“The internet used to be an escape from reality, now reality is an escape from the internet” – Unknown
My smartphone is like an additional part of my body these days, its always right there in my hand or at hand in my pocket. I spend countless hours scrolling through various social media apps and watching endless hours of YouTube videos. I admit, I am addicted to my phone.
How did this happen? I am the only generation to have a phone free childhood but to then embrace the technology in my teens. But back then it was just calls and texts and maybe a game of Snake. Somewhere along the line the smartphone came and took over my life and I didn’t see or feel it coming, but now I can’t live without it, or so I thought.
So what is Offline 48?
From following Venetia Falconer and Max La Manna on social media I heard of about something they were doing at weekends where they didn’t use their phones at all and they called it #offline48. The concept being you turned your phone off on a Friday night and didn’t turn it on again until the weekend was over on Sunday night. Basically though you make it what you want, if you need to keep your phone on for emergencies then that’s fine but just don’t use the phone.
I liked the idea instantly, however I had the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO). Fear that I would miss something. Fear that I’d miss some important piece of social media. Fear that I’d have lots of Instagram messages that need replying too. A general fear of missing something. It took me many months before I embraced the idea and tried it.
How I decided to do it.
Offline 48 can be whatever you want or need it to be. For me I decided that I didn’t need to turn my phone off completely, I just needed to not use social media. I’m not addicted to texting, I don’t use my phone a lot for other things. My addiction is social media. I therefore decided to turn off all notifications from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube and used my phone as if it was the old Nokia I used to play Snake on.
Did it change my weekend?
In a word, YES! My wife did the challenge with me and we honestly had a great weekend. We did things we wouldn’t normally do. We went to a coffee shop and just simply read a book. We played cards on the Saturday night and just enjoyed each others company. We watched a film on the Sunday night and totally invested our time in it without the distraction of our phones. We lived in the moment, each and every moment.
Was it difficult?
Actually no. I only had rare moments where I picked my phone up out of habit when I had a little down time and then quickly remembered about the challenge. I found it super simple and totally refreshing to be at complete ease without my phone. I actually had the best nights sleep I’d had in a long time on the Saturday night.
Did I miss anything when I went back online?
Barely a thing! 1 message on instagram, a few comments and likes on photos and that social media post I had the FOMO on didn’t exist. I had forgotten about 1 football match I was interested in and that’s it. Which made me think, was I actually interested in it? Was it just that I’d read about it beforehand on social media and that made me think I was interested? I think the latter. If I was really interested I would have remembered.
What did I learn?
I learned that I was more addicted that I thought and its totally changed my relationship with my phone. When I went back online I unfollowed over 100 people on Instagram and half as many on Twitter. It’s made me conscious of how I live my life and has reminded me to live in the moment. I no longer sit and scroll endlessly and I now enjoy the time I do spend online more than I did.
Will I now do this every weekend? No. Following my first weekend of #offline48 I repeated it again the next 2 weekends. After this I realised that for now I’d taken everything I needed from this challenge. It had already made me change my habits and I don’t feel the need to do it every weekend. That said I think its the perfect reset tool if you fall back into bad habits of endlessly scrolling and I will do it whenever I feel the need to.
Can you do it?
The answer is YES. If you’ve read this and its made you curious then do it! Spend a weekend being mindful, being present and being in the moment. Enjoy the time with your family, appreciate the time with your friends and increase your productivity. What do you have to lose?