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My Digital Detox Experience

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SMARTPHONE
Alamy

As the founder of a company built on the concept that social media is the predominant -- and most significant -- communication medium in the world, the experience I had last weekend seems antithetical to everything I believe:

I unplugged myself from technology. I didn't look at Facebook, I didn't Tweet, I didn't check-in anywhere or share a photo to Instagram. And on Monday, as I drove into the office, I could hardly believe what I was feeling. I was different. I was relaxed and calm. And, perhaps owing to my business as a communicator, I needed to share my revelation with everyone.

Perhaps it's not a shocking discovery. Arianna Huffington, who started the website you're reading, learned much the same thing and offered her thoughts in the book Thrive. The extraordinarily talented and influential Tiffany Shlain made a fantastic short film about taking a "technological Shabbat."

All I know is that for the last few months, I've been exhausted, physically and especially mentally. My eyes hurt from doing nothing but staring at screen after screen all day -- from my laptop to my desktop screen to my iPhone and my iPad, TV screens, movie screens, I realized I was always staring at something other than the world. I've been attached to a device that brings in hundreds of other people's emotions, desires, and demands everyday... From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed -- unwillingly setting my phone aside -- I was connected to everything and everyone but actual life and the people around me. I had become dependent on one thing: knowing if I was missing something.

But here's what I learned from breaking away from all those screens for one full day, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday: If someone really needs to reach me, they'll know how. And if I really, desperately need to connect with someone, for 24 hours I can make it the real, live person next to me, not the virtual person who's also furiously tapping on a little glass screen.

That doesn't mean I'm turning into a technophobe or a neo-Luddite. Quite the opposite: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and on Monday I was curious to know what people had been up to over the weekend, to see who had tried to get in touch with me, and I had more headspace to actually connect with them in return. I now have a new value to add to the equation. The value I place on me.

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