January 08, 2010

Digital Detox

A few weeks ago, John Mayer announced that he’d be taking a one-week digital cleanse. In short, he wouldn’t use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, nor would he read or post blogs. He’d also avoid entertainment and gossip websites during his cleanse. Of course, the best (and most ironic) part of his announcement was his suggestion that we take this cleanse with him.

I admit that I initially wasn’t going to take Mr. Mayer up on his directive. However, I later thought that this would, at the very least, be an opportunity to test my discipline in avoiding frequently-used websites. Since the cleanse started on New Year’s Day at 9 a.m., I made preparations after arriving home from my church’s New Year’s Eve service.

As I type this entry in MS Word (instead of Blogger), I’m on day three of my cleanse. Apart from accidentally clicking on a CNN blog, I’ve managed to follow John’s directions with hardly any withdrawal effects, even though I somewhat miss my daily logins to Facebook and Twitter. However, the absence of these crutches (among others) has shown me one important fact: instead of relying on them to satisfy my social needs, I must give first priority to interactions with people in the flesh. I had this idea in mind when I attended the gospel dance party a few days ago; even though the execution was a total failure, at least my intentions were good.

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you may have come across Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs. In its original form, it’s represented by a five-stage pyramid. Each stage represents a set of needs; the lower the stage in the pyramid, the more fundamental it is to the human existence. In my personal experience, I’ve definitely neglected the need for love and belonging; my accomplishments in life seem worthless in light of that unfulfilled need. In layman’s terms, what good is achieving a career milestone when you have no one to celebrate it with you?

Let’s recap: my digital cleanse has already helped me reduce my dependence on social networking websites. However, since nature abhors a vacuum, I’ll need to fill the resulting void with consistent social interaction. It won’t be easy, but it is definitely necessary.

(Originally completed during my digital cleanse on January 3, 2010 at 11:39 p.m.)

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