Do You Need a Digital Detox?

“I wish I could quit you,” you whisper to your computer, your computer phone, your computer phone pad, and your computer book pad phone table.
Publish date:
July 11, 2013
The Jane Dough, smartphones, work life

As we’ve said before, the smartphone and all comparable technologies (we’re looking at you, iPad) are ruining everything for everyone. In this new digital age, the boundaries between public and private and day and night have been fundamentally altered. We cradle our phones while we sleep. We are accessible to our emails, to our jobs, to each other 24/7; we live our lives in a way that mimics the always on, anything-anytime-anywhere nature of the web. We experience phantom smartphone twitches, believing our phones vibrated, rang, buzzed, or bleeped with new messages even though they never made a sound. Perhaps you are sick of it; you want to opt out — at least for a little while. How do you do it? “I wish I could quit you,” you whisper to your computer, your computer phone, your computer phone pad, and your computer book pad phone table. Well, wish no longer — as Raw Story reports, an increasing number of companies are offering ways to “digitally detox.”

“This sudden surge in connection possibilities, after the initial period of enthusiasm, prompts every user to reflect on how to continue to enjoy life while taking advantage of their connection. How to avoid becoming dependent,” Remy Oudghiri, a director at French polling firm Ipsos and author of Déconnectez-vous!. or “Log Out!”, told Raw Story. In fact, the desire to disconnect has created an entire marketplace of goods and services. In Oudghiri’s homeland, researchers have created a special type of wallpaper that blocks wi-fi, which Ahlstrom, a materials company, plans to develop further and put on the market next year. Company spokesman Robin Guillard claims there is “significant interest” in the product, most notably from schools who wish to keep smartphones from distracting students.

There are even specific travel packages for the digitally-dependent. For 175 euros ($230) per person per night, guests of Dubin’s Westin hotel can surrender their smartphones and tablets on check-in and receive a detox package that includes a tree planting kit and a board game. Then there are the more extreme alternatives, like “tech-free personal wellness retreat” Digital Detox, which takes the over-stimulated off the grid. Digital Detox organizes monthly tech-free retreats that include relaxing at a remote ranch in California and meditating on an island off the coast of Cambodia.

The harmful effects produced by our “plugged in” lives are so prevalent that a growing number of companies are encouraging employees to cut the cord. In 2011, Volkswagen declared it would stop sending emails to employees’ Blackberrys between 6:15 PM and 7:00 AM. Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow was brought in to boost work-life balance at the Boston Consulting Group’s local office. After establishing a rotating Blackberry blackout day, Perlow found that 58 percent of BCG employees who took a day off from smartphone use said they were likely to stay at the firm; just 40 percent of those who continued with their normal smartphone use said the same thing.

If even after a Cambodian snorkeling trip, you can’t kick your digital habit, there are a number of Internet rehabs for you to attend, like reSTART, which claims to be the first residential treatment center for Internet addiction in the U.S. For $14,000, the center offers a 45-day program built to “help people wean themselves from pathological computer use.” Ironically, as NBC observed, reSTART is situated near Redmond, Washington, headquarters of Microsoft and a “world center of the computer industry,” because OF COURSE.

“You can run but you can’t hide,” said the Internet. “I know your number. I know where you live. I even know where you are when you aren’t home — thanks, Foursquare! You’ll come back. They always come back… And when you do, I’ll be ready. With hundreds of new cat videos and lists of the 90 ’90s-est ’90s Things That Ever ’90s-ed in the ’90s.”

Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.