The Real Digital Detox

The Real Digital Detox

Digital detox is a big thing these days. There are even retreats based on this concept. Don’t rely on your phone or the Internet. Look outside & see the world through something that’s not an Instagram filter. Take a day per week “off”.

The Real Digital Detox


While I don’t disagree that being attached to your phone makes you in some kind of codependent relationship with an inanimate object, I disagree that the problem is solved by ignoring your phone. In fact, I think the digital “problem” is looked at the wrong way.


A digital detox isn’t about seeing the friends in your phone as wrong. I don’t actually think that most people are that addicted to their phone and notifications that it impacts the other parts of their lives. I think the problem needs re-framing. It’s about ensuring habitsΒ and people are sustainable and are the type of influence that you want in your life.


I have chosen that the internet will be a positive place. I therefore have given myself permission to use the mute, un-friend or block buttons across social media accounts. Β I think that everyone needs to do this. What someone else posts on social media; how they behave and everything else associated with them is outside your control.


Precisely because this is outside your control, you need to take the responsibility of creating the online space to be the way you want it to be. Which is where choosing who you follow and what you let in is critical.


Some bloggers have a comment policy, which I think is a great idea. It sets the community expectation and standards. I would use your comment policy as a way of developing your own online policy.


I think that controlling and moderating what you see online will reduce the need for a digital detox, because it is the real digital detox. With fewer negative influences, it creates a positive online space and “fits” in with you.


I’m not saying that you should never do a “traditional” detox and turn your phone off. I’m just saying that with a little though and control, the need for it is greatly reduced.


Have you ever done a digital detox? Do you control who you follow online?


25 Replies to “The Real Digital Detox”

  1. lol – I’m kind of posting about the same thing tomorrow – filtering, as opposed to abstaining… πŸ™‚

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Great minds πŸ™‚

  2. Absolutely! I think it’s a fluid thing, too. It’s good to be conscious of who you’re following/friends with and whether you’re enjoying and getting something positive out of the relationship. If the answer is no and/or you’re always skimming over their posts or pics (or even worse – rolling your eyes at them), then it’s time to unfollow. You’ll feel so much better for it! Time’s too precious.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Exactly! Why spend your time on things that you don’t like? It’s the same reason I’ve unfollowed most news media accounts, the world is just too depressing.

  3. You are so right about choosing who and what you follow (and what content you are “feeding” your mind).
    Thanks for the clarity, Jen

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I think we get so used to being told that something has been personalise for us online that we forget that it’s just an computer doing it – and that’ll never be as good as doing it yourself πŸ™‚ Glad to have helped Jen.

  4. Absolutely filter!! I think you have to. There is just too much there, and you have to choose what serves you, what sits well with you, makes you happy, challenges you, whatever filter you want to use, so that it doesn’t take over over your world.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Yes! And I like that you kept challenge in there too – this isn’t about removing things that don’t justify you to yourself, it’s about curating. And that includes keeping up to date and challenging yourself to progress.

  5. Very well said, I agree that turning off for a day does not solve the problem, it’s all about being mindful and not getting upset, bitter or nasty with the online world, if it’s making someone unhappy then maybe it’s time for that person to reconsider how they use it! Em, also visiting as part of #teamIBOT

  6. Great post! Sustainability in order to ward off being overwhelmed is a great strategy!

    1. It’s much better than an all or nothing method.

  7. Totally true! I have a young family friend who is constantly whining about so-and-so being horrible, but she won’t delete them! So I hid her from my feed! Filtering is what we need to be teaching our kids, something I’ll work on when mr12 discovers fb in high school next year.

    1. Yeah, there’s no reason to get caught up in someone else’s drama! And it’s tiring too.

  8. Great post Vanessa and some great ideas. In my work helping parents deal with their kids technology use (and their own) I am very big on advocating the type of content and people you are engaging with as well as having certain times of the day without the technology. For example, having rules about no devices at the dinner table and in bedrooms for kids can go a long way to helping them regulate their own behaviours as they get older. Having to completely detox may be ok for short term breaks but it isn’t really sustainable or necessarily beneficial. We need to be able to incorporate the tech into our lives in a way that works. Lets face it, it isn’t going anywhere so we can’t run away from it!

    1. Exactly, we will always be around social media, in whatever form it takes in the future. The important thing is to manage it. And sure, that takes trial and error, as well as revision over time as your tastes change and grow.

  9. Honestly I often find a digital detox ends with me having so many emails to deal with afterwards, that it’s worse than taking the break at all!
    I know when I need to step away from the phone. I think we all do. It’s just having a bit more self control.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I think that’s a big problem with an all-or-nothing approach, dealing with it afterwards just sets you right back to wanting to do another detox.

  10. I am so with you on this. I wrote a post last year I think (or earlier this year, who knows, I write so many!) about social media controlling people’s lives and how I think that is bullshit. We can decide what we will and won’t do online, what we do and don’t see. If we take responsibility and self-regulate, and takes steps to make our online space the way we want it to be then the problems that others experience don’t happen. I know what things will only make me unhappy or angry and so I choose to stay away from them (like particular websites that are about as good for you as women’s mags, despite their claim to the contrary, I don’t think I need to mention any names!). If something annoys me then I utilise the same block, unfriend, unfollow buttons that you do, and I’m a happier person for it. Social media for me is largely fun and positive and that’s the way I make it and like it.

    1. I know, I used to read women’s magazines because I was “supposed” to. That’s what you do, right? Then one day I had read one and thought, “wow, this is utter BS”. On one page it tells you to love yourself, then it’s full of ads telling you the only way to be hot is to buy/say/do this. I thought screw that! And there certainly are online equivalents these days.

  11. Oh hell yes I love this and filtering is such an awesome idea. I cannot believe how hurt and down I can get by things I read online that I really dont HAVE to read. A digital detox sounds like the most excellent idea ever xx

    1. Exactly! I stopped following most media outlets because I was just sick of doom and gloom.

  12. I agree Vanessa. The power is in our hands on who we choose to follow. I choose times during the day when to go on social media so I’m not on it all the time. I have little people that need my attention. πŸ™‚

    1. That’s an even better idea – schedule your time for social media. And you’ve got your hands full with more important things πŸ™‚

  13. I think filtering is a smart idea, but I also think we all need space from the digital world. I really don’t use my phone much at all for social media or internet and I hardly get to use the IPAD at home (kids and all). So my digital space is at my computer, and I shifted from a laptop to an Imac desktop (which I love) – I find it makes me a bit more conscious about digital use – when I’m on my computer I’ve retreated away from my family and when I’m off it, I’m more present.

    1. Time off certainly has its merits – I’ve started dividing tasks up by device a little. Nearly all my social media is done via my phone (easy for commuting) and most of my writing on my laptop.

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