There is a growing awareness that there has not been enough focus in recent years on the distorting effects that digital connections and interactions may have generated. All of us, some more or less than others, suffer from a sort of social intoxication and, though in most cases it does not reach the level of addiction, many people wonder if it is not healthier to adopt a lifestyle that also includes spaces for digital detox.
For example, overcoming the illusion of multitasking, i.e. the idea that you can do several things at once, such as constantly look at your smartphone while working or studying. Research has highlighted the social cost of this continual distraction which interferes with productivity and quality of life. Not to mention the risks associated, for example, with incorrect use of mobile phones while driving. We need to go back to putting things in a line and preferably doing them one at a time.
Another tip involves e-mail and messaging systems and, more generally, the tendency to be always connected, always on: we can disable notifications so we do not feel tempted to constantly go and see who has written to us. We are the ones who decide when to see the messages instead of being invaded every moment of our daily lives.
We should give ourselves time from the internet by creating free zones where we can spend time with ourselves or with face-to-face relationships, best at the beginning of the day (to have our own space for morning reflection) and at the end of the day (to stop the internet interfering with our sleep).
In his beautiful book “La morte del prossimo” [Death of the neighbour] (Einaudi, Turin 2009), the great psychoanalyst Luigi Zoja highlights how we have fewer and fewer contacts with our neighbour and the people around us but we increasingly tend to seek the far away, the mediated relationship. There is increasing evidence that this can have consequences for our perception of reality, our emotional balance and our levels of anxiety.