Are You in Need of a Digital Diet?
*Adapted from an article originally published on The Huffington Post
If you’ve ever tried to have a meaningful conversation with someone who is tech-obsessed, you know how futile your efforts can be. It doesn’t help that they’re hunched over, heads down, their darting eyes can’t focus on yours (when they deign to look up from their iPhones) and they nod a lot at random times to give the impression that they’re listening, but are so clearly not. They may either apologize for their manic thumbs with an “I’m sorry, I just have to answer this email” or forgo social etiquette altogether and just type away in your presence.
Ms. Manners would not approve.
Daniel Sieberg, tech guru and correspondent for major networks like ABC, MSNBC, CBS and CNN, too found himself becoming a victim of this effect from his digital overindulgence. Like so many others, Sieberg was addicted to technology. As a result of his desire to “de-tech” and streamline his own technology intake, the idea for his book, The Digital Diet: The 4-step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life came to life.
He created a program that he could use to evaluate the role of technology in his life in the hopes that on the other end, he would find balance and more authentic relationships. It worked for him and will for others as well. Sieberg stresses that this Diet is not about eradicating all technology and living as a Luddite – we all know that’s not realistic in this day and age. Instead, it presents an opportunity for us to take an honest look at our lives and assess what is and isn’t working. This Digital Diet is “designed to guide you to a new life in four weeks…The ripple effects could improve everything from your familial relations to your marriage to your work performance. The ultimate goal is to “improve yourself,” says Sieberg.
The Digital Diet takes place over four weeks and happens in the following four phases:
Step 1 // Re: Think: Consider how immersed you are in technology. Be honest. What is the effect it has had on your physical, mental and emotional health?
Step 2 // Re: Boot: Use Sieberg’s innovative Virtual Weight Index to quantify the impact technology has on your daily life. What’s your VWI?
Step 3 // Re: Connect: Yes, there actually are ways other than email and text to communicate with a loved one. Restore those valuable relationships.
Step 4 // Re: Vitalize: Re-introduce technology into your life with your new outlook. Find a healthy balance and use technology to help you.
The key throughout the process is to be honest with yourself and take a look at the quality of life and assess if technology is contributing for the better. Sieberg urges people to ask themselves the following questions:
- Have you ever realized that you were texting while your child was telling you about her day at school and later couldn’t remember any of the details of the story?
- Does a ringing/vibrating cell phone interrupt and trump everything else?
- Do you feel anxious if you’re offline for any length of time?
- Do you know you shouldn’t be texting and driving – but still do it?
- Have you ever felt that something hasn’t really happened until you post it on Facebook or tweet about it?
- Do you find that your family can be in the same room but not talking to one another because you’re each interacting with a different device?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s pretty safe to say that technology is not contributing for the better. Cut the fat – fat being gadgets – and give the Digital Diet a test run. If not for you, then at least do it for your dinner companion who really doesn’t want to see you texting at the table anymore.