In February 2022, I took a two-week holiday for the first time in four years and four months. On my previous holidays, I went on a trip to Europe which exhausted me to death. It wasn’t a simple trip for fun, but I had places to go, things to do and people to meet. I had a companion on and off during the 15 days and slept on planes the last two nights in a row!
This time, I have been planning to participate in a meditation retreat and a few day-trip with a friend of mine. However, due to the pandemic of the Covid 19, the trip to the retreat was cancelled and the friend got infected with the covid virus and could not join me. The long-awaited holiday turned out to be something unexpected, but somehow expected.
Anyway, I wanted to get refreshed and to recharge myself. I had taken a two-week leave from my jobs. I have more than two jobs. I wouldn’t have the chance to do the same thing in the coming years. I decided to go ahead and enjoy myself.
One thing that I have always wanted to do in years is “digital detox”. I read a book titled “Insta Brain (邦題：スマホ脳)” by Anders Hansen and got scared, and at the same time inspired. He said in the book that our brains are not hard wired to adopt the modern life with technology and science which we are supposed to enjoy and benefit from.
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, man was hunting animals and fighting with them. Men were killing each other and life was full of danger. They had to be alert all the time so that nobody or no animal would kill them. If you are careful enough and prepared for any unexpected attacks all the time, you might survive. That kind of time had lasted for a very long time.
Today, we do not have much danger in life, at least no tigers or lions in a bush to attack us or some of our fellows to kill us in order to get food. We have quite decent and safe lives except natural disasters or viruses like the Covid. Even though we don’t have to worry about such threats, we tend to be worried and scared. It IS hard wired in our brains to do so.
Back to the book, the author tells us how dangerous our lives are as we are so dependent on technology and are used to it and addicted to it, especially to smartphones.
I read the book twice and came to think about “digital detox” and to be so sure I needed to do it. I needed to get out of this juggling life, being always online and checking messages, emails and social media! In recent years, I have often been feeling my brain taking more than it can.
When the meditation retreat plan popped up in my mind, something my friend had attended with great joy, a wonderful result and change, I said “That’s it!” It will automatically make me get out of digital world as I will be forced to leave my smartphone from the first day till the last, the tenth day of the course.
I had to do it by myself since the trip to the retreat was cancelled, I set some rules.
- No watching dramas on Netflix (I have no TV).
- I will be in touch with only limited number of people (my family and that sick friend)
- No email checking.
- No social media.
- Start meditating as much as I can by myself.
- A lot of reading and listening to music which I hadn’t done for years.
Here I am. I am extremely happy with the simple life. Going for walk in a big park in my neighbourhood in the mornings. Taking nice bath all day long any time I feel like it. Reading the books that I piled up for months and years. Listening to music and singing at the top of my lungs.
I didn’t miss being active on social media as much as I had expected or at all. I had been an active user of Facebook over a decade up to 2021 May. And then, switched to Twitter and ever since I have tweeted so many times and got to know many people there. One day, I declared that I would be away for a week for digital detoxing. I, however, think I won’t go back to that soon.
I understand alright the mechanisms of our fears. Furthermore, the author tells the findings why we love the internet and smartphones. They satisfy our needs and are designed to attract us, even to make us addicted to them.
Our brains love “maybe”. Uncertainty is more captivating than certainty. The feeling of “I may find something interesting or seducing on the net.” Or “I should find new photos of my friends on Instagram.” Or “I might have gotten Likes on my twitter.” Such expectations are more tempting than when we check something we are sure to find.
What was more threatening is those creators or founders of applications or platforms themselves were aware of the dangers or realised later what those inventions would cause to humans, especially children.
Now what we should do to prevent the worst from occurring is to control the situation and technology. We must work on developing safe applications or software for human brains.
I have made up my mind not to stay on the screen for a long time and implement “digital detoxing” for a day or so every now and then. To keep meditating, read a lot of physical books and not to mind what others think of me or my business. Man is what is called “a social animal” and we cannot live alone. Our genes are also made to throng to survive. If you had been alone in that stone age, the possibility of being killed would have been much higher. People who lived in group were safer than those who lived alone. They needed to share information to survive, and so do we.
I have learned a lot while on holidays and hopefully I will live a better life from now on.