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New Mental Health Challenge Gains Momentum With Australian Men

Give up alcohol or take a pair of secateurs to your Instagram — which do you think feels best?

With the introduction of mulled wine and winter specials to most Sydney restaurants as of late, completing Dry July has become more trouble than its worth. Fortunately, there is a new challenge on the horizon — and one more appropriate for the world we live in: a digital detox.

Before you get all evangelical about the health benefits of giving up alcohol, ask yourself — do you spend most of the day looking at a screen, or do you spend most of the day drinking? Unless you are a Sommelier or Ernest Hemingway, there is only one acceptable answer.

Hence: Digital Detox (with a twist) July.

Why ‘with a twist’? Because we left the days of floating down the river in a lie low, beer in hand and phone flipped shut back in 2006. In other words: we have to be able to return to work, and if we’re honest, smartphones are quite useful.

That said, many Australian men are jumping on board a ‘lite’ version of a digital detox — from us here at D’Marge, to the users of Chris Hemsworth’s health and fitness app Centr, to Stephen Brook, an Australian journalist, who penned an article in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week about his transition from Dry July to Digital Detox July.

“Life is too short for such grand gestures of (culinary) abstinence,” he said, challenging readers to instead make tech-based changes that are “too small to fail” to their lives. This attitude is also reflected in a Centr post, which prompts its users to “make peace with the fact that technology and apps are a part of our lives, but… learn to use them in a healthy way.”

So forget the internet-free glamp-sites and frozen ice hotels of the world; this month Australian men have been challenged to prune their social media (and desktop) so that Marie Kondo would be proud.

“I have to tell you, culling hundreds of accounts from Twitter and Instagram is a cathartic and liberating experience,” (Stephen Brook, SMH).

Whether this means unfollowing a couple of annoying ‘mates’ or reducing your social media circle to literally the only 5 people whose DM’s you wouldn’t mind sliding into is up to you.

Just make sure that whoever is left sparks joy.

Finding the exact number of people who have taken the challenge is an inexact art (posting about your digital detox on Instagram is fever-pitch irony) but at the time of writing 121,173 Instagram photos have been posted with the hashtag ‘digital detox’ — which suggests the actual number is far greater, as (one would hope) most people who undertake the task do it a little more quietly.

In terms of real numbers, research from Deloitte’s mobile consumer survey report suggests that 44 per cent of Australians think their phone use is a problem and are trying to reduce how much time they spend on it.

Backed up with the calmness and productivity many people experience in doing a traditional digital detox, as well as the social and physical benefits of putting down the silicon, which Beyond Blue talk about in their article, The Benefits of a Digital Detox, and it becomes clear that digital detoxes in their various iterations may well become the ‘Dry Julys’ of the future.

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