So what is technology fasting?
It actually is harder than it sounds. It involves giving up a number of different devices for an extended period of time (in this case 48 hours). You can give up your phone, laptop, tablet, email, internet and so on. You can give up all or some but the idea is simple: You need to gain an understanding of how much you rely on technology. I am going to level with you people. I did not want to do this and I really was not going to do this. However, I lost my phone over the weekend and I came home the following morning to realize that my laptop needed to be repaired.There is a growing body of research which indicates that technology fasting can benefit you substantially and according to another blogger Richard Louv (2012), getting in touch with nature while fasting helps reboot the brain and excite the senses which you can read about here.
How I will break the experience down for you: I will talk about the pros and cons of not having the devices. Additionally I will break down the time of the fast in sections of 12 hours each. For example, the first 12 hours, the following 12 hours and so on. In this day and age I would rather call these devices necessities. Before going into the details of the experience, I will give you a clear picture of my dependence on the two devices.
Chapter 1 : Starting life without a phone : 0-12 hours
It was about 6pm by the time I realized that I had lost my phone at the festival. Therefore I am going to talk about the first 12 hours without a smart phone. The disadvantages became abundantly clear from the beginning. I could not contact my friends during the festival, I could not take photos of the fun filled evening and so on. However the advantages definitely outweighed the disadvantages on an emotional level. I could roam the festival at my own pace, make new friends, bump into people I knew and go see the acts that I wanted to see instead of stuck in a group for the evening. You can see my list of pros and cons in greater detail here. The major disadvantage of not having a phone at this point in time was that I could not call my friends to find out how to meet them after the festival ended. Eventually, I did find them though it did take some exploring.
Chapter 2: Wake up Call: 12-24 hours
The following day it dawned upon me that I would have to fork out another few hundred euro for a new phone. I also realized that I had a lot of work to do with regards to college assignments, event organizing and so on. I thought I would turn on the laptop until I was told by my brother that it was out of action and it needed to be repaired. I let the fact of not having either device sink in for a moment. Not only could I not do basic things such as check my email accounts or social media sites, I could not commence any work on any assignments.
So what did I do? I improvised. I starting digging through the leaning tower of college books I had accumulated over the years an found material related to my modules which I could use as substitutes of not having devices to access the internet. This still let me limited to extent. I could not access materials for assignments. Once I came to the realization that I could not do much work, I had to find other activities to fill up my day. I decided to make dinner for the family and let me tell that I had forgotten how therapeutic cooking was. It really helped relax me and I started to remember different techniques I picked up from cooking with my father (who use to be a chef). I made a beautiful Chicken Tarragon with fresh pasta and homemade garlic bread. Then it hit me. The fact that I spent a considerable amount of my time on devices trying to communicate different messages simultaneously for different aspects of my everyday life, I had forgotten one of my hobbies. This was where I started to realize that there may be a point to this fasting idea. If it helped me to start picking up old hobbies, who knows what it could do if I gave it up for another day.
Chapter 3: The Book Case: 24-36 hours
I was never a massive fan of reading as an activity outside of academic stud. I’m not like Kanye West or anything who is famous for saying “I’m a proud non-reader of books”. However, without a phone or a laptop I was limited to television or a book. There is only so much television I can watch, especially when channels generally repeat old episodes that I have seen countless times. So I decided to pick up a book called ‘I am Legend’. I remember buying this book after going to the cinema and seeing the movie starring Will Smith. I actually bought the book at the time because I was dissatisfied with the movie but I guess I got distracted or lost motivation to actually read it. Back to the matter at hand, I sat down in my room, put on some music and started reading the book. Surprisingly I got half way through it before putting it down that night and read the rest the following day. I came to the conclusion that reading actually helped me relax and get ready for a good nights’ sleep and I woke up at a reasonable hour which is very unlike me. In fact I found out that using laptops etc is not a good idea before bed which you can read about here.
Chapter 4: The Calm: 36-48 Hours
By this stage, I had not really even thought about my phone that was lost nor did I think heavily about when my laptop would be returned fully repaired. I went out in the evening to get some fresh air and call over to friend. Because I had no phone meant I had no music to listen to for the duration of the walk but that didn’t seem to bother me. Instead I just enjoyed the peace and quiet as I walked up the streets. It actually made me think about how much I am usually surrounded by noise and bright screens. It was almost like a snapped out of a zombie state and back into the real world. I think during the last few hours of this fast I really reflected on how much I rely on technology in general. It has made me think about cutting down the amount of time I spend on my devices especially due to the health benefits that such a commitment can produce.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
I think the technology fasting was beneficial but I don’t think it should be a simple 48 hour experiment. Not only should it help you realize your dependency on technology but it should serve as a starting point to help you reduce the amount of tie you spend everyday on the different devices and platforms. I still have no phone and I actually am a bit glad I don’t have one for the time being. It means I am not on social media sites as much so I waste less time aimlessly checking news feeds and more time utilizing online resources with purpose and scope. There is my two cents and to wrap it up, here is a song that rather aptly applies to the point of this post. ENJOY!