i went to an event but only took photos after the fact. what the...? i know! i know.
the event was "Unplug LA," celebrating the National Day of Unplugging, organized by Digitial Detox, a group that hosts retreats and events focused on finding balance in the digital age, and Reboot, a nonprofit reinventing Jewish traditions for younger generations.
as if checking our phones at the door wasn't challenging enough, there were more simple-but-not-easy rules: no work talk, no networking, and everyone used a nickname.
we indulged in tech-free activities, like using typewriters, (face) painting, bracelet making, live music, board games, spoken word poetry workshops, and coloring. plus, the requisite food truck (Border Grill, for the curious). there were also jars of conversation prompts, like “describe your week as weather or a landscape.” juicy, no?
i went alone, but also went with a killer nickname.
best of all, i experienced two awesome synchronicities. i met a yoga teacher from the studio i happen to be testing out this month. she moved to LA as a result of doing The Artist’s Way.
and i saw a fellow improv student from UCB. we’d never met, but i recognized her from the valet line. although it didn’t occur to me as i approached--thanks to the cup of wine i clutched--things easily could’ve taken a police-summoning turn as i walked up to say, "hey, i remember you from a once-a-week thing across town. no, we've never spoken, we're just in the building at the same time."
luckily she wasn’t freaked out. she’s also from Philly! and we both attended Quaker school!
another fantastic aspect was the location. it was held at the Electric Lodge in Venice. "electric" because it’s on Electric Avenue. yes:
and “lodge” because it was built by and for the Masons. it’s now a performing arts space that retained its awesome name.
although it’s easiest when you’re required to hand over your phone on arrival, i promise you can perform your own digital detox. here’s how:
- decide how long, or how often. this all depends on your current addiction level, but switching from always-connected to zero-connectivity-for-a-day sounds brutal.
- plus, if you fail immediately you might grow discouraged. the important thing is setting a goal you can stick with, that will make you want to keep trying, not run screaming back to your phone. start as gradually as you need to, maybe by not checking your phone for an hour, then three, and build up to a full day.
- schedule your detox like any other appointment. this way you can’t back out.
- if you’re going for the full 24, tell everyone who might need to get in touch. figure out a system in case you must be reached. maybe plan to check your phone at specific times.
- choose analog activities: visit a botanical garden, explore a new part of town, check out an art exhibit, attend a street fair, rock down to Electric Avenue...
- maybe you finally accomplish fun things you’ve been meaning to do, or less fun things you’ll feel better having completed. or, you know those free events your city/town/commune is always hosting, and about which you say, that sounds cool, then never attend? time to go!
- turn it completely off. yes, airplane mode is a lifesaver, but it’s so easy to undo, you might unintentionally fail. if the phone is completely off, however, there’s a chance you’ll come to your senses while the white Apple logo appears and your phone revs up for use. by the time you’re prompted to punch in the pass code, you’ll remember your higher purpose.
- make a pact with yourself.
- when i was applying to grad school and needed to draft my admissions essays by hand (it’s how i outline), i put a Post-It reading "DO NOT TOUCH" on my laptop as an admonishment to steer clear of the device until i’d earned the chance to log on. i suggest slapping a note on your phone with a question or inspiration to yourself, like, "are you sure?" "this is not the real you. it’s your lower, impulsive, undisciplined self.” “keep going and fight the good fight!”
have you done a digital detox? are you interested in participating? what are your most damaging technology habits?
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