Digital detox

“We believe in the power of living a simpler life with fewer distractions. One of the biggest distractions in our lives today is our phone.”

— Siggi’s Yogurt

Grand prize! Ten winners! Ten thousand dollars for giving up your smartphone for a month! Enter to win in the Siggi’s Yogurt Digital Detox program. I’m not going to lie; this contest caught my eye. After all, I don’t use my phone that much. Face it, I am a middle-aged woman, not one of those kids who is constantly on their phones. Piece of cake, I should enter even if I realistically have no chance of winning.

But then the what-abouts started.

What about my daily Wordle? That’s how I wake up, sipping coffee in bed. And Connections and The Mini — completing all those games must keep my synapses popping. Will I go into cognitive decline if I suddenly stop completing my morning word puzzles?

And how disconnected will I be if I don’t mindlessly scroll through social media at least a few times a day? It’s true that ads far outweigh content, but if I don’t look, I might miss something. (What that something is I have no idea, but still, I might miss it.)

And wait, that would mean that I would have no camera. How would I document my family completely asleep in the living room at 8 p.m., my dog looking adorable as always, or my kid’s sports event? Of course, my photography skills are terrible. I never actually do anything with the photos, other than clog up the space on my phone. It’s ironic that we take more pictures than ever, but rarely print them. But, still, there is something deeply satisfying about snapping them.

Also, I do like to immediately look up important information. Just look at my last two searches: the mating season for Barred Owls and Adirondack Animal Tracks. The owls have been noisy lately, but apparently, that is the precursor to the late February/March event. And yes, they were fox tracks wandering down the driveway — no surprise there, as we saw two foxes by the road last night. But those others, with visible claws? I wish I had taken a picture so I could compare them more accurately.

And my weather app? What if the forecast changes from the morning? Usually, I end up frustrated if I plan my activities around the weather, so maybe I should ignore forecasts altogether.

Finally, sometimes I forget it is actually a phone, in retrospect, that’s the function I use the least. But the contest has that covered, they will supply winners with a flip phone and a prepaid sim card. No sense in worrying loved ones when you suddenly don’t answer your calls or texts.

With a deep breath, on the last day to enter, I filled out the form. It was mostly standard information until I hit the compelling essay section. Here, entrants had to detail why they needed a digital detox. This required thought and reflection, what was life like pre-cellphone?

I couldn’t claim I was always more productive. I harbor a shameful memory of my two oldest children begging me to put down the latest Harry Potter book, so I’d make them lunch. But I did read more, craft more and play more. I was, in probability, a far more interesting person. Even as a young mother, I scheduled outings with my family, designed over-the-top art projects, and always had a kitchen science experiment going. Now, most nights, as I doom-scroll through my phone, I fall prey to cellular inertia.

The average American spends four hours and 23 minutes on their cellphones daily. This statistic confirms that I am an average American. I want that time back; apparently, so do a lot of others. Winners were originally supposed to be announced on Feb. 15, but the company received such an overwhelming number of entries, they needed to postpone the selection until mid-March.

Do I expect to be among those named? Absolutely not, but I’ve vowed to put my phone out of reach, dig into some old hobbies, and get out more. Nothing drastic, just a return to a simpler, less technology-bound life. And, if I follow through with my pledge, I’ll already be a winner.


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