Digitized engagement is the norm. Whether we are talking with faceless strangers about our favorite shows or debating politics, the digital world is an extension of your many views. It's a seemingly unstoppable stream of thoughts in real time; we read something, say something, hear something back from others. With little time for processing, there's exhaustion, naturally. After the U.S. election in 2016, many constantly checked their phones thinking, "What now?" This is why a digital detox in our political climate is critical. Constant digital engagement, like anything else, affects and hinders our ability to engage more meaningfully.
Some are critical of a virtual sabbath and might even opine that it's akin to becoming apathetic. But a digital detox should not be confused with indifference. Switching off does not mean one is no longer concerned with his or her environment and all that's happening within it. Refusing to be constantly plugged in does not mean you're unable engage with your surroundings. In fact, many switch off digitally to switch on in person; by physically showing up for causes, helping with grassroots initiatives, and offering their own presence at demonstrations — these are some of the many viable ways you can still be politically active without being digitally tethered to your devices.
Here are 30 reasons why it's more than OK to switch off for a bit in a tumultuous political era. Try doing it in small doses of one hour before bedtime or, if you're really looking for a radical change and your job isn't reliant on the internet, a 30-day digital detox is said to be truly beneficial.
1. To Let Your Brain Breathe
Being connected at all times often leads to a dearth of time meant for contemplation. Our brains need a moment to process information. Let the powerhouse of your body take a second by stepping away from your phone.
2. To Reclaim Your Time
Precious time is spent online sifting through websites, hopping from app to app, taking in everything that is happening. And while it is important to be in the know — especially given the rapid developments taking place in the American political arena — it is also crucial to switch off, reclaim your time, and conserve energy for better and more impactful engagement that can change society for better.
3. To Give Your Hand A Break
You might think a mobile device is part of human anatomy by now considering how perennially it remains in our hands. Put your phone away and try to navigate the world without notifications buzzing in your palm.
4. To Fight Against "Threat Vigilance"
In the New York Times, neuroscientist Orfeu M. Buxton says that the presence of a smartphone in the bedroom may cause what he calls "threat vigilance." He categorizes this as a kind of anxiety that inhibits you from sleeping because you're never truly disconnected from your device. It's why it's good to make your smartphone sleep away from your bed. Like the dressing table.
5. To Fight Against Insomnia
Around 90 percent of Americans use some kind of device right before bed, according to Harvard Medical School professor Charles Czeisler in The Atlantic. These Americans, according to his study, mentioned poor and inconsistent sleep. Czeisler says the lack of a healthy circadian rhythm points to overstimulation and specific light transmissions from devices. Smartphones emit a certain blue light that affects our production of melatonin, a hormone that naturally regulates our sleeping rhythms, by telling us to remain alert at all times. Czeisler says this overstimulation carries "long-term consequences" on our health and should be critically evaluated.
6. To Tell Your Apps You're The Boss
There's a Black Mirror episode called "Nosedive" that perfectly captures our digital culture of wanting instant and constant validation, leading to a loss of our own personality simply because we want to be liked so badly. A study conducted by the University of Michigan explores how social media may be worsening our narcissism. A digital detox is a great way of reclaiming your sense of self by prioritizing your well-being above social approval.
7. To Connect Elsewhere
A digital detox can help you with connecting with things you may have left on the back burner while being immersed online. It's a great time to put your phone away and focus on things you may have been ignoring, including little yet meaningful activities like stepping outside for fresh air or taking a walk to cleanse your mind of too much stimuli.
8. To Talk In Person
Shutting yourself away from in-person interactions can effectively sequester yourself from conversations with other people offline. A digital detox is an invigorating way to work on social skills like engaging with people in person. Know a friend you haven't met in a while? Strike some time with them. It's a refreshing way to share notes beyond the virtual world.
9. To Break Reward Cycles
We open our phones and we check for notifications on emails, tweets, and comments. We anticipate engagement at all times because we ourselves are engaged at all times. It's an exhausting cycle of expecting, checking, and responding. A sabbath meant for the digital world can help us break that cyclical obsession with likes and notes.
10. To Analyze Your Dependence
Once you've taken a step away from your smartphone and laptop, you have a more objective and less subjective understanding of how intensely you're connected to these devices. Take a digital detox to see how dependent you are on these things. It's a good time to evaluate your reliance and cut back on it.
11. To Create An Assertive Relationship With Your Device
Many of us have jobs, particularly in the media, that are inherently connected to the digital world and social networks. And while it's important for many of us to remain aware of what's going on, especially considering how volatile this administration is, it's also critical to maintain a schedule that allows us some room to breathe. Depending on your work routine, allot yourself a few hours during which you have nothing to do with the world wide web and the jungle of apps.
12. To Challenge Yourself
Sharpen yourself by challenging yourself to a detox. It's never easy and that's the best part. A detox like this one can help you develop more independence and confidence in yourself. It's an effective way of breaking a habit and creating a healthier schedule.
13. To Eat In Peace
Digital Detox ...Resisting the urge to type, text, and post is no small feat. https://t.co/tsdsb0lDog— Kelowna Branch RJL (@KelownaBranchRJ) March 19, 2017
This one reason might get slammed for being on the nose but when was the last time you ate without swiping your phone open to see who said what and when? Take a moment to enjoy your breakfast in calm silence without plunging into the depths of a comment section.
14. To Think Of More Ways To Politically Engage
Why Richard Branson's company is making employees take a 'digital detox' https://t.co/ZHyILSfk7n— tech&politics (@tech_politics) September 29, 2016
After Trump's victory, many people — especially newcomers to the world of politics — want to contribute to society and civic engagement. By disconnecting from your devices, you can find ways to engage with local politics on an even more native and connected level.
15. To Remember That Not Everyone Is On Their Phones
Millennials are, arguably, the generation that grew up on the internet. A digital detox can be a great way to remind oneself that not everyone remains tethered to their smartphones and laptops.
16. To Calm Yourself
Considering the developments that have taken place since Trump took office in January, it's natural that there are feelings of uncertainty and fear. Checking your phone may not exactly alleviate that anxiety. Take a moment to breathe away from the cacophony of news and more news, so that when you return to your device, you're calmer and more able to process what's going on.
17. To Log Your Thoughts Away From The Web
Silly digital detox cartoon for August, folks. Passion, politics and peace to you all. pic.twitter.com/KKOYebAF2E— Dr Jay Watts (@Shrink_at_Large) August 4, 2016
While social media is a great way to air our opinions and get feedback, it's also tricky: Everything we say and do leaves a digital footprint. Make some time away from this world to write your thoughts in private. Sometimes you don't need an audience.
18. To Do It With Someone Else
If totally unplugging is freaking you out, hand your phone to someone who can be a Phone Watcher (you could take turns on this)— andrea grimes (@andreagrimes) February 1, 2017
We're more likely to follow up on a workout regimen if we have a partner. Similarly, a detox is a great way to connect with someone else on the subject of disconnecting. Have a friend join you in this journey and hold each other accountable.
19. To Know What Your Bed's For
Remember how your mom said no eating in bed? Just like that, a digital detox is a great way to remember that the bed is for relaxing and getting some shut-eye.
20. To See What's Missing
Hyper-connectivity with our devices can potentially lead to us ignoring other important aspects of our lives, including our relationships with others. Take this time to see what you may have been ignoring. Reach out to friends and family members. Do something meaningful for someone without accepting a reward.
21. To Handle Compassion Fatigue
Compassion fatigue is real. It's commendable and necessary to feel empathy for others in order to make society progressively inhabitable for all. However, constantly remaining on our phones, inundated with images of suffering of others, is not the most effective way to bring change. In fact, it can lead to feelings of misery and stagnation. A detox can help us orient ourselves and find ways to help others without draining ourselves of necessary energy.
22. To Diversify Your Perspectives
Echo chambers, be they online or offline, are inevitable when we surround ourselves with people who sound similar to us and think in approximation to what we believe. A detox is a great method to reach out to those who disagree with us and find common ground through dialogue. In our particularly polarized country, a detox can be helpful to understand differences and find a way to go forward — together — by stepping away from like-minded communities and trying to find commonalities with opposing parties.
23. To Improve Your Attention Span
The effect of constant digital engagement has led to dramatically decreased attention spans, according to study from Microsoft reported in in Time. To put it in simple words, we lose concentration after eight seconds. Although we can multi-task, we find it impossibly hard to push past pointless stimuli. A break from the internet and apps, even if it is for an hour before bed, can help in tackling distraction and reclaiming the ability to focus. In a country where the president's tweets are constantly creating online chatter, it's a good way to focus on the bigger picture: where the Trump administration is headed.
24. To Effectively Mobilize
Constant distraction from apps means you're less likely to come up with a political plan to tackle the administration's controversial stances on a variety of things, including reproductive rights, health care plans, and much more. Connect with people offline and see how you can create a plan to politically mobilize without heavily relying on the internet.
25. To Grant Yourself The Time To Heal
Trump's presidency has left many questioning their safety and place in the fabric of American society. By remaining online at all times, you're more likely to be flooded with news that is disconcerting and unlikely to help you find ways to assert yourself. While many are learning more and more about their rights through online activism — which is crucial — there's a chance one feels bruised by the chaos. Stepping away from your timeline is a good way to take the time to breathe and return stronger.
26. To Manage Real-Time Conversations
Real-time messaging apps tend to carry an implicit message, "Reply immediately." With "seen" notifications embedded in Facebook Messenger, we feel an unspoken demand that tells us to respond as soon as possible. A detox can help us with managing that tiring expectation. Reserve certain times of the day, with the exception of an emergency, where you simply do not respond.
27. To Find New Hobbies
Surfing online kills time, undoubtedly, but it also takes us away from other hobbies that can be much more meaningful and invigorating. Instead of relying on websites and apps to pass time, find an activity that helps to take your mind off the world of politics without limiting yourself to the digital world.
28. To Boost Productivity
People are much likelier to boost their productivity if they take breaks from their computers, according to a study in the Cornell Chronicle. For those wanting to be more politically productive in their fight for equality for all, this is a good reminder to take on a cleanse from apps and websites.
29. To Reduce Your Digital Footprint
As it becomes clearer that your social media is likely to be subjected to checks at the border, this is a good time to reduce your footprint online. Social media searches aren't new but our dependence on social media has led to us plastering our lives online, exposing us to a lack of privacy that can be dangerous. This is an apt moment to reconsider broadcasting our lives online.
30. To Know There's A World Beyond The Wide Web
It's easy to think the internet is the only world we know when we jump from one app to another, comment on one thread and up-vote the other. But there's a world beyond our screens, and it's a world that deserves attention and input. The internet and the physical world aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but it's easy to lose oneself in the rabbit hole that is the world of social networks and media websites.
Many can't do a full detox as some jobs, especially media-related ones, are linked with the online world of news and updates. Still, it's possible to step away from phones and laptops even if it is for an hour right before bed. This will help you in taking time to breathe and focus on regaining your energy after a long day of stimuli. Tell your friends and family you're unreachable during a certain time and have them specifically call you in case there is an emergency. Once you've had a wholesome night of sleep without the buzz-buzz of notifications, you'll feel more ready to take the world on the next morning.