In the past year I have had to help an increasing number of clients through work-related stress, caused by juggling their personal and professional online lives, so I was intrigued when a copy of The Digital Diet landed on my desk.
It describes itself as ‘the 4-step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life’ and throughout it Daniel Sieberg uses personal experiences as to illustrate how he got lost in the online social world and jeopardised relationships with his friends and family. During Sieberg’s own Digital Diet, he deleted his Facebook profile and detached himself from other social media before gently re-immersing himself back in the online world with certain restrictions and caveats, building up to spending no more than 90 minutes a day online, including email.
Sieberg talks about your ‘Virtual Weight Index’ where you score points for each type of mobile phone, computer or tablet that you own and the total is your VWI – and the aim is to reduce this score, but loses slight credibility with me when he adds in electricals, such as the coffee machine. Sieberg also mentions that his online life had no substance and that he was ‘friends’ with people who weren’t really his friends, and that his friendships broke down through social media; that he stopped phoning people and having real-life meetings, whereas most of the people I meet have had their relationships enriched by their use of social media but struggle to manage it all – so perhaps his problems ran deeper than just ‘technical overload’?
The book repeatedly says that ‘it’s just an introduction; you need to find your own way’ and it is just that: a book that will give you suggestions, including a 28 day detox plan and ideas – some workable, some unworkable- to overcome your obsession with your Smartphone, Facebook profile, Twitter, etc. and how to reconnect with people in the real world.
Overall, I would recommend this book to someone whose hands never leave their smartphone; or someone whose family is about to disown them because they always give priority to their ‘online friends’; or someone who always texts or tweets through a restaurant meal; or someone who is facing self-esteem issues by the ‘fabulous lives’ their Facebook or Twitter friends have (judging by status updates). It is a starter manual, designed to get you thinking about your online time, and ways in which you can regain your life offline, but sadly it doesn’t take you further than 2nd gear, when most tech-savy addicts really need a book which teaches them how to drive on the motorway.
The Digital Diet by Daniel Sieberg
Souvenir Press £10.00 ISBN 978 0 28564 053 5