As Technology Becomes Ever-Present, the “Tech Detox” Movement Gains Steam

As mobile and wifi proliferate, our constant connectivity comes at a cost. Is a movement to disconnect in the making?

How fast and far we’ve come in the advancement of technology! A mere century ago, the U.S. was industrializing rapidly–and creating new technologies to speed assembly, improve communication, increase leisure time, and make work and life all-around more efficient. 

It’s more efficient now. Like, 24/7 efficient.

Now we stare into screens by day and night. We have SMS conversations under the dinner table on dates. We wake in the middle of the night to harvest fictional Farmville crops. We still somehow fit in 6 hours of television. Portlandia’s technology loop is funny because it’s real.

If this is not an addiction, can you give it up? Can you disconnect the computer, the phone (it’s smart, after all), the TV, even the GPS? Are your hands, still clutching your iPad and Blackberry, getting clammy just thinking about it? March 23-24 is National Day of Unplugging, and it’s a great opportunity to disconnect from devices and reconnect to your family, your mate, your health and your free time.

Signs that National Day of Unplugging is taking off are evident in the fact that this year the movement is going to the most plugged-in place in the country: South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. At SXSW Interactive’s first ever Unplugged Party at the Lodge, the price of admission is checking your cell phone. And if you’ve been to SXSW or know the demographic, you know that if this crowd can unplug, anyone can. At the event, entrepreneurs and tech titans will share their secrets to unplugging, and how they gain more power and time in their day-to-day lives by creating sacred “no connection” time every week.

If you have to really get away to make your detox work, just know it might cost you a pretty penny. Caribbean nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines is offering travelers the chance to leave smartphones and tablets behind as part of a new tech-weening vacation package. The package comes with a guidebook and a life coach so you don’t have to go it alone. In Ukiah, California, a program called the Digital Detox offers retreats complete with yoga and hot springs off-the-grid. The real doozie for domestic top-of-the-line disconnection accommodations is the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, CA. At $2285 a night, rooms pointedly don’t come with TVs.

With wifi and smart phones spurring the spread of connectivity and coverage, in the future it may become increasingly difficult to truly go “off the grid.” How much could be gained, though, by the time away from devices? Memories might be sharper, conversations deeper, work less distracted. It’s worth taking the time to find out, if only to reassure ourselves we can.

Stay tuned to–in March I’ll attempt a weekend-long tech vacation and, of course, blog about my findings afterward. 

Written by Amanda Buhman

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  1. I just threw my Android phone down in disgust (and not just because it’s not an iPhone). Then, of course, I rudimentally picked it back up. Help.

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