All Tech Considered
4:40 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Digital Detox, Step 1: Step Away From The Phone

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:15 am

The summer months are upon us again. It's the season to sit outside, decompress and finally put those accumulated sick days to good use: It's vacation season.

Vacation traditionally means taking a break from all of the stresses, worries and routines of our daily lives. We put the work down in order to pick up a cool drink and a new novel.

So let's make sure we have everything:

Flip-flops? Check.

Suntan lotion? Check.

Cellphone? Laptop? iPad? Hmm.

Believe it or not, some people put down the smartphone, avoid their email, and stay off of social media for more than a few hours at a time.

Mat Honan puts himself in situations where he doesn't even have the option of using technology. He goes camping.

"I love to go out," says Honan, a senior writer at Wired magazine.

Honan says he loves being online, but he thinks "there's value in spending time in quiet reflection."

"That's something we've known for thousands of years," he says. "Very hard to be reflective when you're distracted by these streams that have something interesting."

So whether it's for a week or a few days, the tech writer says take a break: Just unplug.

Paul Baier, a software company executive, takes breaks from social media a little bit more seriously — he pays for it.

Or at least he did.

Baier's daughter, just now finishing her sophomore year of high school, knew her father thought she spent too much time on Facebook. So, halfway through her freshman year, the now 15-year-old put a deal on the table: If Baier paid her, she would stay off Facebook.

The sentence? Six months off social media.

The price? $200.

"I thought she was joking," says Baier. "I said you couldn't live without Facebook."

But she did, and with ease. And she was baffled when the Internet and TV went crazy with her story. She turned down all interviews.

And this isn't the only story of its kind.

A teacher waived an exam for students who agreed to give up their phones. Another writer stayed off the Internet, entirely, for a year. He said he learned it wasn't the Internet that was causing his problems.

So, we want to hear your story. Tell us about your attempt at a digital detox. Did you last a week, a day? Was it challenging? Refreshing? Tell us what you did, and how it went. But you have to use the Internet to let us know.

Visit All Things Considered on Twitter or Facebook, or fill out this form, to tell us about your digital detox stories.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Lastly in All Tech, for the first official week of summer, thoughts about getting away from it all. It's vacation season, a time when some people try to take a break from our online-all-the-time culture.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Putting down the smartphone, avoiding emails, staying off social media. Some people do that, like tech writer Mat Honan. It's his job to be connected. So when he goes camping...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAT HONAN: I love to go out to the Sierras. And you can be in some really beautiful places, very quickly, that are very far from any cell phone tower.

CORNISH: Honan says with the advent of wearable tech and ever more widely available Internet connections, disconnecting will soon be an important, learned skill.

HONAN: The information is going to be there - like, it's coming. And it's going to be coming at us in ways where we can't avoid it. And so we've got to have the discipline to take those devices off - to turn them off. And it's going to have to be done with intention because otherwise, there's going to be no escaping it.

BLOCK: So a week, a day - Mat Honan of Wired Magazine says, take a break. Just unplug. Then there's Paul Bier, a software company executive.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL BIER: I have a 15-year-old daughter who is finishing up her sophomore year...

BLOCK: In high school. And Bier says his daughter knew he thought she spent too much time on Facebook.

BIER: So she offered to stop using Facebook for a while if I would pay her.

CORNISH: Two-hundred dollars, six months off social media.

BIER: I thought she was joking. I said, you couldn't live without Facebook.

CORNISH: But she did it with ease. And she was baffled when the Internet and TV went crazy with her story.

BIER: It warmed my heart to hear her talk about how useless 99 percent of the chatter in social media traffic is.

CORNISH: She turned down all interviews, by the way.

BLOCK: There are other stories like this. A teacher who waived an exam for students who would give up their phones. Another writer who stayed off all things Internet for a year. He said he learned it was not the Internet that was causing his problems. It was him.

CORNISH: So we want to hear your story. Tell us about your attempt at digital detox - a week, a day. Tell us what you did, and tell us how it went.

BLOCK: You do have to use the Internet to let us know on Twitter or Facebook. You can find us, @npratc. And our blog is npr.org/alltech. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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