool film director who’s interesting in optioning my play SushiWushiWoo, make edits to my play ‘Oliver (with a) Twist’ and book a couple of hotels.

I did, however, restrain from posting on Facebook or Twitter, or commenting on others’ posts, and that gave some respite. The lack of pressure to think of funny things to say was a relief. It also made me realise how inane the stuff I usually post truly is.

But I missed it. I missed telling people about my life – other than my son (responds in gobbledygook), the dog (responds with vigorous licking) and husband (grunts). I missed having the highs and lows of my vacuous little life commented on by others. Is that sad? Probably, but at least I’m honest.


There were, however, a few good things that came out of the week. By deprioritising digital stuff and ignoring all but the most important emails, I was able to get out more. Instead of spending the morning on the laptop, I went for a run (I’ve done about 30k this week), made a cardboard house for my son, cooked three proper meals, gave the house a spring clean and went to the cinema twice.

I’ve also lost that slightly anxious feeling that Facebook and Twitter gave me. I don’t feel the need to be ‘there’ all the bleeding time.

In summary

It’s clear, however, that all things digital are totally woven into the tapestry of my life. It’s my job, for starters. How can I claim to be a web monkey if I’m not regularly fiddling with my digital bananas? The only way I’ll ever truly detach is if I also take a break from everyday life and hole up in a hut somewhere in the woods, and that ain’t going to happen any time soon.

More importantly, I realised that I like it. I like the digital world. Instead of feeling bad about the time I spend on the interweb, I’m going to rejoice that EVERYTHING is easier to do online than in any other way; that instead of cutting me off from the world, it connects me; that instead of wasting time, it saves me time.

So, in summary, my digital detox fail has been enlightening. Will I try it again? Possibly. Maybe. One day. Maybe not.

Have you tried a digital detox? How did it go? Any tips?

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