‘The Essential Digital Detox Plan’ by Orianna Fielding

Being constantly connected to digital devices can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help, as Orianna Fielding discusses in this elegant new publication from Carlton Books.


I once met a man who would send framed photos of himself to all his friends and family every year as Christmas presents. Weird isn’t it? Why would anybody want that as a gift? Not so strange, though, is the idea of sharing photos of yourself on social media for, presumably, the benefit of your many friends and followers. Remove the computer, though, and the whole thing gets really quite peculiar. Could you imagine yourself having just got back from holiday, picking up reams of glossy 4 by 7 prints from the pharmacy, slipping them into individually addressed envelopes and sending them out for all your friends to see? I’m willing to bet not, because that would make you seem more than a little overbearing, and possibly lead to a few restraining orders. So why is it ok, encouraged even, to do this online?

In The Essential Digital Detox Plan: How to achieve balance in a digital world, Orianna Fielding explores this concept, and many more, as she delves into the strange world of new social media, and offers advice for those who want to have more control over their digital consumption habits.

We have reached a stage, Fielding says, where connectivity permeates every aspect of our lives. Texting and reading on smartphones rather than conversing with those around us is now considered the norm, and we are constantly connected to our work and personal emails at the expense of missing out what is happening around us. It is important to realise, she says, that having access to the world in the palm of your hand also means the world has access to you. Eurphoria at the ability to be connected at all times can quickly be replaced with a debilitating dependence on being connected at all times.

The Essential Digital Detox Plan provides advice for how people can take control of their digital consumption habits, rather than allowing their digital devices to have control of them. The suggestions included in the text range from introducing phone-free meal times and tech-free zones in the house to taking unplugged time out at work to engage in a five-minute meditation ‘snack’. For the most committed out there, the back of the book serves as a step by step guide to full digital detox, from one hour to the full seven days.

The overarching theme of the book is not just about disconnecting from digital devices, but about adopting a slower, more conscious approach to life. Fielding stresses the important of taking the time to observe your surroundings and really ‘be’ in the present moment to indulge in experiences that, often, access to a smartphone or tablet can negate.

The steps, suggestions and advice included in the text stem from Fielding’s own journey to achieving a balance in her digital consumption habits. This gives a very personal feel to the text, but also means that at times Fielding’s style can see a bit self righteous, perhaps even presumptuous. But I think you are more likely to pick up on this or find it a little grating if you haven’t brought this book for advice.

It’s never fun to pick up on mistakes in reviews, but, for all the good I have to say about this book, I would not be a very good editor if I didn’t make mention of the glaring error in the preface. Fielding refers to the book by the wrong name (Unplugged), not once but twice. I assume, as this book was once serialised in a magazine, that it has been given one or two new lifelines along the way to full publication. No doubt at some point it was called Unplugged, but it isn’t now, and this really is something that should have been picked up prior to publication.

On the whole, though, I think The Essential Digital Detox Plan is a pretty good companion for those wishing to spend a little less time surrounded by technology, or take a more relaxed approach to their digital consumption. Even if you don’t want to go all out and commit to a full seven-day digital detox, the book contains a lot in the way of yoga and meditation exercises and other tips and tricks to help you take time out during your day.

This review was first published online for E&T magazine

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