About the time this issue reaches you, I will be emerging from a digital detox center known as Haleakala. My daughter and I will have spent four days hiking in the crater without our phones, laptops or any other devices that would connect us to the outside world. We will be experimenting with a radical means of communication that’s called face-to-face conversations. You should try it sometime.
This trip will be a welcome break, because this digital world sometimes wears me out. It’s my own fault: I rarely go anywhere without my iPhone, I bring my company laptop home every night even though there is a spare laptop at home and Wi-Fi is a requirement on all my other travels lately – even on vacation. I love my job, that’s why I’m almost always on, but I realize I was failing to follow Stephen Covey’s seventh habit of highly effective people: Take time regularly to sharpen the saw (ie. get a life).
So I’ve made sure to keep my other foot planted on the analog side of the digital divide. I rarely personally use Facebook or Twitter, though Hawaii Business is very active on both platforms. Frankly, I don’t think my life is so interesting that you need or would want hourly or daily updates, even if you’re my friend. I like reading magazines and books on paper, though at times I also read them digitally. And when I go hiking, I bring my phone so I can call 911 if I fall down a cliff, but I otherwise don’t pull it out.
In fact, I found that I sleep better if I follow a pre-bedtime digital detox every night. The phone and laptop stay downstairs when I go up to bed, I usually do a light yoga routine that disconnects my mind from the rest of the day, and I spend five or 10 minutes reading from an old-fashioned book before turning out the light. That routine almost guarantees seven or eight hours of good sleep. When I was allowing my digital devices into my bedroom, my sleep was much more inconsistent and I had trouble calming my brain.
Laptops, smartphones and their ilk have made my life better and I love them, but, like cheesecake, wine and dancing, you can have too much of a good thing. I’m learning to control my digital desires. By the way, I’ll let you know if I get withdrawal shakes during my detox on Haleakala.