If you’ve been following along here on Tiny Ambitions, you know we just completed an epic move. Two days and 1400km (900ish miles for my American friends), in a moving truck with Mr. Tiny Ambitions and our cat was not an easy undertaking. But, it had a very interesting side benefit.
Because we were moving from Southern to Northern Ontario, I had no cell phone service for the majority of the trip. Zilch, nada, total dead zone. In fact, on the second day of the drive, most of our trip was through “Unorganized Areas”, areas that are not covered by any municipality, lower-level government or Indian Reserve and have very little to zero population. Since there’s no government in these areas (save for the provincial government), there is also no service for things like water, or cell phones. Hence why, almost every time I wanted to update you guys on our journey, I couldn’t.
These unorganized areas could have interesting applications for the tiny house movement in Ontario, which I will write about in a future post. But, for now, let’s stick with my accidental social media detox.
It was only after our trip was completed that I realized I had accidentally done a social media detox. In this instance, I’m defining social media detox as ‘not spending hours scrolling through all my feeds’, since, I did still occasionally post when I did have service (and WiFi. Sweet, glorious, totally underrated Wifi). We left early Friday morning and were driving/moving/unpacking until Sunday night. That’s almost 3 solid days of unconnected bliss!
As brief as it was, the detox had some interesting benefits, specifically on how I felt. All of what follows is anecdotal and just my own personal mind and body experience.
I enjoyed my surroundings.
Yes, a lot of Canada is pretty (I know I’m biased, but still). But, I can honestly say that the drive from Southern to Northern Ontario is mind-blowingly gorgeous. Since I didn’t have my face glued to my phone (because I couldn’t), I could actually appreciate the scenery. There was nothing else to do, but sit back and drink in the sunshine, trees, mountains and desolate rural towns. I had never been to most of the places we drove through, so it was even more of an experience.
I don’t want to romanticise nature (and the outdoors) in any way. I know it’s not all meadows, baby deer, and dew drops. However, it’s hard not to be influenced by its sheer vastness and beauty, which becomes even more apparent when that’s all you’ve seen out of the window for two straight days.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but nature is scientifically proven (link to an actual scientific study) to make you feel better. Which, brings me to my next benefit!
I wasn’t a basketcase.
In my recent day-to-day life, I’ve noticed some unfortunate habits forming. I get tense whenever I see a notification pop-up in an app. I’ve actually begun to dread having to check my phone, out of fear for what I might find.
“Will this famous blogger like my tweet?”
“Why hasn’t my photo received more lies?”
“Is this commenter going to tear me apart?”
At the end of the second day, I distinctly remember noticing how I didn’t have any tension or tightness in my forehead or shoulders. Feeling “normal” was weird because it’s been so far removed from my daily experience lately. It’s like I got my body back from whatever tension infested person was inhabiting it before.
I also had a good night’s sleep for the first time in weeks! I don’t know if it was because we had an actual bed to sleep in (as opposed to the couch, and yoga mats we had been using), or because I sleep better when Mr. Tiny Ambitions is around, or because I didn’t have a blue orb in my face right before bed. All I know is that I slept. And, it was glorious.
I realized I have a “real” life.
It’s easy to get sucked into a “FOMO” mentality, which can make it difficult to want to disconnect. But, I’ve realized that I have a real life outside of social media. All of our social networks exist in a brick rectangle we call our phones. When we put that brick down, the virtual world falls away and our real life has a chance to emerge.
The best part of what is that this virtual connection will still be there the next time we pick up our phones (or in my case, have cell reception). It’s not going anywhere.You can tap into your social media when you want to. They don't have to be your whole life. Click To Tweet
For the two days that we were on the road, my life consisted of a moving truck, our cat, and Mr. Tiny Ambitions. And, for those two days, they were all I needed.
Where do I go from here?
Well, if anything, this accidental detox has helped me re-learn that social media is a tool. And, when used within healthy boundaries, it can add, rather than subtract from my life. Since the trip, I’ve noticed my level of physical and mental tension increase, one day at a time. Which, makes my ‘next-steps’ all the more important.
I haven’t quite figured out what those boundaries look like for my life yet (I’m a work in progress, you guys!). However, I think I need to more closely regulate my time on social media. That way, I can dictate when/how to engage more meaningfully and mindfully instead of just using social media as an instant gratification outlet when I’m bored. In practice, maybe that looks like only ‘logging on’ at specific times of the day and letting my phone be a paperweight otherwise. Maybe that means replacing the smartphone twitch with a healthier habit. Since our new apartment is enormous, I could walk the perimeter every time I feel like checking my phone?
I’m just typing out loud at this point, I’d love to know your thoughts on this!