If your morning is anything like mine, you might kick it off over coffee and email. Then it's time for the news, which may come from your television or tableside iPad, perhaps complimented with some Netflix for the kids while you whip up breakfast.
On the way to work, I jack my phone into the car — listening to Pandora or "This American Life" — while also occasionally calling on Siri to text someone, shout out the weather, or read me yet another email. Once at the office, I'm glued to my keyboard and willingly throw myself into the fray of the online world.
I'm always connected. And that's likely not a good thing. I have my outlets — running a small apple farm being one of them — but it's hard to escape the pull of the modern, jacked-in world when your livelihood is directly tied to it.
I'm not alone. The average American spends 5.35 hours a day on social networking sites, with a growing 30 percent of leisure time in the U.S. spent on the Internet. Add the addition of smart phones, making our lives even more tethered, and it's easy to envision a future where "always on" isn't just an option, but expected.
So it's no surprise then that only a few decades into the rise of the Internet age, week-long retreats are being created to briefly escape it — and give your life an opportunity to hit the reset button. The latest, aptly named The Digital Detox, is kicking off in Orr Hot Springs, Calif., next month. And in case you're wondering, it's already hugely popular.
"We believe that people need a break, and in this day and age, need to give themselves the permission to take that break," says co-founder Levi Felix. "Spending the majority of our waking lives online, experiencing life through a screen, plugged in as if it were an extension of ourselves is beginning to take its toll. Our mission at The Digital Detox is to provide people with the opportunity and permission to put aside their digital arm and 're-format' their own personal hard-drives … so they can return to their job and family feeling rejuvenated and relaxed, with a new-found perspective, energy, inspiration, and a refreshed approach to a balanced life in the digital age."
For four days, participants in the detox (classes are kept small at only 10 people) will leave behind their digital selves and embrace nature with yoga, meditation, delicious, locally grown food, and the serenity of the Mendocino Valley. For those who might want to cheat, good luck — there's no cellphone service.
"The Digital Detox creates a space that gives you the freedom and permission to truly unplug and decompress ... for personal development, creative thinking, liberation, and a space to truly unplug," the site reads. "We give our minds the time to think deeply, our bodies the chance to relax, and our natural surrounding the opportunity to engulf us."
And that's the beauty of hitting a designated "off-grid" spot to truly get away. I've previously tried to disconnect while on vacation, only to fail miserably by hitting up an Internet cafe or borrowing someone's device to "check in." No such temptations exist in Orr Hot Springs. And the price is right, too.
"We value community, transparency and the opportunity to share experiences that will transform people's life. Since most retreats are so expensive, we wanted to make the digital detox more accessible to a wide range of participants by creating a flexible tiered pricing system," says co-founder Brooke Dean.
"With a baseline cost of $600/person, we understand this may still be out of some people's budget," she adds. "So we're using a trust based discount/scholarship system where the individual chooses their own price on the spectrum; this way we are able to include the tech exec or entrepreneur that can pay the full price, or the soccer mom who juggles three children's schedules on her iPad everyday, and even the PhD student who can afford $450 or $600 but not the full $800."
You can find out more information on the TDD's website. Additional off-grid retreats are scheduled for July 12-15 and Aug. 16-19. What do you think? Could you use a little digital detox in your life?
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