The results were an eye-opener. A much-quoted report in 2013 by KPCB reported an average of 150 mobile sessions a day, but that was then. In fact, the real-time results from Dscout revealed that we tap, type, swipe and click 2,617 times a day. The top ten percent of heavy users doubled that figure to a scary 5,427 touches a day. That’s texts, Tinder, Kindle, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp…and maybe even the odd email from the boss about that report you were supposed to have finished.
Some commentators see this as evidence the human race is reprogramming its own neural pathways. The gloomier ones think we’re evolving to an attention span shorter than the average goldfish. But there’s a simple way to discover if, like the self-deluding boast of a hard drinker, we can ‘give it up any time we want’. And that’s to give it up.
If you want a fancy title for this, you can call it a ‘Digital Detox’. It certainly sounds better than telling your friends and colleagues that you plan on ignoring them for a week. There’s even a holiday company that can offer you a global choice of detox packages, tech-free accommodation (no Wi-Fi, no phone, no TV in the room) and even ‘Highly Disconnected’ retreats where your mobile phone won’t work either.
Alternatively, you can just do-it-yourself. It doesn’t have to be for a week. Just switch off the phone, go hiking, go camping, go cycling, or just sit on a beach and watch the world go by. For the first hour or so you’ll feel a bit fidgety, but give it time, relax and you might find your thoughts lazily forming and rising to the surface of your consciousness like bubbles of air from an ocean floor. Or maybe you’ll get around to finally reading that critically acclaimed novel you’ve been putting off in favour of the latest social media likes from your friends and acquaintances.
If that sounds good, or if digital detoxing is something you already do for the sake of your sanity, let us know. Sadly, you’ll need a digital device in order to post a comment – but you can leave that till you get back from vacation. Happy summer holidays!