A recent NY Times article reported the alarming stat that we’re spending upwards of three hours a day looking at our mobile screen, let alone the computer, Kindle, TV Screen, etc. Although part of my vocation involves a more than average time on social media, I’m still desirous of cutting down my online time. I’ve realized how hard this is, as with social media there’s the temptation to be ‘always online’. For this reason, I made the decision to embark on a short digital detox, and hideout at the remote Jacob’s Bay for four days.
3 LESSONS I LEARNT
1. Social Media stifles my Creativity
I’ve realized that too much online time seriously stifles – if not kills my creativity. On my digital detox, within hours of switching off, the ideas and words were beginning to stream in. Interestingly, not necessarily new ideas, but ones that we simmering under the surface and just needed a chance to break out. Literary legend Frederick Buechner, warned us some 40 years ago: “The danger is that… you do not listen to the voice inside you or to the voice that speaks from outside but specifically to you out of the specific events of your life, but that instead you listen to the great blaring, boring, banal voice of our mass culture.”
2. Social Media shouldn’t only be a ‘highlights reel’
A digital detox also gave me some time for reflection, I was also reminded of how tempting social media is to be a ‘highlights reel’. My desire to have a digital presence has always been undergirded by an ethos of authenticity: sharing not just the highlights but also challenges and more ordinary elements of life. Within the rightful boundaries of vulnerability, still being able to highlight the full experience of life. My life has elements of unrequited joy and beauty, but most certainly it’s fair share of the tedious, monotonous, or more painful and anxiety inducing.
3. Social Media happens at the expense of…
The increased online time has come at the expense of other things of value in my life. Two years ago I read 52 books in the year – partly a challenge I’d set myself, but also because I love reading. Granted, sacrifices had to be made to establish my online presence, but after reading two books in two days on my digital detox, I realize that the scales need to be better balanced again.
WHERE I HID OUT
Jacob’s Bay is a tiny fishing village just under 90 minute’s drive from Cape Town, and was the perfect hideaway for my digital detox. Abbi and Lee Wallis have a trio of accommodation offerings in the Western Cape, the Dunstone Beach House is their holiday home in this quiet and unspoilt part of the West Coast. The town has several little bays, created by the rocky fingers of land that eagerly stretch out into the ocean. The Beach House is perfectly positioned in the dunes at the end of one of these little peninsulas, providing spectacular views of the bays.
For three of the four days of my stay, a typical West Coast fog descended on the town, occasionally lifting and giving glimpses of the wild and windswept beaches, and other times hugging more closely leaving a visibility of hardly a few steps. Combined with the quietness and lack of other people, I felt like I was on one of the outer Hebrides Islands in Scotland. It’s incredible to think this piece of paradise exists so close to home.
The house comfortably sleeps 8 over three stories, so it is suitably spacious. Large shutter doors open onto the veranda, giving you the feeling that you’re dining on your own private beach. The open plan kitchen is fully kitted out, and offers chopping views as delicious as the food that was prepared. If you’re feeling lazy, walk the 80 meters to the Weskusplek restaurant for their killer breakfasts and hearty meals. Small paths connect the various parts of the village, so make sure to take your walking shoes/running kit to explore. Most of my time was spent on the couch alongside the fireplace, making my way through the pile of books sitting happily at my side.
See more information about the Dunstone Beach House online, and make sure to book your spot on the wonderful West Coast.