An Experiment in Cooling the Digital Motor

Being constantly engaged online is like munching from the party snack bowl. You can’t seem to stop and no one will put it away. Step away from the Cheez-its! They are dangerous and so is your constant online activity. (Dear Lord, I sound like my mother.)

The challenge: A digital detox like nothing before. The time commitment: One month. The rules: A for effort. The result: I solemnly swear that I put the following principles into practice, and I became a mildly happier person as a result.

1. Un-bookmark

Delete bookmarks on your browser that you don’t feel offer anything of value anymore. Too many pop-up ads? Delete. No new posts for six months? Delete. Stale content? Delete. Meant to return but never did? Read, then delete. This took me about 2 hours, and it needed to be done.

2. Un-follow

Guilty follow backs are the equivalent of leaving the bar with some guy just because he bought you a martini. Un-follow accounts that crowd your feed with content that does not give you joy (taking from the Konmari method here). For friends you’d prefer not to offend, muting works just as well. Just because they went to high school with you doesn’t mean you have to see them at the top of your feed every morning.

3. Purge your phone

There is an app for everything, and that is where it all starts. Clear your phone of all the apps you don’t use. They clog your storage, devour your data and make it more difficult to find the apps that you actually benefit from. You never play Hungry Shark anymore. Let it go.

Ready for the big leagues? Purge one of the big three (Twitter, Instagram or Facebook). I chose Facebook, and I did not miss it. I feel like that’s a sign.

4. Try alternative magazines

I can’t think of any other media more worthy of my time. You know the ones I mean—matte, thick and not available at Barnes & Noble. If you buy Vogue, you’re going to see billboards on every page. Beautiful billboards, but billboards none the less.

The cleaner the book, the more likely you are to discover something or someone spectacular. You’ll find them at your local coffee spots and vintage shops, and you’ll see instantly how every word in them was selected for you by artists who paid to print it with their life savings. If anyone deserves your money, they do. No idea where to start? Try Circus magazine.

5. Suspend all cross-tech multitasking

If you’re on your phone while streaming Netflix, you don’t actually care about whatever movie or film is playing. Time is money, and you’re throwing hard-earned dollars at your electric company. You wouldn’t have your phone out at the movie theater, right? Right, not just because you don’t want to disturb the people around you but because you paid $15 for your ticket because you’re there to engage and enjoy the film.

Just pick one. Or better yet, make room to do things you might enjoy more. I tried attending galleries, vintage shopping, re-reading the Harry Potter novels, listening to old Disney soundtracks and finding new bars. How are you ever going to take any postable photos if you don’t do anything?

Feature image by Lukas via


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