Lucy and Sarina’s detoxes were the investigation’s stepping off-point. Having personal experiences under our wing, the next step was to find fellow Australians – if they existed – who had similarly attempted a Digital Sabbath.
A quick Google search hit upon Sydney copywriter Kate Toon. “I’m a digital junkie. A serious addict,” she writes on her blog. “If I’m not ‘facebooking’, I’m ‘tweeting’. I Google myself almost daily. I join at least three new social network or directories a week. You know all those links that people post? I read them. All of them. And then I comment. And then I comment on others’ comments … I get emotional when I see the rainbow wheel. If the internet connection wavers I come out in a cold sweat.”
Her digital habits compelled her to attempt a week long switch-off. We contacted her to see how it went.
“In all honesty, I failed miserably,” she told The Digital Sabbath. “I think I lasted three days. It was just too hard to carry on my everyday life without it. I use the internet for pretty much everything – shopping, banking, socialising, finding places, work – so without it I was in a kind of cocoon, and I didn’t like it.”
For three days she managed no phone, computer, TV, or iPod – “back to basics.” Toon filled the digital gap with more exercise, cooking, sleep and family time, which she says made her generally more relaxed.
But other life imperatives crept in. “It was impossible for me to do any work without my laptop and an internet connection. I’d argue it would be pretty hard for any contemporary business to get by without digital. Having an email and website is now as essential as having a phone number,” she says.
“I missed out on a few jobs however, and we went overdrawn! So that was a touch annoying.”
Yet the experience wasn’t totally unfruitful. “I’m [now] conscious of my digital addiction, and I’m working to make it manageable within the confines of reality,” says Toon. “I’d definitely recommend everyone to try dumping their digital devices for a day.”
It’s now resulted in a few new boundaries in the Toon household: no computers before 7am or after 7pm, no television for her son until four o’clock, no screens in the bedroom – phones or laptops. “Also,” she says, “on days when I’m with my son, I turn the ‘out of office’ on and ignore work. Hard when working for oneself, but I want to set my son a good example.”
Toon also believes a National Day of Unplugging a la the US could work in Australia, given our love events like Earth Hour. “Surely EVERYONE could manage for one day, even me.”
“Like anything,” she continues, “it was good to give it a go … I’d try it again, but perhaps when I don’t have so much on.”