Why the Data Detox Movement is Growing all Around Us


Have you ever felt the need to disconnect? Well, you’re not alone (ever, and perhaps that’s the problem). Study shows that one in five consumers takes a break from all forms of digital devices that in what is now referred to as a “digital detox.”

Minimizing one’s data exposure is the latest rising trend. Here’s why.

Technology has improved our lives significantly by making everything accessible at an instant.

Unfortunately, the same technology also increases our connectivity levels to a point where we almost feel an obligation to stay engaged. We may find ourselves easily distracted and more approachable than we wish to be.

We spend less time with our family and have a constant feeling of falling behind on our to-do list. The very tools that boost our productivity level also add more stress and anxiety to our world.

To balance things a little, our society has been experiencing the interesting, recent rise of social movements that are meant to decrease our usage and purchase of digital items.

Digital detox is now joined by a new form of disengagement called data detox. Many consumers choose to not only disconnect by switching off their phones but also monitor and minimize the amount of data they consume and provide.

The idea isn’t to go off the grid permanently, but instead to take the first step towards data minimalism or awareness, which represent an ongoing customer behavior. Why is this happening?

The following paragraphs will attempt to shed light on the main reasons behind this growing trend.

Reason #1: The need to disconnect

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama

Being ignored is not a pleasant feeling, and if we knew that a friend was deliberately ignoring our phone calls and texts we would probably be offended.

But in today’s world, where we carry our phones and tiny computers with us wherever we go, we should be allowed to take a break even when there’s no objective reason behind it. It’s the same with digital and data detox.

Wanting to step away for a little bit and cut the constant connection is more than understandable.

Since apps can track our behavior even when we’re not actively using them, those looking to take some time off might feel that disconnecting their devices while continuing to provide data is only doing half the work.

Reason #2: Finding your truth

“Truth is not something outside to be discovered, it is something inside to be realized.” -Osho

One issue that is more unique to our data output is the sense that someone isn’t telling us the truth.

As we begin to look into the personal information used by companies, especially when scandals involving Facebook or Google are in the spotlight, we realize that there’s a lot we don’t know about the type and volume of information tracked and the ways it is being used for the commercial and political benefit of organizations.

This is enough to make any person want to decrease the data they release into the world.

Because there’s so much misinformation and vague privacy policies out there, understanding the nature of our data use and abuse is nearly impossible without taking a break.

What begins as a data detox and close examination of the truth will most likely lead to a data minimalism-focused lifestyle following the alarming facts we discover.

The truth, once revealed, can be extremely disturbing.

Reason #3: A sense of self

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” -Aristotle

When we declutter our closet, we’re not just looking to clear space for new clothes or create a more organized room. We are trying to gain back control over our lives that seems to have been buried under piles of stuff.

As we embark on a digital and data detox, we are also focused on control, this time over our personal entity. More than 350 million people worldwide are believed to currently suffer from Facebook addiction, and apps and games are designed with “stickiness” ― a nice little synonym for addiction ― in mind.

The detox is meant to remind us (and our apps) who is the true owner of our time, our online entity, and our information.

Data detox forms a way for us to reclaim ownership by making a bold first step. When it comes to the many digital addicts around us, the detox is also a form of rehabilitation. Going “cold turkey”, the data version.

Finally, for many users, there’s a statement to be made against how companies and organizations use our data, and cutting ties with apps and devices, even for a short while, helps users feel like they’re back at the driver’s seat.

Even though the reasons listed here seem to focus on users themselves, data minimalism profoundly affects our society and environment.

We inspire others when we share our experiences and discoveries, helping many realize that something unreasonable might be going on and there’s a lot we can do about it.

We also encourage the creation and popularity of new and helpful guides, forums and tools that help us take the first big break and later ease back into the digital world in a more informed and conscious manner, practicing data minimalism.

All in all, giving data detox a try, for any reason, is better for ourselves, our society, and our environment.

Gal Ringel

Gal Ringel is the co-founder and CEO of Mine, a company focused on empowering Internet users to know who holds their data and decide how it’s used. Prior to founding Mine, Gal was a venture capital investor for Verizon Ventures and Nielsen, where he has deployed over $50M in $20+ startups. Gal is also veteran of the Israel Defense Force’s Elite Cyber Unit 8200.



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