Can you imagine a life without your devices? No Smartphone. A status update desert. A flightless Twitter bird. The thought alone may be terrifying. Author and Comedian Baratunde Thurston did it – and survived to tell the tale.
The constant digital presence of the self-proclaimed “social media guy,” caused Thurston to hit a point of mental exhaustion.
“What I realized first was how much time I spent trying to think of things to say. Like, what is the caption for this moment of my life?” Thurston said. It was then that he decided to step back from his digital persona for twenty-five days, and he felt a difference instantly.
“Not every experience needs to be documented. And in over-documenting, we often don’t experience the experience,” he said, “And I really didn’t realize how true that was until I shut down for a little while,” said Thurston.
Thurston says it is easier than you may think to take a digital vacation, but in order to do it successfully; you have to let people know. He suggests setting an away message your email about a week in advance, giving people fair warning and allowing yourself to tie up loose ends. The distraction of constant updates can also be tempered by silencing your phone and turning off updates. Disabling your social media is a big help, you don’t need constant auto updates, syncing and publishing functions in action at all times.
Constantly being tuned into the alternate digital universe can create a false sense of urgency and dominate your mental freedom, which Thurston believes can be the most inhibiting factor in a digital addiction.
“It’s harder to create a great work, if you are constantly reacting to everything in your life. And without hours and days and weeks of relatively unscheduled disconnected things, you don’t give your mind time to process and develop some next big thing,” said Thurston.
But our devices and digital avenues are not the enemy. They are necessary to stay relevant in the professional world and help us to maintain personal relationships. According the Thurston, it is all about striking the right balance.
“Take some time each week, if not a full day, to just be present and not hyper-plugged in,” urges Thurston. A small digital breather can make all the difference.