If you’re a regular reader then you will know I’m at the beginning of a year (mostly) offline. So when I saw Tanya Goodin’s book, Off: Your Digital Detox for a Better Life, I had to read it.
Goodin’s book takes a much more gentle approach to digital detoxing than my year offline. But it is no less effective for that. The strategies Goodin offers enables the reader to put boundaries around online time and the book provides ideas about what to do with more offline time too. It is a small book, full of beautiful photographs. And Goodin guarantees that within the pages will be ‘something that works for you’.
The book has six main sections. Written in such a way that you can read the book cover-to-cover or dip in and out of it, you can choose which route through the book works best for you. You are in the hands of a well-qualified guide either way. Goodin has experience in helping people with digital detoxes, running retreats for adults and delivering talks in schools to children and parents about setting boundaries around screen time. She has mastered, it would seem, what many of us crave: harnessing the benefits of online life without detrimental consequences to her wellbeing or offline life.
One of the most interesting parts of the book for me was where Goodin discusses the way in which technology is designed in such a way that it is hard to ignore. Notifications and social media likes lead to spikes in our dopamine levels. This means it is all too easy to become a slave to our technological devices. There is something reassuring about this knowledge – it can feel addictive because there are things that make it that way. But it is horrifying, too, when you read the resultant statistics.
Apparently, we tap, swipe and click on our devices around 2617 times per day. One study showed that even the awareness of a smartphone notification can impact negatively on focus, creativity and problem solving. The truth is we’re engaged in an activity that has a significant impact on our bodies and behaviours. If I could wish one thing for this book, it is that it might have shared more about the research around this subject. Or at least some suggestions for further reading because what it did share was fascinating.
Having said that, the book has a welcome lightness as a result of its concentrated focus. And, as Goodin promised, there are definitely things I will take away from this book. So if you are thinking of having a digital detox then this is a book worth checking out. Perhaps if I had read it a few weeks earlier, my year offline experiment might have looked quite different!