As part of my 21 for 2021 I set out to turn off my phone one weekend a month and so far it has been going well, which to be fair wasn’t too hard as I had little reason to even need a phone.

To be transparent: I don’t go offline completely and still use my laptop, but since I use my laptop differently from my phone (I have to sit down, get my laptop, start up my laptop) I don’t mind it. For me, this is mainly about my phone and letting go of the habit of constantly checking Whatsapp, email and socials all day long: if I’m not on Instagram, I’m probably pinning on Pinterest or checking e-mails.

We’re 9 months in, so what have I learned so far?

I feel so much less restless and am much more focused throughout and afterwards. It’s probably due to a combination of not feeling guilty for doom-scrolling and putting my energy into other things.

Social media isn’t the problem for me, the attachment to my phone seems to be the main issue. I always thought I’m not addicted to social media and that it doesn’t impact me and I have to say that the past 9 month did prove that, but it’s the constant useless checking that drains most of my energy.

Having my Kindle app on my phone is not a good idea. I read books on my phone, that’s a good thing, right? Yet I often end up on Instagram or Pinterest. Sometimes it’s because I get distracted by a message and sometimes I look things up on Google and end up on the Buttered Cat Paradox Wiki page.

Apart from your mother, no one notices you’re not online. I don’t announce when I’m going offline and no one initially noticed – or didn’t find it alarming enough to check in on me. Apart from my mother, but that’s what they’re for, right? Nowadays most people often check in with me to see how the weekend was, or they tell me they went offline as well.

I see 50% more dogs while I’m in a queue or waiting for something. I also noticed people who queue together don’t really talk to each other. They say a few things, but there are no conversations, funny enough it’s often about something they saw or read on their phones.

I do miss taking photos on the go. I take so many photos and most of those are for myself. Like I’ve cooked some great meals on my detox weekends, but where is the proof? Sometimes I get my big standalone camera, but when I’m on a walk and see something I want to take a photo of I either ask my boyfriend or go back later and take it – though this has only happened once.

What’s next?

In the past, I’ve tried to extend this to weekdays, by staying off my phone from 7pm onwards, but it never quite worked. In addition, I’ve chosen weekends where I wasn’t meeting anyone or using public transport alone, which made it easier.
So, my next goal is to:
  • detox twice a month for the rest of the year
  • try a weekend detox where I go outside my neighbourhood sans phone to see how I manage
  • keep my phone out of sight so I don’t subconsciously grab it when eating, watching TV or when out with friends
  • buy a Kindle or tablet for reading books so I don’t get distracted and end up in another Wikipedia rollercoaster

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