Have you ever thought about having some serious time off from the screen, including the internet, your phone, social media and the television? This probably sounds almost impossible – and would you enjoy it anyway? Possibly not.
The reason I ask the question is because I’m interested to what extent our identities and values are entwined with what we see and read from these sources and also on how we present ourselves on them. Do you really know yourself and feel like a complete, real human being without social media? Or do you feel a bit lost and at sea if you are not regularly either posting or looking at what other people are posting? Do you suffer from FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out? Are you compulsively checking your phone for status updates etc?
I think having an absolute break from the screen is a real challenge in everyday life and probably requires a holiday or a retreat to do it completely. I managed it to a large degree on our recent holiday to Glen Affric in Scotland. The exception was a couple of texts and a phone call to my mother who is in her early eighties and likes to be in touch when I’m away. I did manage not to put the Wi-Fi connection on my phone.
The reason I did this was because the night before we set off on holiday I went to a CPD entitled ‘Understanding Digital Stress’ led by Nikki Ellen at the Academy SPACE in Sheffield. I realised that recently, with my relatively new private counselling practice which includes this website and some other profiles on various directories, I was checking as frequently as I could to see how many people were looking at these platforms to access my information etc. It was interesting to see this about myself as I am quite adamant that I don’t want to be on social media – with this kind of behaviour being one of my reasons. So there I was falling into the trap I had decided I never would. It was a bit of a wake-up call for me because I also realised that is was causing me quite a bit of stress. I just needed to leave it all alone for a while and accept that what will be, will be.
While we were out walking one day beside a beautifully clear river running along a valley bottom I thought to myself that this clear, running water was a good analogy for what I was trying to do – which was to have a digital cleanse. And guess what – I have since looked it up – and it is a ‘thing’. So there is plenty of advice and information (on the internet!) about how to have a real digital cleanse and a break from technology without it disrupting your whole life or business. You could even decide to do it regularly each week, giving your brain a rest and enabling you to rejuvenate, be more creative and remember who you actually are as a human being.
My hope is that in the future we still do exist and have identities – even if we are not on Facebook.