Technological Fasting
Lifestyle Technology Trends

My First Technological Fasting Experience: A Step Towards Digital Wellbeing

My mornings are weird. I usually wake up by 6:30 AM and spend at least 30 minutes in the washroom. While you definitely didn’t sign up for this level of information, bear with me for a moment. So, I usually catch up with the social media, mails and read some news in that period. However, one fine day, I decided to read a non-fiction. So, I began reading ‘Ikagai‘ (of course a digital version of it). While I was midway through the book, there was a lot of focus around the state of ‘flow‘. Flow, or a state of no distractions can be achieved through multiple ways. And believe you me, I was doing exactly opposite of ALL the pointers mentioned in the book. So, I had a lot of corrections to be made in my life.

Book cover of 'Ikagai' that talks about technological fasting

I decided to kick off my journey of attaining the flow, with a seemingly gargantuan task of ‘Technological Fasting‘. It suggests that you do away with all the technology for a day in a week. Therefore, last Saturday, I kept my phone, iPad and laptop under lock and key at night and decided to give this digital fasting a shot, the next day. This one’s all about my experience.

Start of the Day:

No exceptions were made here. I woke up at a usual 6:30ish. While heading out for the washroom, I had that really weird emptiness (no pun intended). As if my brain was wondering what to do all this time. I sat down and felt like it was 90s all over again. Tried reading the labels on the shampoo bottles (BTW, do you know that Ketoconazole is the component meant for helping you in dandruff related issues?). Anyway, it was boring. For the first time in almost an year, I came out within 15 minutes.

Garfield with cup of coffee in his hand

What Next? I had no idea what to do when I came out. Usually, I would go for a quick walk but what’s walking without music? So sadly, I decided to skip. I felt asleep again and woke back up at 9:30 AM. I had to put myself to sleep forcefully just to pass time.

The Negative Space Void:

As I gained consciousness after an uneasy sleep, I decided to start my day. I got ready and decided to meet my very old friend I hadn’t met in a while: television. See, we have evolved to an extent that TV isn’t considered as technology any more. I’d like to highlight one observable change. There are negative spaces in our daily life. This is the time between two important tasks. For example, time spent in the elevator, in between two consecutive meetings etc. One such negative space is when advertisements are running on television. For most of us, phone occupies these negative spaces unconsciously. That’s exactly what happened with me. At every interval, I found myself searching for my phone only to realize, a moment later, that today was not a regular day.

Negative Space Example
An example of negative space in art

Living the Moment:

This Sunday our domestic help was on leave and I was feeling quite low. So, I decided to do something out of my league. And thus, the idea of cooking came by. My spouse was so happy with this transformation.

On a usual Sunday, I would be lazing around with my eyes on the phone, ears on OTT and attention on neither.

This sudden shift was a welcoming change. We cooked a Sunday noon kind of food: Keema, together. Later, enjoyed it without TV. Now I don’t know if my culinary skills are just exquisite, or food really tastes good without distractions. I ate slowly, with much more sense of what I am eating. It is just not possible to do so any more with office entering our homes. There’s no standard break for everyone, like it used to happen back in the ‘old normal’.

What Did I do the Entire day?

Most of it was centered around consciously avoiding screen exposure. I went out for grocery shopping, slept in the afternoon (that was new) and in the remaining time, tried to watch television. I watched this movie which was on my bucket list for quite a long time now- “Pursuit of Happiness”. Was it a really fine movie or I had undivided attention? In the past, I have complained that keeping me hooked for a couple of hours is just too much to ask from me. However, this time around, I never paid attention to the clock until the movie got over.

I realized it on the fasting day that there’s a very subtle way of finding out if you are really immersed in a show/movie you are watching. Just observe how often do you check how much time is left until the end.

Image poster of pursuit of happyness

Long story short, I didn’t feel the need of touching the remote and only switched spots when the movie actually got over. That has not happened in a long time. Even when I am paying to watch movies (theatre halls), I usually get bored midway and at times go out after making some lame excuses. This time it was different. May be, it was the awareness that even if I move out, I still won’t have my phone to bank on.

The Conversations:

This is probably the biggest change I observed on the day of technological fasting. Most of us our guilty of talking to our significant others with cellphone in one hand and fiddling with it. Thanks to the new age games which can be played using one hand and can be done simultaneously along with other tasks (at least we think so). I never realized but I also had half baked conversations with my spouse. Quite often, she would claim that a topic has been discussed but I won’t have any memory of it. Same is the case when I talk to my parents. On a video call, I would minimize the call in the floating thumbnail and do something else on my phone.

Mindful conversations

Until this day, I never realized that this could be a serious problem. Each of the conversation I had that day was so clear, mindful and enriching, I concluded that I have been missing out on a lot lately. Even my mother unknowingly said, “Aaj kaafi free hai tu” (You don’t have much to do today). And guess what? We talked for a shorter duration as compared to a regular day. That’s is indeed powerful.

The Downsides:

Let’s not view this technological fast from the rose tinted glasses. There are a few downsides to it as well:

1. Hype:

I take sole responsibility of this. I have been pre occupied with my phone so much in the past that this event was a really a big deal for me. Even my spouse put it on social media and everyone was testing me by calling that day. So, this hype kind of made me uneasy. Especially in the first half of the day. I think I made it a big deal in my head and couldn’t enjoy my digital fast as much as I could have. The very purpose of practicing calmness seemed to be defeated until I forcefully got rid of this thought.

May be, these could be withdrawal symptoms as well. Never had them before, so I am not sure. But there was a definite restlessness surrounding me. Even when I got back to my phone for an hour at 11 PM in the night, I had trouble in sleeping. May be I can define this feeling better in the future, but as of now, it’s not good.

2. Learning:

I don’t browse memes on my phone all day. Phone, laptop (especially), is a primary source of learning for me. I spend weekends reading about writing, blogging or any general topic of interest. This week, I found it missing. In other words, my Sunday wasn’t productive when it comes to upskilling. There has to be a better way to go about it.

3. Extra Work

There are two aspects to this. One because I had nothing else to do and second: my wife was fully aware of this fact, I was handed over random household chores. As mentioned our maid was on leave this Sunday. That doesn’t mean I’d take out the clothes from the washing machine and put them up for drying. Also, shelling out peas from the pod was something I never signed up for. Sundays are meant to be lazy. While this technological fast was supposed to boost that sloth mode, on the contrary, I had to work even more.

Conclusion:

Before polarizing it between good or bad, I’d like to say that this was definitely worth a shot. If you are still reading this, there might be chance that you may feel that I am exaggerating. However, one has to experience it to know that this is NOT easy. You are spending the entire day without a thing that has been by your side 24×7. You wake up with it in the morning, you sleep with it in the night. And one fine day, it’s just not there. Takes a while before that thought seeps in.

Will I practice this regularly? Yes, but with some modifications. I can probably do away with my phone the entire day and work on laptop completely. That way, I would not be diverting my attention with constant notifications and would stay off social media for sure. This’ll help me hitting my learning goals too.

Digital wellbeing dashboard on technological fasting day
My Sunday Cellphone Usage Vs Regular Days

What are your thoughts on all this? Have you ever tried a technological fast before? Will you? I dare you!

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Until Next Time. . .

rgvdudeja
A techno manager by profession and a hardcore geek at heart. I love to poke my nose into tasks where other usually gave up on. My hobbies include, reading about latest trends in tech industry, playing guitar and yes, memes!
http://pandatechiein.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on “My First Technological Fasting Experience: A Step Towards Digital Wellbeing

  1. This is awesome.I am trying to do this from very long time but fail everytime. Let me try it this weekend. Will try to do nromal fasting as well

    1. Thanks Chirag. That’s the thing about it. We don’t try it because we think “Ye to ho hi jaega”. However, it is indeed challenging. All the best!

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