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Slow down not start up: the rise of the digital detox

⅓ of people would rather clean their toilets than their inbox. – Digital Detox.

There are those among us who are lucky enough to clearly remember the age before technology consumed our lives, before facebook managed which event you were going to this weekend, and conversations in the office actually happened across the table rather than on Slack. It might seem like a rose-tinted, distant memory that is impossible to revive in the all-encompassing technology-heavy world of today. Think about it, today’s eighteen year olds (who were born in 2000) probably don’t even remember life without Facebook, which was launched in 2004 – is it too soon to joke about how much data has been collected on those guys?

However this year also marks a prominent counter push on the digital sphere particularly in the rise of the ‘Digital Detox’. It’s becoming a trend, a lifestyle, the ‘cool’ thing to do by putting your phone down for longer than a minute, actually even longer than a day – could you even begin to imagine? Those scrolling hours directed to some other handy skill for the morning? I mean, would that mean we need to buy an alarm clock to actually wake up? It’s true this really is becoming a big thing for 2018 and is doubtless going to push further into the mainstream routine as technology equally pushes us further in the opposite direction.

From the countless news articles detailing how to carry out a digital detox such as Forbes (because we actually need tips on how to survive this new social test), to apps such as Mute which is pretty self-explanatory, the digital detox is clearly on the rise. There’s even one company that has made it their sole mission to encourage this across the world.

Digital Detox, is a company that prides itself on re-connecting members ‘with ourselves, each other, our communities and the world around us’. As much as you can’t help but read that sentence in an ethereal, peace loving, hippy-dippy tone, the company also really does try to encourage a way of approaching our working lives in a more harmonious and balanced way. They’ve worked with Code for America, Vmware, Genentech and a variety of other tech companies (Wired and New York Times are also linked on their website) that are trying to break the habit of staring at a computer screen for the majority of the day, by offering to ‘inspire them with a speaking series, hands-on workshops, recess, device-free parties or full day camp’. All these things are actually much easier said than done, too.

The story behind the company is an interesting one. According to the website, following a near death experience, the VP of a prominent startup left his tech heavy job and eventually found himself running a guest house on an island in Cambodia. Having returned back to America, horrified with the screen-savvy nation he and his partner were met with, they have since begun retreats full of notebooks, typewriters and not a digital device in sight. Alongside a strong manifesto, the company pushes for a new code of ethics surrounding technology as well as providing speeches, retreats and corporate relief events.

Ok, this is a far stretch from the tech and political spheres of the working world. However if this at least triggers a thought, or at least a moment where you think twice about picking your phone up to scroll through Facebook and emails, then it’s served as a small step in the right direction. This movement is equally as important to the technology sphere as any new crypto, hardware, software technology and it’s groups such as this that offer to bring back a human dimension to the working environment. Perhaps it really is time to slow down rather than start up.

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