The 6 stages of a digital detox

In a world where we are seemingly ruled by all things technological, it can be a tricky feat to remove yourself from ubiquitous digital distractions. Saying that, if you’re heading off on your travels, this can often prompt unexpected digital detoxes of varying proportions. It is a process that involves numerous stages – a veritable whirlwind of emotion if you like. However, it’s a detox whose results may leave you feeling pleasantly surprised…

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1. Horror

You’ve just boarded your flight and are nestling into your seat when the realisation hits. It smacks you cold and fast like a flying ice cream cone to the face. It all kicks off the second they announce those immortal words: “Please turn your phone to Flight Mode”. Yep, it has just occurred to you that you haven’t prepped your phone for when you land in that distant place on the other side of the world.

The fundamentals of data roaming are unclear to you – if you click it on, what exactly does that mean? Will you rack up a hefty bill without noticing by the time you’ve finished your trip? What are those data package messages all about when you land? Are they legit? Will they all add up cost wise too? The fear of the unknown expense troubles you and you silently curse yourself for not doing more research into this prior to your trip. But then again, you were pretty busy looking up cat pictures on Instagram. Now it’s too late. The plane is soaring off the runway and you are currently both network-less and internet-less. Your phone is rendered useless and you quietly shed a tear upon your in-flight meal.

2. Panic

You arrive at your destination and make your way to your accommodation. As you journey there, you reassure yourself that everything will be alright, that there’s bound to be WiFi waiting for you on arrival. It won’t be long before you can promptly resuscitate your lifeless phone. Soon, you tell yourself, soon you will be able to catch up with all those mundane activities that your peers and random celebrities have been dispersing across social media during the 18-hour limbo you were in Flight Mode.

The accommodation alerts you that there is no WiFi. You aren’t staying in a hotel, but in the middle of nowhere in South East Asia. This should have been expected, but then again you have come to take the abundance of WiFi available in your day-to-day life somewhat for granted. Now this familiar friend is gone and you didn’t have a chance to say a proper goodbye. Worse still, how on earth are you going to send a Snapchat with a geofilter tag of your holiday location to your friends now? Panic starts to set it.

3. Denial

You kick off your holiday’s excursions and try to put to the back of your mind the fact that it’s been more than 24 hours since you last encountered a computer screen. Still, you find yourself impulsively checking your phone for messages and subconsciously keep swiping your finger across your tour book as if it were an iPad. Cue many a paper cut.

But it’s cool, you tell yourself. You can make this work sans digitale. You keep your chin up and confidentially jump on board that day trip. You step out of your accommodation and within the first five minutes, you are lost. You reach for your phone to whip out Google Maps in the vain hope that it miraculously will be back in action. Alas, this isn’t the case. You are forced to resort to an old-school map, which you realise you have no idea how to read.

4. Frustration

You have overcome your lost state due to friendly fellow travellers assisting you in your navigation and you are now fully in the throes of being the ultimate tourist. As you visit the local wonders, the urge to take a cacophony of photographs is irresistible. After all, there is quality Instagram fodder left, right and centre.

Indeed, you find yourself having racked up an impressive bank of images of yourself frolicking on white sandy beaches clutching a cocktail, completely unbeknownst to the rest of the world. It is frustrating the hell out of you that you can’t share them. After all, how will the rest of the world know how great your life is right now without that obligatory Facebook holiday update?

5. Acceptance

It’s now day four of your trip and a strange phenomenon has occurred. You have actually left for the day without your mobile phone. Yes, it is neatly tucked away in your suitcase and weirdly, you are ok with that. Genuinely ok with that.

It’s grown to become a rather heavy weight of practically useless technology to lug around and without it, you suddenly feel a whole lot lighter. You start to see the light at the end of this unexpected digital detox tunnel.

6. Freedom

Without the distraction of the Internet at your fingertips and no longer viewing the world through a camera phone, you are suddenly seeing the world very differently. As you journey to spectacular locations on your trip – from beaches to jungles to mountains – you feel like you are really seeing and experiencing them. You find yourself living in the moment and taking a few extra minutes to truly take it all in.

You realise you are actually making a whole lot more meaningful memories rather than a bunch of badly shot pictures that can be instantly deleted at the touch of a button. As a result, you feel remarkably free as you continue on your adventure.

The burning question is, will the temptation of digital distraction be all too great on your return? The answer is… probably. But hey, at least you know you’ll survive if you forget your phone on the bus one day!



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