Universe-scheduled Digital Detox: Thoughts On 2 Weeks Without A Phone

March was an interesting month of bad luck. My phone broke and I lost all of my bank cards. Even though I ordered everything as soon as I could, it took more than two weeks to get all replacements delivered. In the meantime, I went on an unplanned (trying hard not to say “forced”) digital detox.

Going back in time

Being without a phone and digital access to my bank account sent me around five, if not more, years back in time. I had to pay in cash everywhere. I had to buy my bus tickets from the driver (when was the last time you did that?). I had to inform myself on the morning weather the old-school way – by stepping outside on the balcony. I said goodbye to the food and taxis that were at my fingertips just a few days before. But that was not all. A bunch of accounts I use for work got blocked because of my inactive bank card. I couldn’t work on my podcast or send my regular newsletters.

The void

At first, as you can imagine, this digital regression caused a lot of discomfort. I felt frustrated and disconnected. Productivity, social media, and shopping were on hold. There was emptiness, but it didn’t feel expansive. It felt like staring into a void.

I considered myself a person who was not addicted to her phone. Yet, this complete unplanned digital detox showed me just how much I was still attached to it. “What do people do when they are not on their phones again?”. The time we spend on our phones often seems to go into a void and if you remove the phone, it’s we who dive straight into the abyss.

Seeking joy

After a few days and once I figured out the practicalities of cash-only life, the most curious thing started to happen. The void began to shift into a sense of connectedness. I became more present. I slowed down. My fingers were no longer itching to scroll up and down on a screen.

Being free from my duty to participate and contribute to the online world, I had space to listen to myself. What did I really want to do now that I couldn’t document and upload it? What would make me happy now that no one could see it? I found out that many of the things I do every day don’t light a spark in me. It’s not that I necessarily dislike them, but that they don’t bring me joy, and I craved more of it.

My pursuit of joy combined with being offline, gave me two gifts. The first one was reconnecting with my passion for the written word. Somewhere in the last two years, I ignorantly decided to stop writing and focus on other content types. Now I was reminded that I need to write to feed my soul. I am back to writing articles (here we are!) and my book. I even started drafting an online course. All of these made me feel happy and purposeful.

The other unexpected gift of this digital detox was a profound sense of peace. There is something about not having a device that shows you how much better other people are doing that is quite… nice. I thought maybe this was the Universe’s way of giving me space to focus on myself and recharge. Hence, I ended up calling this period a “universe-scheduled digital detox”.

The down-upgrade

Eventually, my new phone and bank cards were delivered. Surprisingly, I was not in a hurry to get back to social media. I wanted to savour the newly found peace and presence for a few more days. I gave myself one last weekend of laying low. I spent this time connected to people, nature, and myself. I laughed and played and napped and gazed at the bright sun and didn’t capture any of it for others to see.

Yesterday, I finally went back to my digital life. Well, not quite. I got a smaller phone. I installed fewer apps. I decided to have digital detox days going forward. I downgraded, digitally speaking, but upgraded in mindfulness, peace, and joy. It’s a down-upgrade.

Tools vs fools

Let’s face it: it sucks to break your phone and lose your bank cards. I do not wish such a drastic and unplanned digital detox to anyone. However, disconnecting for a few days could give us a much-needed perspective on the whole phone-in-hand business.

On the one hand, our devices are amazing tools. They give us access to contactless payments, transport options, information, and facilitated communication. These are the technological advancements I am not ready to give up and I bet you aren’t either.

However, when it comes to expecting our phones to be one of the primary sources of life satisfaction and fulfilment, we are fooling ourselves. Our devices are designed to make life easier, not to make us feel connected to what makes us human – the soul in our bodies and the heart in our chests.

The invitation

We cannot wait on a chunk of metal with a flashy screen to provide us with the feelings of joy, peace, and connectedness that we are missing. In fact, when we are constantly scrolling we don’t even know what we are missing. We are lost in the void.

So my invitation is this: disconnect from your phone once in a while. It’s a great opportunity to look up, around, and within, and find the things that your heart and soul crave the most.

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