A shift in perspective
The combined shift to hybrid work and hybrid relationships makes the traditional idea of digital detox not just outdated, but nearly impossible. Digital detoxes are touted as an anxiety-relieving panacea that will pull people away from distracting screens, and reconnect them with the present moment. But as people’s lives and screens are more inextricable than ever, the idealisation of disconnection may end up causing more anxiety when you can’t achieve it.
“I can’t shut down technology. We are on screens for so many different reasons,” says Sina Joneidy, a senior lecturer in digital enterprise at Teeside University, UK. He takes a different approach. “For me, it’s more about detoxing from the 'desirous attachment’ to technology.” Joneidy, who’s a Buddhist, explains that ‘desirous attachment’ is when a person wants something because they believe it will bring then happiness – when actually, in this case, it’s just a blue light dopamine hit.
Rather than cutting out technology altogether, Joneidy practices digital mindfulness. “I make sure my use of technology is purposeful,” he says. Digital mindfulness may be more practical for some people, in lieu of a full detox: less worry about cutting tech out entirely, and more focus on being intentional with its use. Instead of being seduced by the addictive, mindless scroll, Joneidy believes digitally mindful users can enhance their lives with tech, rather than feeling like they’re tethered to a device.