Recently I came across a guy called Tony Laulu and his organisation Digital Discipline. (OK, I admit it - I found him on Facebook!)
Tony’s message is that cell phones and social media are addictive, and his mission is to raise awareness of the problem. So he came up with an idea of 828 Sundays: 12 hours social media free from 8 am to 8 pm. Get it 8 to 8? 828? Brilliant, I thought. That’s just what I need!
I am the classic nagging mum when it comes to my four sons’ screen-time. And yes, I do use Family Zone!
Recently my eight-year-old teamed up with his 15-year-old brother (nice to know my boys can work together as a team) to call me out on my own device use.
“But Mum, you’re always on your phone too!" Oops.
While I can attribute some of that to replying to work emails, making arrangements to taxi the boys to their various sporting events, and checking my sad bank balance to pay for petrol and fees for said sporty kids - I’m not gonna lie. A lot of my time is not spent as productively as it could be.
And, yes, to be honest, Mum too has been sucked into the same social media vortex she warns her sons about.
“But Mum, you’re always on your phone too!"
I get it. It’s so easy to get drawn in on Instagram stories and feel you know all about a certain fitness guru’s life, or scroll through Facebook to see who's on holiday in some fancy tropical resort or catch up on the escapades of that cute paralysed pup in his wheelchair.
People talk about a social media vortex. Is that the right word, or is “black hole of time wasting” more accurate? It wasn’t until I was busted by my boys that I really admitted the truth. I am just as guilty of mindlessly wasting my time as my kids are!
"Mum too has been sucked into the social media vortex."
And that made me take a long hard look at myself and what I am teaching them. Let’s just say the old saying “Monkey see, monkey do" really resonated.
So on the Sunday just gone, I did a Tony Laulu 828. From 8 am to 8 pm I put my phone away.
Was I scared? You bet I was! How on earth was I going to cope, when Sundays were normally my day to binge on social media and self-medicate my FOMO?
Well, here’s how I coped. I baked cookies. I made homemade soup. I relaxed with my sons. I had a cuppa and a gossip with a friend while the kids and dogs ran around. I basically recharged my batteries - and they were sooo overdue for it!
Or, to use another, less technological metaphor: I filled my empty cup with meaningful connections. And I let myself do that without any guilt at all.
I did feel some unease and the occasional surge of FOMO. I did miss a few messages and posts from friends about their kids’ sporting accomplishments the previous day - which is something I really enjoy.
... this “need” to be constantly connected and in the know … it’s really all in your mind.
I also couldn't ask questions on the Facebook group I joined to identify spiders (!), so had to avoid the laundry where the possibility of a dangerous spider lurked. (Come to think of it, that wasn’t exactly a sacrifice!)
Could I do this 828 Sunday again? Could I survive another whole day of disconnecting and detoxing? Yes! Because as I discovered, this “need” to be constantly connected and in the know … it’s really all in your mind.
Next time, I’m planning on filling up my cup with even more meaningful real-life connections with family and friends. And less coffee. Waaay less coffee.
Hey, if I can detox from social media, why not caffeine? Now that’s gonna take willpower.
Photo: Amy and her boys (from left) Jaiden (16), Zac (6), Benji (8) and Kane (15).