“the phone is an amazing tool… we own our devices, they don’t own us.”
Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook chief marketing officer.
There’s certainly no denying the marvels of technology. We can Skype with family and friends on the other side of the world. We have unlimited information at our fingertips 24/7. We are even saving the forests by moving into a paperless society.
But like everything, too much of a good thing can be bad. Social commentators are now claiming technology is becoming toxic with associated mental health issues on the rise:
- addiction (a growing concern)
- sleep disorders
- psychological well-being
Digital detox is the new buzz word and if you answer yes to two (or all) of these questions, chances are you may need a little digital downtime:
- Do you find yourself checking Facebook when out with family and friends?
- Do you get the ‘beep’ from the car behind as you (illegally) Tweet and miss the green light?
- Do you dish up most meals with a quick Instagram?
- Do you find yourself thinking in hashtags?
- Do you go into panic mode if you leave your phone at home or “out of range”?
- Do you leave your phone on overnight?
- Do you email colleagues or clients after hours? And then expect them to respond?
- Do you spend more time Tweeting about life than actually enjoying it?
- Do you check your holiday destination has ‘wifi’ before you confirm the booking?
- Do you scan Facebook rather than reading a good book?
- Do you know what “Nomophobia” means?
Have we become a society who is so used to being ‘available’ that we no longer enjoy valuable time with family and friends?
The average Australian executive is now on-call 24/7 thanks to our addiction with mobile smart phones. More than 8 million Australians now have a smartphone and that number is increasing at a faster pick-up rate than any other Western country.
Add Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media platforms and nobody is considered unreachable, even on holidays.
We are now expected to be constantly “on”. There are not definitive work hours any more. And most of us simply don’t know how to “switch off”.
- 61% of users can’t ignore their device
- 65% feel worse after checking
- 81% interrupt face time to check
Researchers at Kansas State University found that it is essential for the brain to mentally recharge for the next working day. Receiving an unsettling email late at night is only going to lead to a stressful, sleepless night.
Speaking of sleepless nights, those who spend a couple of hours on Facebook before hitting the sack are more likely to have a disruptive sleep pattern. Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center found that the light from using a phone, tablet or PC for just two hours lowers melatonin production by about 22%, which could make it a lot harder to get to sleep afterwards.
And despite being “so connected” studies are showing that we are actually spending less time physically interacting with friends due to our social media replacement meals. This lack of interaction is taking a huge toll on our psychological wellbeing.
Melbourne’s Swinburne Institute for Social Research claims that the average social media user will check their account upwards of 15 times per day. And it’s women who are ruling the web with the research further showing that women log on, on average, 17% more than men in a majority of western countries.
And add to all of this the fact that the stress hormone, cortisol, can instantly rise when confronted by mobile phone conversations, the tapping of laptop keyboards and the sound of a ringing phone.
So it seems our use of technology is on dangerous turf and we’re in need of some digital peace. Sound like pure Bliss?
Bliss Sanctuary For Women is a women’s only resort situated in Bali. There are no men, children or schedules and it promotes the health benefits of deep restorative relaxation and rejuvenation by offering individual, tailor-made stay packages to ensure guests achieve that ‘blissful’ experience.
While the Sanctuary is not a digital-free zone, despite offering unlimited Wi-Fi and free use of an iPad, many guests are taking the opportunity to turn off.
Australian guest Jessica Faith commented on her stay; “after feeling burnt out from work, I was looking forward to stepping away from the emails and logging some hours laying by the pool and getting massages. I didn’t plan on taking a break from Facebook and Instagram but after my second day of sharing photos from my day’s adventures, I found that checking in on social media was actually taking me away from all that I was experiencing on my holiday. It was much nicer to be fully absorbed in each moment – the facials, the delicious food, the conversations with other guests – and after a week of no social media, I was so much calmer and present.”
Bliss hostesses encourage guests to be considerate of each other and take phone calls in their own rooms. They also recognize that everyone’s ‘Bliss’ is very individual and so while the ideal and benefits of “unplugging” is as attractive as the latest low-sugar diets, the reality is often quite challenging.
“Even though I was in this tropical paradise, the lure of checking my phone to see how many likes my holiday photos had been getting was still there”, admitted Rebecca Corcoran, another recent Bliss guest. “But being in a beautiful environment and with so much exploring to do, I soon forgot all about it. And once I returned home, I found that I just wasn’t as interested in social media. My stay at Bliss was enough of a hiatus to break the habit”.
Bliss Sanctuary owner and creator Zoë Watson has seen firsthand the wellbeing results of a digital detox; “Guests who have kept their phones on have reported that they’re only really using them a few times during the afternoon. And by giving themselves a “digital curfew” and not being connected online for several hours before bed time, they’re sleeping much better, which is another reason they’re leaving us feeling so refreshed.
Given that the only mandatory inclusion in our packages is a daily 90 minute massage by our resident Balinese masseuse, by the end of the stay, guests are so relaxed they find themselves forgetting to even turn their devices on!”
If considering a digital detox holiday, check www.blisssanctuaryforwomen.com for details.
Zoë Watson was a media and marketing executive in Adelaide and Sydney and moved to Bali two years ago.
She is now the owner of Bliss Sanctuary For Women, currently operating in Bali.
Zoë is available for interview.
For further information please contact:
Bec Brown Communications, Sydney
- Facebook announced they have 1.10 billion active users worldwide.
- Australia has 11,489,380, which equates to 1.08% of the total global user base.
- 49.9% of the total Australian population have Facebook Accounts.
- Twitter’s Business Portal claim they now have over 200,000,000 (monthly) active users worldwide & 2,167,849 monthly Australian users.
- Instagram recently announced they now have 100 million active users worldwide. 1.08% of this equals 1,083,924 Australian users.
- Survey April 2013: Australian Social Media agency Frank Media.