With technology permeating into every aspect of our lives, a number of people are going in for tech detox.
Helen was a troubled woman — she felt she was wasting too much time, logging onto Facebook, chatting and stalking people on her friend list. “I got so frustrated because I would waste at least three hours of my day, doing nothing!” shares the teacher, who felt being online for too long was affecting her work.
“That’s when I decided enough was enough and went off the grid for four months,” she says, admitting that she re-joined in October. “I had to keep in touch with certain people, but I decided not to spend more than 20 minutes in a day and so far, I’ve stuck to it. I plan to chuck my smartphone, because I seem to be on the instant messaging services all the time!” she says.
Manasa isn’t alone in feeling claustrophobic in today’s world, where technology eats up into reality and the demarcation between social media and real life gets blurred by the minute. In fact, Internet addiction has become a recognised problem and certain clinics have started to offer digital detox programmes; certain businesses abroad even offer weekend getaways! It’s no wonder then, that ‘tech detox’ is becoming a necessity for many tech-savvy youngsters in the city.
The social-networking drug
For Lalitha Srinivasan, joining social networking site was more out of peer pressure than anything else. “I joined to get in touch with my school friends. As I started networking, I realised how addictive it was. With its options of chatting, apps and playing games, it was a lethal time wasting weapon,” says the MNC employee, who said she would browse the site even though it was frowned upon at her workplace.
It was then she realised how much time was getting wasted and she decided to log off. But giving it up wasn’t easy — since it had become an addiction, getting out of the habit of typing ‘face’ or ‘twit’ as the first words after opening a window, was hard. “Since I had gotten in touch with a lot of friends and we had formed a group, I had the classic case of FOMO (fear of missing out) — I felt they were having more fun than me.
“I started to feel lonely. Even when I used to log in earlier, I would still get the kick from ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. It had almost become like a drug,” recounts Lalitha. When she realised that she had more fun interacting with people, she gave it up. She’s been successfully off social media for three years now, and she’s more “at peace”.
Going back to the ‘dumb’ phone
When Akash* who works in the hospitality industry lost his smartphone, it came as a blessing in disguise. “I was disturbed with the constant buzz of notifications and had the urge to log onto social networking sites and check what everyone’s up to. So when I lost my phone three years ago, I was upset. But after a while, when I started using a dumb phone, I found relief. I felt good, giving undivided attention to people when they were talking to me and actually listening to them, without thinking when I needed to check a notification,” he says.
A recognised problem
Technology addiction is being recognised even in psychology. It is akin to drug, but one that is appreciated by the society, feels psychologist Diana Monterio. Explaining, she says, “Technology can be as addictive as a drug, but without the negative social consequences. For instance, society looks down on drug addicts. But the better phone a person has, the more they applaud it.”
Usually people don’t realise they’re addicted to social media till it’s too late. “People say ‘I have to give it up’. And if giving up alcohol isn’t easy because everyone around you is drinking, just think of trying to go cold turkey with technology. It’s very common for a person to experience withdrawal symptoms. The high your body enjoys when you get around 200 likes is very similar to the happiness you experience after a shot of alcohol, because of the chemical your brain releases. So when you suddenly stop going online, you will feel uncomfortable,” she says.