After another late-night binge of Crushed Candy, I’ve decided I need to reevaluate my digital diet. It’s healthy to take some time to unplug, recharge, power down, change my batteries, turn myself on and then off again and then on again, upgrade to my latest operating system, and restart.
Am I nervous about adjusting to non-digital life? Sure. How do people know if someone has been brave if not with the hashtag #brave? How will I know if someone is talking to me if they don’t tag my handle in their reply? I’m hoping to find answers during my cleanse.
I’ll start by deleting my social media apps from my phone. Goodbye, Instagram. See ya, Snapchat. No more Venmo, email, or Measuring app for me. Why use my phone camera when I’ve got two very nearsighted eyes and a perfectly okay memory? Why FaceTime my friends when I could just shout in my yard loudly until someone responds—you know, the old fashioned way? There are so many real-life equivalences to online things! Did you know podcasts are based on eavesdropping on people at a coffee shop? And the Notes app is based on an actual thing? Wild, I know, but it’s true.
I’m sure, at least initially, I’ll miss the cheese emoji and the burger emoji and the gifs of Jennifer Lawrence talking about pizza. Ooh, maybe I’ll start juicing! I found this amazing digital detox channel on YouTube called “Will It Blend.” They throw phones, chargers, tablets, entire entertainment systems into a blender, grind it up, and I’m assuming drink it off-camera. I’ll definitely have to try one of those recipes during my cleanse, subbing in oat milk for the charger, obviously.
This will be the perfect time to start walking more. Nothing says “digital detox” like getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. I can’t wait to take long, leisurely strolls around my neighborhood at 8pm/7 central past the houses with big windows and large HDTVs. I miss listening to the sounds of the world around me: birds singing, wind through the trees, sitcom laugh tracks through open windows, the neighbor kids yelling “Mom! She’s back again!” Nature is so peaceful.
With all my freed up time not staring at screens, I’ll have the chance to take up new hobbies. I’ve always wanted to learn how to read an analog clock or decipher other people’s laptop stickers. This will definitely be the push I need to start reading more. Maybe I’ll actually finish reading the decorative quote hanging up in my kitchen or print off all of Facebook so I can finally find out how it ends.
My day has become so focused around consumption. I’ll use this time to give back, round up all my old selfies and donate them to charity or offer up my old AOL Instant Messenger screen names to someone who could actually use them. I almost don’t remember who I am without a Snapchat filter. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to draw a puppy face on my actual human face or put real butterflies in my hair.
I’ll admit, I’ve been struggling with communication. I knew I was long overdue for a cleanse when I realized all my texts were just emoji conversations back and forth. I can’t wait to run into my friends while I’m on my cleanse. I’ll say, out loud, “we should get lunch sometime!” and then give them a spoon and fork. When’s the last time you actually said “I love you” and then handed that person an actual, human heart?
We could all use a digital cleanse every once in awhile. Put down our phones and computers. Pick up our sundials and abacuses. Who couldn’t use a break from liking and retweeting to meditate, reconnect, and think of tweets you could be tweeting? At the end of my cleanse, I’m hoping to come back more centered, rejuvenated, and with many, many good tweets.
Mia Mercado’s writing has been featured in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Bustle, and a bottle she threw into the Milwaukee River when she was nine.