Why We’re Missing Out on Real Life

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve identified two deficits in our modern lives — the lack of sprinting and the lack of walking – and proposed a series of corresponding challenges to address (and hopefully fill) those deficits. Judging from the responses, I think these articles were  successful. Today, I’m trying my hand at highlighting another problem, this time one that has nothing to do with physical fitness. In fact, it deals with perhaps the most physically inactive activity you’ll ever do: staring at a smartphone as the world gets on around you. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-technology (duh), or even anti-smartphone (got one myself). I have the accumulated knowledge of the world in my pocket, and that’s pretty darn useful. I can find out where to get the best Greek food within five miles. I can bank, I can order flights to far off lands, I can check traffic, I can check shopping lists, read email, text, tweet, friend, defriend, like, oh, and make phone calls – all from the comfort of my 3.5 inch touch screen. That’s incredible. It also makes it really, really easy to get too comfortable and avoid actually experiencing the real, physical world.

I mean, when you stop and step outside of yourself for a second, and you think about the level of technology we can access, it starts feeling like we’re in the future. Of course, the future will never actually feel like “The Future” because we’ll have caught up to it and gotten used to it, but if a Connecticut Yankee appeared in our midst from the 19th (or even late 20th) century, he’d be blown away. It’s awesome and empowering and all those great things, but is there a dark side to it, too?

Our relationship with technology is not quite as dire as a Philip K. Dick novel, with programmable moods and emotions replacing real ones and electric pets replacing organic ones. It’s also not quite like the Jetsons, where flying cars, robot maids, moving sidewalks, auto-cooking kitchens, and other advanced tech enhanced human engagement with the world and its inhabitants. Ours lies somewhere in between. We’re getting along, it’s not a dystopia, but I think there are some very real problems that need to be acknowledged. Namely, smartphones, social media, and the Internet in general has changed the way we experience the world. For many, it has replaced engagement with the real physical world almost entirely. And that’s bad. We’re really missing out.

Okay, how about some stats? Let’s see what we’re dealing with.

In Britain, 81% of smartphone users have it on all day, every day. Almost half of smartphone users, upon being woken up by a phone call or text or misplaced alarm at night, end up using the phone instead of shutting it off and going back to sleep. Over half of adults and two-thirds of teens regularly use their phones while socializing with others in person (there’s nothing like a tableful of people staring at their phones in unison, is there?). About a quarter of adults use their phone during dinner. A third of teens can say the same. 47% of teens use their phones on the toilet, while just over a fifth of adults do the same (don’t they know the bathroom is for thumbing through the wife’s Cosmo?).

In the US, 59% of teens admit that they go online too much, 58% say they use smartphones way too much, and 48% use Facebook (and other social media sites). Of course, they admit it, but they don’t do anything about it. But hey, at least they’re watching less TV!

Internet Addiction Disorder is now a real thing, gaining acceptance as a legitimate clinical disorder and characterized by the classic trappings of a substance addiction. A series of studies out of China have found large structural differences between the brains of Internet addicts and controls, including impairments in white matter fibers involved in emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control (PDF). I’m not saying we’re all full-blown Internet addicts, but there’s a spectrum, and I think a lot of people are hurtling along it.

Near as I can tell, this is a real problem. A recent study even found that people who stopped checking their email for a week were more productive and experienced less stress (as indicated by the heart rate monitors attached to them for the duration of the experiment) than the folks who maintained their email habits. Those who checked emails switched windows an average of 37 times per hour, while the email abstainers switched windows just 18 times per hour. More than objective effects on productivity and stress, though, I just find it really sad to see people miss out on life because they “had” to check their phone. It’s sad seeing strollers full of wide-eyed babies who are absolutely amazed at everything they’re seeing – that bushy squirrel tail flashing across the powerline overhead, the cat sunning itself on the sidewalk, a garbage can left out from garbage day, a bush, a cloud, a man on a recumbent bike, a leaf fluttering down from treetops  – pushed by moms and dads with their eyes glued to their 3.5 inch screens, totally oblivious to the sensory explosions going on in their offspring but completely up-to-date on whether or not someone “liked” their most recent status update. “Ooh, red notification!” At least take a photo of the kid or something, sheesh.

Okay, time to fess up.

In the past week, what’s the longest you’ve gone without checking your smartphone, surfing the web, or checking Facebook, Twitter, or your email? Just give a ballpark figure. You don’t need to be exact. Sleep doesn’t count (nice try). Waking hours only.

So here’s your challenge for the week: don’t use your phone or check your email after 7 PM for the next seven days. Extenuating circumstances? Sure, fine. Don’t lose your job over this or anything like that, but do your best to avoid those frivolous mindless thoughtless check-ins “just because.”

This may sound easy. 7 PM? Psh. Assuming you go to bed around 10, 10:30, 11 PM, that’s just a few hours of downtime. You can do that. Right? I was originally going to make it a bit more hardcore, but I think this is easy enough that everyone can hit it if they try, and dramatic enough that you’ll see and feel a real difference.

We’ll see. If it was so easy, if real life was so preferable to a smartphone, you’d already be doing it on your own. Don’t disappoint me!

One more thing: don’t just turn off the phone and close the laptop and turn on the TV. No, do something. Go out dancing. Light some candles and have a game night. Go for a walk. Go for a night hike. Take a short vacation (and leave the phone altogether). Engage with the physical world and its inhabitants, face to face. And let this engagement with the world carry over to the rest of your time, your “connected” time. Smartphone usage and being present are not mutually exclusive, believe it or not.

Please, whatever you do, keep that phone off, in your pocket, or back at home when you go on a walk with your kid. Don’t shuffle along, oblivious to the world around you, eyes and attention trained on that screen.

Okay, I’ve said my piece. Now it’s your turn. Get out there and stop missing out on real life!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

178 thoughts on “Why We’re Missing Out on Real Life”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Oh, I feel like we’re living in The Future. I say as much whenever I pull out my phone to look up information about whatever I want, from where-ever I want, whenever I want. Yes, I agree entirely that such information accessibility is a double-edged sword, but still… When you think about how much information I have access to, in comparison to what our thousands of millions of ancestors had…well…we must literally seem like gods by comparison.

    1. We have tons of information, but most of us lack the knowlege to truly apply it. Worse, the vast majority of information on the Internet is just noise.

      1. Technology and the internet tests our gullibility yet can hone our ability to identify the truth, when the truth appears. Unfortunately you often must wade though s**t to find the truth. But that is life in this world. Most of the best knowledge of living wisely, taking care our health, the earth, and each other – important information to be passed on to our children, has been hi-jacked by corporate interests. But websites like this one are presenting a lot of truth about those very things, making up for a lot of the damage, and proving healthy ethical traditions to pass along.

      2. What I’ve also started to realize is that this easy access to any and all information has allowed people to become “lazy” in terms of what knowledge they actually hold. What’s the point in knowing a fact or how to do something when you can just look it up online when you need to? It’s like the internet is replacing our brains…we are holding less knowledge ourselves and relying on the internet to provide it for us. It honestly scares me, especially after seeing the movie Idiocracy. I fear that’s actually where we’re heading.

        1. LOL, yes. I encounter scenarios that remind me of the movie Idiocracy on a regular basis. Scary.

        2. I agree! I see things ALL the time that make me think of that movie. We call it a documentary! hahaha

  2. I’m young and attached to my phone. It really is sad whenever I think about it. I’m going to try my best to complete the challenge. I can’t lie, it will be hard. Luckily, I get to see my niece this weekend, which never fails to make me forget about my phone.

  3. Mark — you shouldn’t tell us your answer, it will bias the result… !

  4. For the challenge, I’m probably going to have to do no internet at all after 7 pm. Otherwise, I’ll be too tempted to check my email.

  5. I hardly go anywhere without my iPhone but rarely do anything with it except make/answer phone calls (even though I have a ton of cool apps). I’m a Luddite at heart–I like books, paper maps, working with my hands. Since I spend all day working at a computer for my job, I’ve declared Saturday a tech-free day. I’ll answer my iPhone if it rings, but that’s about it.

    1. I once disconnected my Iphone service (it’s expensive for just one line) and planned to just use my house phone.

      More than a few family members and friends freaked out. They did not like it at all that they did not have instant access to me.

      I tried telling everyone that if they left me a message I would call them back when I got it. I had to reconnect my Iphone.

      Part of our problem is that we have grown accustomed to instant gratification, and satisfying impulse upon arisal.

      Patience and delaying gratification seem like ancient virtues now.

      Can anyone even imagine waiting to hear from someone by mail? Like with a postage stamp and everything?

      1. I abandoned my mobile phone for (the more expensive) land-line. Did this when I had my son- did some research on the DNA dangers of phones. Oh the freedom outside- so lovely. That was easy enough, but now everyone emails me instead of text/phoning… How can I dump the ‘net?! Well and truly sucked in to this one…
        I was wondering when this subject would come up.
        On ya Mark. Voicing the great subconscious… keeping us honest with ourselves.
        : )

      2. I amaze people when I admit that I pay for my cell phone by the minute – so no, it’s not a smart phone. And my husband doesn’t have a smart phone either – his is a work phone, so he doesn’t use it much outside of work (unless it is a work call). My cell phone also doesn’t do messages, so people really either have to call my landline (and leave a message if I don’t answer) or they have to send emails…

        And while I just finished sending out lots of postcards on vacation, I really don’t get much personal mail from people otherwise…

        Ah, the wonders of technology (or not).

        1. I amaze people when I tell them I don’t have a mobile phone. I had one before, when work provided it, but have never had a smart phone. And I’m a software engineer. Have always loved technology. I’ve even worked on apps for the phones I don’t have.

          While it would be nice to have in certain circumstances I haven’t found it to be necessary. Some people ask me “What about emergencies?” And talk about how kids in school have them in case of emergencies. I state that I will deal with it the same way I did and my father did before the things became commonplace. It’s been 2 years since I’ve had a mobile phone, I’ve been getting along fine.

  6. Hurray, for challenges and experiments! Keep them coming Mark!

    1. I agree! These are fun. I was able to do the walking one, though I am saving the sprinting one for a couple of weeks down the road, as I am in the middle of doing a 4-week-to-run-a-mile training program (made for those of us who have never really run in our lives!). This one sounds great.

  7. I frequently turn off the computer and leave my phone at home while my husband and I are enjoying our weekends. It amazes my how angry people get when you are unreachable, as if having cell phones means I have to be instantly at someone elses disposal 24-7.

    1. I get on my husband’s case all the time about his face being burried in his phone. It also drives me nuts when people get mad that they can’t get a hold of me. I tell everyone the phone is for my convenience, not theirs, unless they want to pay my bill.

      1. +1 on the convenience thing. And I get funny looks from people when I don’t run to the other room and get my phone when it rings. Just because it rings doesn’t mean I have to answer it.

        1. +1 on both of these. I get on my boyfriend, for texting or looking something up while were out to dinner or having a serious conversation. Dude – I’m here not in the phone. Is whoever texting more important than me and the kids?
          And then he gets on me cause my phone is on vibrate cause I can’t hear it.. Sorry I’m not going to run for my phone every time it goes off.

      2. Matt

        I idolize you. From the very beginning of telecommunications, it was always an intrusion to call anybody without permission. K

  8. I love this post, although I can’t relate… yet. I’ve managed to resist getting a smartphone for the very reason that I don’t want to become glued to it at the expense of the rest of my life! With the iPhone 5 coming, I thought I would make the leap, but then again, what would I be missing? Nothing. Your post has steeled my resolve to keep the phone I already have (which is the equivalent of a caveman’s phone in comparison to any smartphone!). Until it dies, anyway. 😉

    That said, I could definitely try to use less time online in the evenings, so I’ll modify the challenge and stop checking my email intermittently in the evening and before bed.

    1. Me too on this one. I have a mobile phone that takes phone calls and sends texts:that’s it. No camera, no apps, oh I think it has an alarm somewhere. I do get glued to my iPad, so I am aware of this, and will endeavor to put it down, and knit the jumper I planned for this winter.
      I have watched people interact with their phones like they are a precious child, cradling them while they find a seat on the train, and then punch their 4 digit code in and poof, they zone out. It’s a bit creepy.

  9. This is a great challenge, something I struggle with daily being a stay at home mom. It is easier to give up the devices in the warmer months than to do it through the winter months. Technology is a slow fade. I never had a smart phone until this Christmas and purposely haven’t put my email on it. I am good at checking email 2x’s a day…now Facebook ….. a whole other monster. Trying to only resort to that a few times a day and short spurts…this challenge will be good to reconnect with my family.

  10. This post has inspired me to leave work early and enjoy the beautiful weather I can see through the window. I’ll direct my boss to this post if he asks why I’m leaving.

  11. I have an iPhone. My boyfriend has an old Nokia brick phone. And it is not at all because he can’t afford a smartphone – he can – he doesn’t WANT one. At first I was appalled by his choice of phone, but now I really admire it. He feels absolutely no need to have constant access to the internet, update his Facebook (which he also doesn’t have), or play angry birds during date nights. We spend our time hiking, cooking, going out, reading… He’s also challenged me to rely on my phone less and less for my normal life function. When we’re together we don’t use Google maps – and it amazes me how much better he is at finding his own way that my Google-map-dependent self. I have no intention of getting rid of my iPhone, it is fabulous for many things, but my perspective has certainly shifted. Because of my lessened reliance on my smart phone, I feel like I live REAL life so much more!

    1. Good for your boyfriend…

      Since I’m already addicted to my home computer the last thing I need is a iPhone. And we just dumped our old Verizon flip-phone for a tracfone. Saving about $400.00 a year.

  12. This will be a fun challenge! I have been trying to cut back on my compulsive email/Facebook/Internet checking. The last few days I’ve been doing better; I am online for an hour or so looking at websites and working on my blog, then a few minutes during my son’s nap, and after dinner. I’m going to try to cut out the evening technology. When I force myself to put away the computer or Blackberry, I really connect much better with my family. More challenges, please, Mark!

  13. I did five days without technology, electricity (except for heating,) clocks and transport earlier this year. It was eye-opening…and not at the same time.

    It was soooooo relaxing, I was so calm and productive the whole time but when I got back to the real world – the vibrancy of just a simple trip to Target in the car was like a huge adventure. Colors! Light! Sound!

    I came away thinking that if we could balance the two, it would be perfect – access to information (and therefore power) along with occasional intense sensory input balanced with calm, peace, home and hearth. I still haven’t worn a watch since then (it was in January) but the constant pull of my small blue screen requires constant vigilance.

    1. Thanks to Hurrican Irene I did 9 days without electricity. Not cool when you have well water…

      1. 5 days for me, thanks to Hurricane Charley. Definitely not cool without well water. Or A/C. In August. In SW Florida….

  14. Ditch the phone! No cell phones in our house. PC is enough, and that’s easy to cut back on. I’m always in dismay when I’m with someone and they put me on pause to stare into their hand. I put up with it, but it’s extremely rude and I’d never do it to someone else. On a bike ride, there’s no phone to ring. Just me and the road. On a walk in the woods to forage food, no distracting beeps – I’m free to notice patterns and make mental notes about which plants are doing what without being interrupted. These addicts are missing out on a whole chunk of general cognition, the kind of thinking that takes place over time when the mind is not distracted and takes hours to actualize.

    1. I’m with you on this one! Well, I have a basic cell phone, but it is my only phone.

  15. er… Can I do more sprints instead?

    I’ll *try* to not check my phone while being social. Although, at this point, I might stand out for not doing so. (They *might* believe me if I say I forgot my phone or my charger.)

    If that works, I might be able to swing at least once weekly where the phone is off 3-5 hours before I go to bed.

    1. By “Sprints”, are you refering to using the mobile provider for brief period of time or actual running 🙂

      1. Nice!
        As actual as I run. I’m pretty slow. I finish a 15K in about 2 hours. But I finish it & am not completely wrecked by the run. (It’s the heat & beer that do me in… although, perhaps not this year.)

  16. I am 23 and I HATE sitting at a table with friends and ALL of us are staring at our phones. I have made it a resolution this year to be present with the people in front of me. I think they really appreciate it. I know I dont feel important when I am in the middle of a story and they pull out a phone and start texting someone else.

    1. YES! This times a million. It is the most irritating thing in the world when you make plans with someone and they spend the whole time checking their phone. The funny thing is if there’s a night I know they’re hanging out with someone else, they spend the whole time texting me. Presence is so important

      1. I think it is so RUDE when you are hanging out with friends and everyone is on their phone. I think its almost an UNSPOKEN rule among my friends that we put the phones away when hanging out.

  17. My problem is taking calls when my kids are walking with me. Walks are perfect for getting your kids to talk to you, so I am going to make a point to not take those calls.

    Thanks for not vilifying technology. It’s all about using the tools we have reasonably. Balancing life.

  18. I must say this is one of the biggest contributors to hard feeling I have towards my wife. I have to compete with her smart phone for any attention. And the smart phone wins.

  19. Interesting choice of posts, considering 50% of the commenters for yesterday’s post wanted an app!

  20. Good article! I’m totally up for this challenge. I need to disconnect more.

    I’m blown away at how many parents I see at the playground with their heads down staring at their phones, while their little ones go on about playing and being children… it’s really sad actually..

    1. Meh. I’m not buying into guilt on this one. My kids don’t need me to watch their every movement, every moment. I used to go to the park alone, or roam the neighborhood with a pack of other kids. Were my parents missing out on my precious development? Was I missing out on my parents’ nurturing presence? No. We were doing our own things and it was awesome.

    2. That said, I find the number of babies tucked away in car seats and strollers and ignored like so much baggage to be appalling. And the fact that jogging strollers come with iPod holders. Not being able to see *or* hear your baby… Yeah, that’s good parenting.

  21. I don’t have a smartphone (dumped that fun-stealer last fall) but the computer definitely commands all of my attention. I accept this challenge and will shut down internet access at 7pm. Maybe I will finally finish my writing projects!

    Thanks for the push!

  22. I’ve managed to shun technology pretty effectively for the past few years.

    Especially when travelling abroad, I don’t take a phone and only check e-mails every month or so.

    Whenever I’m travelling with a friend who insists on using a mobile, I scowl at them until they stop or abandon them.

    I think this makes me a better person.

  23. I’m skeptical. Who is this “we” you speak of?

    Technology saves labor which reduces stress.

    I work behind a laptop all day and I tend to not be on it when I am not working but I still use my mobile phone which can do almost everything my PC can do…and I am less stressed for not having to sit behind my laptop when I am not “on the clock”.

    Besides, it seems incompatible to use the interwebz to critique the way technology affects “our” livelihoods.

  24. My New Year’s resolution was to unplug…the laptop and blackberry are put away at 6pm weekdays and they don’t get used on weekends, holidays or vacations any more. Life is much much better!

  25. I remembered this weekend’s “Mom & Kids” overnight camping trip and thought, “Ha! Great timing! I get to check the 8+ box!” Then I remember I sent 2 texts to my husband while we were camping — one to let him know we arrived safely and one to send him a picture of the kids fishing. I did forgo all e-mail, phone calls, web surfing and other electronics while camping. We were certainly fully engaged in “real life” out in nature. But it was very comforting to have access to the technology to use in a mindful way. Anyway, those texts put in in the 6-8 hour range instead of 8+.

    1. I think sending a text to let your significant other that you are okay should be exempt. As a husband I am always happy to know that my wife and/or kids have arrived safely at their destination.

      I don’t think that your use of technology violated the spirit of this challenge. It is not like you were on Facebook while the kids were fishing.

  26. For the past year or so, I’ve noticed how my attention at home is on my smartdevices instead of my love. Thank you for this challenge! I will not be connected to technology and will instead focus on my girl. Oh gosh…. it is an addiction.

  27. Wow that’s a pretty serious challenge! While I can’t stand when people are staring at their smartphones while I’m trying to talk to them, I am guilty of leaving my phone on 24/7. I’ll try it after 9 p.m. for the next 7 days and then work my way earlier.

  28. As the parent of a young child, after he goes to bed is exactly when I check my email. I repudiate the challenge!

    1. i think that its good you are not checking e-mail when you are spending time with the kids!i think that should “count” for this…imho

  29. One part of the challenge should be to put your phone away while driving. As a motorcyclist, bicyclist and fellow driver, I would really appreciate it if everyone would put down their phone and pay attention to the road.

    I am not perfect, I have caught myself doing this myself many times (almost t-boned someone once) and decided that from now on my phone is going in my trunk or pocket while I’m behind the wheel.

    I challenge all of you to do the same.

    (Oh, and only checking your phone at lights does not count. It just screws up traffic when you don’t go because you didn’t notice the light had changed.)

    1. It’s illegal here to use your phone while driving. They are super, super strict about it, thankfully.

      1. I am starting to believe it should be a federal law in the U.S.

  30. Since I live in one of the few places in the United States that smartphones don’t really work (yet), I don’t really have that problem (though I still check my email to much.)

    However, every time I leave I am amazed at all the people staring at their tiny screens. Even just waiting for coffee in the morning or at a table in a restaurant. It still seems crazy to me.

  31. I get so much crap for my flip phone but am totally committed to it. That being said, I am more addicted to it than I would like to be – constantly checking texts and the likes. The only reason I made it into the 4-6 range is because my work (Waitressing) forbids us from carrying them around with us. I will accept your challenge, Mark, although will leave my phone on to accept calls (because trying to coordinate outings on weekend nights without calling is…impossible). Thanks for the challenges!

  32. Definitely guilty of this. The constant access to e-mail (and the workplace expectation of an immediate response to e-mail) has got to be a chronic stressor. I don’t think I’ve gone more than 3 waking hours in between e-mail checks this calendar year. Even my morning 2-mile walk to work is accompanied by music in the headphones, random web-surfing, and at least one click of the Gmail reload button. A dog might help.

  33. “The fear” got me when I saw today’s post title and the picture of a smartphone, but I think I can do this. I’ve been making more of an effort to do so anyway. I keep reminding myself that (fill in the blank) is more important than what’s on my phone and that the internet will still be there in an hour, or whenever the kids have gotten their needs attended to. Good challenge, I’ll give it a go. Oh, and the sprinting? I don’t run unless I’m chasing my kids. Which does happen. I re-instated an old knee injury practicing my grok squat a few weeks ago and it’s taking its own sweet time rerurning to a pain-free state.

  34. I seem to be one of the few that has gone 8+ hours unplugged.

    Since I live on the west coast and most of my friends and family are back east, it’s easy to have my cell phone off at night because of the time difference. Even though, now that I’ve been here for a while my new friends get frustrated when they can’t get me in the evenings…but, I have a home phone they can call me on if they really, really need me. I also don’t take my phone on my walks, even though sometimes I wonder if I should for emergency reasons, but I really don’t want to be bothered or tempted to check my phone while I’m out.

    I’ve gotten in the habit that once my boyfriend gets home, I’m not on the internet. He’ll check his e-mail when he first gets home and just before bed, but the rest of the time is our time together. I also spend very limited time on-line on weekends. We also have a rule that when his 13 year old son stays with us, he’s not allowed to be plugged in to his iPod Touch. We want him to know that human/in-person interaction and communication are priority.

    Even though I do make these efforts, I do find myself mindlessly on the internet, checking FB, playing mindless games, etc., meanwhile thinking to myself I should get off and go do something. Oh, but wait, I’m just going to check one more thing…..famous last words!

  35. The other evening around 8 p.m. my phone battery died and rather than plug it in and continue using it, I left it off. It felt so strange!!! I am going to do the challenge too! My kids and I play a lot of games together on our smart phones so I will miss doing that though.

    1. You could try doing a game night with real board games or cards. Seems like no one does this anymore, but it was a regular occurance in my house growing up and we still do it when all the siblings get together at my parents house for the holidays. It always brings back great memories and even creates new ones! My kids love the game closet at grandma and grandpa’s 🙂

      1. Love those games. We play Scrabble and bought a bar table with a revolving game middle – Scrabble, chess and checkers.

        I like to pull out the Monopoly when friends come over. First they roll their eyes, then they get into it big time. We also have an electronic bar-style dart board. Folks have forgotten about these fun social things.

        At a friend’s house we played DDR – Dance-Dance-Revolution. See that? So much laughing…

  36. I have an office that overlooks the Trinity River here in Fort Worth, Texas. I was looking out my window the other day and saw a couple on the stone bridge that crosses the river. It was a beautiful day. The were both sitting there texting!

    And Internet Addiction Disorder? Sounds like a big pharma invention to sell more drugs to me.

  37. I love this challenge, but I’m going to switch up the hours a little for myself. I’m a SAHM with three kids at home, and while I don’t have a smartphone, I keep FB running on the laptop ALL DAY. Awful. My challenge is to keep the laptop CLOSED between 8:30am and nap time. No more “quick checks”! Thanks for this push!

  38. I completed 8 sets of 30 second hill sprints with 90 seconds rest in between.

  39. For me, this is very timely. I have just, in the last few days, recruited my husband and daughter (5 years old) to adopt a more primal lifestyle, focusing mostly on changing eating habits. But, I am also working hard to re-introduce some limits with my daughter that we had when she was younger, and about which I have become a little lax, specifically about the amount of “screen time” she gets on a daily basis. I actually made her go an ENTIRE Sunday without even turning the t.v. on! (I know, mom of the year goes right out the window!) Oh, the peace was amazing that day. I have quit turning on music in my office, and love the quiet. I will happily accept your challenge to lessen our techno time for the evenings!

  40. Neither my husband or I have smart phones but we have 5 online stores so the internet is super important to us. That said, we do take a “no computer” day once in a while but we can’t be off line for long as we need to reply to our customers and since most of our customers are in Europe and North America and we are in Japan….there isn’t really a “down time” for us. In fact it is 2:15 am here in Japan and I’m online!

  41. As a techno-geek, the longest I ever go without checking an electronic device is 2 hours. Pretty sad! I did the sprint challenge last week, pacing off 50 meters at the park. I did 10X50m, all-out-max-effort sprints and came home way more tired than my usual 6.5mph 2.5 mile run. I was surprised that my shoulders and elbows were sore and my hammies were super-tight the next day. Great workout!

  42. Last summer, I spent 10 days backpacking through the Philmont scout ranch with a bunch of teenage Boy Scouts. By and large, they talked about video games and tried to get to the next campsite as soon as possible, ignoring a goodly portion of the beautiful New Mexico mountains. I found it sad that even experienced scouts had problems realizing that the journey is the experience, not the end. I “slowed them down” more than once with my incessant photography ;).

  43. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” -Arthur C. Clarke

  44. Here’s something else to think about: the following of you by Big Brother and Big Marketing. The only way to guarantee you aren’t being cyber-followed via GPS by either entity is to remove the batteries from your phone…and guess what? You can’t do that with a smart phone!

    When Steve-o sold you that phone, he may as well have sold you a tracking device ANYBODY can use to know your whereabouts at any given time. Yeah, you have the world in your pocket–that means NO PRIVACY for you!

    You know how Britain’s covered in cameras and the cops know your every move? Well, we’ve got the same thing, only the cameras aren’t mounted on poles, readily visible by the public.

    Do what I do: regain a little of your privacy and freedom by leaving the phone at home. Do you REALLY need to have access to the world 24-7 when you should be focused on doing something else?

    That way, Big Brother knows where my PHONE is and not me personally. Since I have an older model phone, with no internet access or texting, marketers can’t get to me (yet).

    Just because we CAN take them with us doesn’t always mean we SHOULD. In emergencies, what did we used to do before we had cell phones? What did we do before we had OnStar?

    We were more careful then, that’s for sure, because we weren’t distracted by texting, tweeting, or whatever behind the wheel!

    1. Actually I can remove my battery. Not every smartphone is made by Apple

  45. I appreciate that this site is so much more than what we stick in our mouths. Thanks Mark!

  46. I didn’t get a smartphone either, but I do love my iTouch. But lately I mostly use it to… read books on my Kindle app.

    I guess that doesn’t count since I’m not on the Internet? 🙂

  47. Went on cruise and did not take phone. No contact with anyone for 7 days. Heaven!

  48. LOVE this!! I am extremely guilty of smartphoneitis. In fact, I voted in the 0-2 hour range (shudder). I am totally going to do this! Thanks for the reminder.

  49. Great timing for me with this challenge. I just gave up facebook yesterday because I was getting too involved and annoyed. Then I thought, why keep myself in that situation? I gave up Facebook for Lent and made it almost the whole 47 days. I should’ve stayed away, but it was so easy to get sucked back in.
    I am going to really try to put away the smart phone after 7 pm. I am glued to it and I am one of those people who is woken up by it in the middle of the night and I check that text or email instead of going back to sleep.
    I’d love to see a follow up next week on how people did with it!

  50. I went to Jazz Fest in NOLA two weekends ago. I accidentally left my laptop in hte airport (with the TSA) so I couldn’t check FB or email all weekend. No prob. When I came back thru the airport and got the laptop back, I found I was less entranced. I don’t have a smart phone; just a dumb phone from walmart, which I rarely use. I have been unsubbing from a lot of emails, so I have fewer to delete every day. Same with blogs.

  51. When I am fortunate enough to misplace my phone or forget to charge it, I cherish the moments of almost seclusion. Obviously I’m not really secluded, as life still surrounds me, but I feel disconnected from the rest of the world. While this feeling may grow into anxiety after a longer time, it is truly enjoyable to simply focus on what is immediately surrounding me in those moments.

  52. I am a technology challenged 54 year old. I don’t have a cell phone, and never have.If I borrow someone’s to make a call, I have to ask them how to work it. The reason I don’t get one is I KNOW I will become addicted to it.
    Geeze, the internet and email are distraction enough for me!
    I run trails, which allows me to experience the real world.
    I get a kick out of seeing people in restaurants, at parties etc. and half of them are glued to their phones. We took pictures at a recent family reunion, and one of us(my nephew) is looking at his iPhone in EVERY picture!
    I actually remember when Blackberries first came into my world. We were at a swanky 50th birthday party six or seven years ago and one of the husbands was in a booth by himself in a dark corner of a restaurant, eying his Blackberry.
    People thought there must be a family emergency or a crisis at work!

  53. Our relationship with technology is more like a William Gibson novel. (Ever read Neuromancer?)

  54. I’m going to challenge my 13 year old to this one. I think she’s getting texts way too late at night.

    I will say that having my smartphone at Disney World was a huge timesaver. I could check ride wait times or see when a ride was down. It saved us a lot of wasted time and money.

  55. Excellent article! Internet Addiction is very real and a quiet killer that is beginning at a younger and younger age. Of course, even despite knowing this, I struggle breaking away from my Blackberry as well.

    Liberty Springs is the first residential treatment center for youth in the US that focuses on recovery from Internet Addiction Disorder. It opens soon and will be taking residents in August. Take a peek: http://www.libertysprings.com

    We’ll be incorporating a primal framework in many areas.

    Any thoughts?

    I appreciate all of the comments shared.

  56. Hi Grokers– Actually I kill my phone every day about an hour before lunch and then go three days a week for a quick three mile walk and theotehr two days I sprint the hills. Usually 10 wind sprints with a short walk or jog in between. Then when I come back I don’t turn on the computer for personal use until after 2pm–
    BTW– I am soon to be 62. I sprint 2-3 times a week and I also box and lift a bit. Compared to the others in my workplace I am the oldest and also the most fit and active. The MDA has helped me drop from 186 to 169 on my way to 160 by my birthday on July 12th. Thanks!!!! for the motivation, the success storiesm and the great information!

  57. Ooooh, 7pm. I already shut off all technology at 9pm (10pm being the typical bedtime), so it’ll be interesting to see if I can pull of two hours earlier. Count me in, for sure.

    Granted, I don’t have a smart phone and my Kindle has had battery issues for a couple weeks now, so it’s probably a little easier for me to pull this off than others. I have been wasting more time than usual in front of my laptop, though, so maybe this is a sign to get back on track.

    1. Just a side note for you and your Kindle. I had battery issues with my kindle 2 this week and opened up a chat/called them to see what can be done, and they offered to replace it (with the current model). I couldn’t believe it since it was quite a bit out of warranty. Just an FYI if you can’t get it working

  58. Mark, something that I think would be really helpful is a way to connect your followers. I personally do not know anyone that is primal. I would love to be able to put my zip code into a spot on your website and have a list generated that could connect me with other primal followers in my area. Maybe it could have some basic information about the person such as name, age, how long they’ve been primal, what they might struggle with, contact info, etc. Or maybe we even have an assigned email address, i.e., [email protected] or something like that to communicate. Just by using that email address, we’d be spreading the word to hundreds of people daily by potentially peaking their interest b/c they want to know what “marksdailyapple” means. Being able to find others that are primal would not only help me, but I think it would make us all stronger in a sense, and once we have a “group” we could meet monthly for support and generate ideas on how to spread the word!

    1. Check out meetup.com. I think there might be some groups on there.

  59. I sprinted up a hill X 6 with rest in between. I also completed the previous slow movement challenge, and kept it up for the next week too.

    Does the computer count in this challenge? I tend to have it on in the evening and am constantly keeping tabs open that tell me if I have a new message in multiple websites. I think I should take this challenge on, and maybe I can finish my sewing project that I have on the go.

    Keep the challenges coming.

  60. Best challenge yet!! I need this so badly. Not sure it will happen tonight due to some deadlines, but definitely the rest of the week!!

  61. I almost clicked on 2-4, thinking that you meant minutes…when I saw that you meant hours, I realized I had a problem.

    1. My initial reaction was to retweet this. I think I also have a problem.

  62. Got a few hour walks in last week but the computer/ phone thing is something I admittedly need to work hard at. I just got an iphone so the allure of it has not quite settled. And being a blogger and photographer, well a lot of time is inevitably spent on the computer. I’m going to give this challenge a go though!

  63. Someone told me, “You’re hard to get a hold of.”

    I wanted to say, “Then, please quit trying to get a hold of me.”

    I am only too grateful to lose my Smartphone for the weekend and in the evenings.

    1. I still remember the good old days, when if someone couldn’t get ahold of you, they left a message.

      And at the risk of dating myself, the good even older days when they couldn’t leave a message and had to call you back, if it was that important….

      1. +1!

        And most of the time they didn’t call back as it wasn’t that important.

  64. I am so happy to read today’s post. I have a 2.5 year old and I cannot believe the number of parents who are reading/typing away on their phones while their kids are playing on the equipment.

    I have actually had two different moms (at different times) comment to me how nice it is that I play with my daughter. I find it incredible that more people don’t–it helps me to connect with her, and I find it relaxing and enjoyable!

    I also don’t pick up my cell phone after I get home from work–from 6pm until about 8am the next morning (so yes, including sleep time), I am unreachable via email/Facebook/other internet. If my friends want to reach me, they know I have a home phone and they can call me there.

    I feel rather old-fashioned for being like this, but at the same time, I need time to be AWAY from the computer and the internet (given that I’m a worker bee form 9am to 5pm). And, Real Life is just more interesting and fun!

    1. When my son was younger, we used to play “Monster” at the playground–I would chase him all over the equipment trying to catch him. Often other kids would join in and I would chase them all–while the other parents sat on the sidelines. I’ve never understood this. Everyone should play.

  65. If it wasn’t for our addiction to technology Mark, you wouldn’t make as much money.

    1. I don’t really think that is a fair thing to say. He admitted that he is using technology but I think he is honest in his suggestions to help us improve our lives.

  66. I definitely think that the iPhone/iPad app needs to be expanded upon, updated, and improved. A lot can be done with it, it can even be made to be practical tool. You could make a free version and a version that costs a few bucks that offers the special features — I’d pay it.

    It would also be good to see greater commission incentive and structure for affiliates of Primal Nutrition. 😉

  67. The one that makes me positively (I mean it) sick are parents glued to their smartphone screens at church events while their little ones cling to their sides watching without parental involvement.

  68. Here in the Bay Area everyone plays Phone Stack – when you go out with friends you all stack your phones in the center of the table and try to ignore them. The person who reaches for their phone or takes a call has to pay for all the drinks!

  69. Usually I take part of the weekend off away from social media and the internets. I understand that some people feel the need to be rude with cell phones. But if I’m at the table eating with family the phone doesn’t get answered. I feel if it’s important, they can leave a message. I will admit all of the information at my finger tips is addicting, but it can be overwhelming too. My bf and I usually do board game night or something similar on the weekends. There really does have to be a balance.

  70. set out to do 10 short uphill sprints this morning, but bailed out on #5 w a slight muscle pull in left calf

  71. Yep, I’m right there at the 4-6 range, too…the ‘net is my coffee break, ’cause I work at home. On, siiiigh, the computer, a lot. I teach online. I run lists. I market. I sell on eBay. And then for fun I check my email or browse. Sorry state of affairs, sometimes!

    But I DID build a little shed/studio 2 years ago, with no phone, no computer, no TV, just art supplies and books and music and nature all around–and friends, on occasion.

    I’d been trying to get away from the machine by 8 pm, so I’ll take your challenge and gladly!

  72. I wish I could… but as a freelance designer who is self employed, the tradeoff for being able to schedule my own time is to be always reachable no matter where I am. Dinner, errands, no matter what. Lots of last second work and quick turnarounds all the time. I was actually grateful for the smartphone so I could leave my home office during business hours and not worry about missing important emails. Compared to my previous life of 14 hour days as an in house full time designer, I’ll take the technology addiction in order to have time to get out, see the sun, exercise, make spontaneous plans, ride a bike, sleep in, etc. if I want a real vacation, I’ll go somewhere with no phone service… like the ocean.

  73. one of many great things about observing Jewish Sabbath is: 25 HOURS of NO TV, NO PHONE, NO COMPUTER!!
    we play board games, legos, we SING, TALK face to face with friends!! every single week….and lately, I have not been turning on my computer Saturday night,since I dont want the “blue light” to mess with my sleep. next weekend is a 2-day Holiday following Sabbath – 3 full days free of technology. awesome! but I’m going to try to turn-it-off at 7 during the week,
    and see how I do!

  74. Ha. I got Internet-addicted *because* I was missing out on real life. Joining the Army at 18, marrying at 21, and having a kid at 22 kind of sheltered me from the fact that my family was crazy and that people I’d thought were my friends didn’t really deserve the title. (I was kind of a mess in high school.) Having my marriage end suddenly when I was on the brink of 25 left me alone and unanchored. At least on the Internet I could find like-minded people who wanted to have conversations with me.

    I’m going in the other direction now, realizing that it’s kind of tough to form personal connections if I’m on the Internet all day long (well, except when I’m taking care of personal commitments with family and around the house). Then again, I’m afraid that if I go looking for friends, all I’ll find are “clubs and activities” for people who share one interest among themselves. That is SO BORING, and seems to be replicating what I’m finding online. No one seems to want to be an actual friend anymore, they’re so used to living in echo chambers.

    So I see the merit in cultivating a more offline life. In theory. But I’m afraid the theory won’t match up with the reality.

  75. Now that my comment is at the verrry end I’m not sure if anyone is going to read this but…

    After the baby was born, in an effort to save money we got rid of the smart phones and got phones that just dialed. No texts, no internet. We also got rid of cable since both of us work full-time and went to bed at 7:30 because we were so exhausted. Besides, we didn’t have time to watch tv so why spend the extra $80/month?

    Getting rid of the phones and cable was so liberating! We ate dinner at the table every night, actually TALKED and had great intellectual conversations. (Second) best thing that has ever happened to us and our relationship.

    We’ve now since diverted to our old ways and it sucks.

  76. Whether it’s a tiny computer screen or a large one, my job (when I am working) involves long hours with a computer. Over the last 20 years the accumulated stress/micro-trauma has taken a toll on my eyeballs, neck, and right wrist.
    My escape is travelling to Thailand for extended training camps. That is why I work as a temp, as soon as the work is over, I get as far away from work as possible. My goal is to reverse the active/sedentary ratio of my previous life, before I embraced fitness as a lifestyle. Eventually, the ultimate goal is to reduce my daily computer hours to a bare minimum say 1 or 2 hours per day. I want to now become a fitness trainer.

  77. i love this “no technology after 7” rule. i try to do this from time to time on my own, when i feel like i am too desk-bound…too addicted to fb. i need to be mindful enough to make it more of a permanent rule….

  78. I have a cabin up north that is pretty remote: propane lights/fridge/stove, pump water from a natural spring, no electricity, and no cell service. It’s great to get up there a few times a year and trully unplug!!

  79. Most my time not-connected is on weekends when I have other things to be doing. Sometimes I’ll go almost the entire weekend without checking in. But during the week I don’t disconnect for maybe but an hour to watch TV/workout/ go for a walk/drive.

  80. Guilty of waking up and having a cheeky surf of the web before falling back asleep. Not good!
    Was just contemplating this with a friend the other day; the idea that we’re all living somewhere in the electronic ether as opposed to grounded, in our bodies. Mindfulness and engagement with the here and now has never been more crucial!

  81. I just finished reading this article, it’s 6:55pm, and I’ve decided to sign-off for the evening.

  82. because of my job – this is basically never going to happen for me. I’m on call 24/7 in a various level of tiers all the time and I can’t turn my phone off. I DO limit it as much as I can – at the minimum go outside every hour.

  83. I dont know you guys, but it was a wonderful experience when i tried the sprint challenge.

    At first, I wanted the Tabata way rightaway, until I pantz, weez as if im about to die… in the first 20 seconds.

    And so I followed Marks advise only in one terms: 8 sets, but I give myself a rest as much as i need. 5, 4, 2 minutes rest in between 20sec dash, I realized and deeply understood something in a week:

    – That smoke clouds my breathing lungs,
    – that running need not a running shoe (i run in a basketball court to have no excuses)
    – that I dont need an expensive clothing just to run. after all, I’ll sweat. and as sprint is a short exercise, why “dress to kill?” torn sleeve shirt and shorts barefoot, im on.
    – I dont need energy drinks. Im not in the NBA. I want to run . Hydrate with water. finish my 20sec. thats it
    – crazy but I feel, somewhat calm. I gotta sense of, somewhat inner pride for physical.
    -wanting more: i did this, what can I do next? push up? pull up one hand?
    – THE FIRST RUN IS THE HARDEST. but what helped me is the methapor of a Rocketship: at first it was fighting gravity, then smooth fly. I got smoke, junk in my system, I visualize that Im bit by bit shrugging it off.
    – I look cooler than the joggers in our vicinity. fast, explosive and brief kept them wondering “was that enough?” lookin at them was entertaining.
    – i found it VERY IDEAL for my hectic schedule. short, sweet, simple. but simple doesnt always count as easy.

    I think im hooked. thanks for this challenge

  84. I work full time in IT. But my teams knows you need me after hours call the land line. If I am at home my cell is on a shelf in the basement with my wallet and keys.

  85. I so agree with this article. I have no smartphone, just a little old flip phone that doesn’t get internet, BUT I do spend a lot of time at home on the computer. Just like right now!!!! Yes, after 7 is good. Thanks for the challenge, Mark!

  86. I have a smart phone, but have little patience for spending hours on it (just reading all of the comments is more than I can still for). I spend about 20 minutes per day checking up on this site and Facebook, glance at Twitter, then go walk the dog. I don’t carry my phone with me unless I’m expecting a call. In restaurants, I watch or talk to people.
    My dog wants a walk now, so ya’ll will have have to excuse me now.

  87. Except for the days when I go out training, sitting and playing the guitar does count as “do something”? Or it just represents another incarnation of the modern world distractions?

  88. Lovely, a post suited for me. I don’t own a smart phone or iPad or anything like that, but I have my laptop and being unemployed (in search for my first job), computer is my 8 hour daily occupation. Just surfing the net, watching what I like on Youtube, looking for job … Yeah, it’s brain-frying and I can feel it already. I don’t have problems switching my attention off the computer, when my boyfriend’s home and we play card games (:)), but it’s more to do with asking myself, what I want with my time and life.
    I guess my challenge for this week will be switching on computer after noon. I’m wondering, what I’ll find to do during first four hours … 🙂

  89. I do not have a smartphone. To people who tell me that I MUST HAVE ONE, I usually say that I do not need it, I myself am smart enough 😉 Ok, jokes apart, I usually turn off my “primal mobile” on Friday at 18h when I leave for the WE and turn it on Monday at 9h, when I’m back to work.

  90. Oooh…. I don’t have more than an old-fashioned cell phone, but I *am* attached to my iPad.

    This after 7pm no technology is difficult to achieve… For one, I am part-time self-employed, so that’s how I spend many of my evenings. Even if not working, my iPad doubles as an ebook reader…

    Gotta mull that over.

  91. I remember being at Disney world when I was a kid. It was when camcorders were just becoming affordable, and there were hundreds of dads seeing the world through the viewfinder. Last year, I went to a gig at the o2 in London, and a mum in front of me watched the whole thing on her iPhone screen as she recorded it. What was the point? Might as well have saved herself £30 and bought the DVD.

  92. I have the flip phone from yrs ago..cheapest plan on minutes.. Friends and family roll their eyes when I tell them “my phone is mainly for emergency and stays in my car most of the time”. i have a land line phone where they can always get me if there’s a problem. I am in love with this iPad, tho 🙂 but I still manage to put it down at 8pm every night.

  93. “Of course, the future will never actually feel like “The Future” because we’ll have caught up to it and gotten used to it,”

    Wow. Amazingly smart statement.

  94. Mark,
    What is your view on books? I love to research and gather information (vs. reading fiction). I hardly spend any time on my smartphone, barely use aps, check my email once a day, never Facebook or twitter, send a minimum of text messages, watch tv just a few hours a week. But I will spend hours reading and taking notes, often sharing the new information with family and friends. At times, I’d rather read than take a walk or play. So do you think this is could be akin to smartphone and technology distraction?

  95. I do think cell phones and computers can be a way of relaxing at the end of the day. However, last weekend we went camping and had no service on our phones. It was great. My husband couldn’t get pages from work, my teens couldn’t text with friends, and I couldn’t check Facebook. In fact, most of the time we didn’t even know what time it was. Three glorious days without internet to experience nature. Boy did I feel relaxed.

    I love this challenge. Thanks so much. Since I go to bed just a little earlier than 10:00, I am going to make my last time of checking the phone at 6:00pm. It would be great to hear back from folks next week and see how they did.

    Except the one in my jeans>>>

  97. I haven’t plunged into the smartphone arena yet, mostly horrified by the extra cost. But I do have an email/facebook problem. So I’m taking this challenge.

    I planted my garden this last weekend and had such a nice time just putzing around outside with my snoopy cat nearby. It was very relaxing and satisfying. I’m going to hit repeat on that while disconnecting from the tech in the evening.

    Thanks for the push Mark.

  98. My company recently offered to upgrade everyone to smartphones. I initially agreed, but changed my mind and kept my old non-smart phone. There are times when it’s tempting to have that information available at my fingertips, but the blissful feeling of being truly unplugged is honestly more rewarding.
    And sprinting – I’ve been doing it just about every day at least once.

  99. I must admit, I am probably on the computer too much (though I do not own a cellphone). However, I think that at least in my case (being a student), it is also a cultural shift. I am expected to type my papers now. I am expected to do research online. I am expected to use internet resources. There is a sort of trap that we have created for ourselves by becoming to dependent upon technology for everyday life. I’ve also noticed people sometimes refuse (literally, refuse) to interact with me except on social networking sights. To type and send an email is almost archaic and takes too much time. Everything must be available right now. Bar be it for someone to actually make a phone-call!

  100. I went to a talk by Robert Lustig about a month ago and he said something that really resonated with me. To paraphrase, “Computers and the Internet were supposed to make everything better… somehow. Instead, we’re now statistically more fat, more sedentary, more depressed, and we work MORE, not less.”

    My small resistance so far has been refusing to get a smart phone. With the money I save on the data plan, I travel.

  101. Challenge accepted! We have a rule in our house that our desktop computer and televisions are off by 8pm, but what good is that if we are then glued to our phones the rest of the evening? By the way I read this blog post on my phone. :).

  102. I think its really rude to have a mobile on in a restaurant especially when the person your eating with is just browsing youtube.In Britain I think nearly everyone is addicted to their smartphone in some way, myself included. This challenge is going to be rough!

  103. I don’t have this problem. My phone is a prepaid one and I use like $25 a year (yes a year). If I am on the car and need to call the wife I use the phone, same when I am on the supermarket and asking the wife if we have enough bacon.
    I realized that 95% of the time I have a phone by my side (8 hours a day at work and the rest at home). Also: many times when I do not have a phone handy, there is wifi and my android phone works nicely with it and with google voice I could call anybody and not use minutes. So that’s it.

  104. I caved in a few weeks ago and got a smartphone (my beloved basic rugged phone gave up the ghost after six years). I’m a little alarmed by how much I use the thing- my texting and internet use has probably tripled in the past two weeks. Coupled with the fact that my job demands 24hr availability, I feel like I don’t have a chance to disconnect (escape?), ever.

  105. Landline and a computer on the desk. Then I use something called “planning” to engage my friends.

  106. A lot of my friends seem recently to have outsourced their exisitence to social media to the extent where they are planning future events mindful of how they will look retrospectively on Facebook. I am very uncomfortable with this disconnect from the present but also to some extent reality.

    I also see a lots of (not usually very) subtle ways people attmempt to use the medium as a self propaganda tool – I am successful, I am wealthy, I am a party animal etc – but it appears then to become a simulation of themselves, further driven by their desire to gain approval.

    They seem to exist purely through and for the prism of the media. But the social media becomes the reality.

    I think also that is why you often get called miserable for not partaking in social media – those type of facebook users not only want to further normalise their own behaviour but also you not using it means that you will have no access to their propoganda.

    Sorry if this sounds a bit dark, but my point is I persoanlly dont find it a spiritually uplifting way to spend time or interact.

  107. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one, Mark. I’m not anti-technology (obviously using a computer and the Internet right now). However, one of the things we as a society are terrible at is questioning whether or not we should even use a technology. We usually just implement it, and then find out the negative effects later. I feel like this is what is happening with smartphones right now.

    I live on a college campus, and it saddens me to see people walking around like zombies, with absolutely no idea what is going on around them. They have no time to ponder questions as they walk, or look up at the sky and notice how beautiful it is, or be amused at a squirrel chewing a nut on the sidewalk. They just stare straight ahead, listening to some music blare on their headphones, or they’re staring at their smartphone, running in to people along the way.

    Smartphones may have their uses, especially for people who need to be constantly connected to their jobs. But I will never, ever, get a smartphone, because I don’t ever want to be one of those people who decides to check Facebook or email while eating dinner, rather than engage with the people around me.

  108. I recently deactivated my Facebook account for about a month because I knew I was getting too much faux social interaction from it. Facebook isn’t a real connection with anyone; it’s like those pellets they reward monkeys with when they train them. Unsatisfying. Being with real people is infinitely better (except when they’ve got their phone out constantly. Am I really that boring?). That month I was off I felt great. I definitely had less stress. I got out more. I’m slipping back into it, but I really need to get away from it again. I do not regret getting it out of my life. I never needed it before I had it. Why would I need it now?

    I try to limit my smartphone use too. I lived for years without one. Why do I need to be entertained constantly with one? I have a brain. Louis CK’s bit in his ‘Hilarious’ show helped me rethink how I view my tech too.

    It’s impossible to live life in every breath with an electronic screen in front of you constantly. Technology is a tool. Would you carry a hammer around with you all the time including when you go to bed? I think we do ourselves a disservice when we get addicted to our devices. Like junk food, they’ll just leave you hungry for real food.

  109. I’ve just had a tech-free week in the woods with my classmates so my answer would be somewhere around 168 hours 🙂 Otherwise it’s probably around 4-6 hours at the most. If I get a smartphone, I will probaly die from constant wikipeding…

  110. So far ive gone one day with no tech past 7pm and I found myself reading! I never read…This challenge is going to make me smart..ish!!

  111. i’m a waiter. i watch children come in so imersed in their new ipads they will not respond to me when i ask for their order. the parents love it because it’s a great way to keep thier kids shut up so they don’t have to teach them actual manners. then they put down the technology long enough to shovel in some disgusting toxic food and coke, then back to the ipads. and then on their way out of the restaurant bump into me while i’m working because there not looking up from their game…. were all screwed.

  112. I really, really tried… and then failed. Living without the tech that I have come to rely on is a major challenge. I really want to cut down but I just don’t know how!

  113. Very cool post.

    Last week, through happenstance, in one 24 hour period, I was separated from my phone for the first 12 hours, and from my computer for the next 12 hours. It was BLISSFUL 🙂

  114. WOW, thank you SO much for this article, Mark. You know, I feared that I may have been privy to this addiction, but I chose to ignore it because I felt as if I was not wasting time, but gathering information. I had felt this way for the last couple years, and admittedly used to be a gaming addict prior. My gaming has gone down considerably — from 30+ hours a week on average, down to about 10-12 hours a week. I fear my addiction has transferred over to being a full blown power user. I’m not just using my smartphone and/or PC to gather information I find interesting, but finding things I may find applicable to my own life or can enhance it in some way or another, my social network feeds (several unfortunately — although I can proudly say FB is not on that list), rss feeds (I wouldn’t have read this without it), reddit, etc. The problem with this is I’m a young father of a son during his formidable years. I chose to ignore it, but subconsciously aware I would be glued a couple hours at work every single day, come home to check more and even, at times, check it in the morning before going to work. I’ve recently integrated the GTD into my lifestyle and what started to trigger in my mind that I may have a problem was, when finally putting my GTD strategy into effect in real life, the things I wanted to get done that day or that week or that month slowly started being pushed into the next month and I was slowly, but surely, not getting shit done. Thank you again, Mark. I will put down the internet… after this…. 1 more article…

  115. I AM an anti-tech guy and worry about being so “digitally distracted”.

    Don’t own a cell phone at all and refuse to buy one (not worth it).

    Check home e-mails ~twice a week unless expecting something (rare).

    Work e-mails, 3 times a day.

    Internet use: 4 sites for the news and 1 crossword puzzle = 1 hour/day.

    I believe you are right on the brain effects of being “digitally distracted”. For one it impedes focus when doing analytical work or computational code development.

    And I see so much of our youth totally engrossed by these high tech “toys”.

    Spend an extra hour per week reading your health articles (on Sunday).

    Oh shoot gotta run, my interval work-out is calling (grin).


  116. I am in college and am probably the only one there that doesn’t have a smartphone. It is nice to be able to walk around the campus and notice the scenery, feel the wind in my hair, the squirrels eating the campus garbage and running up and down trees, etc. I also like the fact that I can sit at a table where there is no computer and no phone buzzing every five minutes… meaning that I can actually finish my statics homework and understand it. Don’t get me wrong, I am still addicted to email and facebook. I have a computer in my room and can’t do my work there. So in that respect, I feel bad for the students who have smartphones and have to have it with them even while they’re studying. How can you get anything done in that environment?

  117. I am very lucky to have a smartphone. I live in one country, my partner in another one, my dad in a third and mother and sister with families in a fourth. Thanks to the phone and a certain app I can send them little messages on what I am doing during the day, together with pictures sometimes. They read it when thy have time and then do the same.

    There is a nice closeness to it as well. I don’t think I’ll be able to do the challenge since I cannot imagine not to say goodnight over Skype on my phone or laptop to my boyfriend. However I have already taken off my Facebook off it since I’ve been catching myself overusing it.

  118. This was weirdly easy to implement. My husband was on board with trying this out (much to my surprise), so we’ve been keeping each other accountable.

    It’s like we’ve been handed a few more hours every day — and with a kinder and a 3 mo, we need all the time we can get. Suddenly we have all this time after dinner to go to the store, or tidy up, or even just hang out in the yard. We’re also going to bed a lot earlier. I am usually up til 2am, and lately I’ve been in bed by 11 (a couple hours after sunset).

    I would eventually like to eliminate most artificial lighting in our home; this is feeling a lot more achievable.