Do you ever find yourself manically flicking between Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in an absurdly rapid-fire pace? Or maybe you’ve been heading to bed only to find yourself, forty-five minutes later, deep in Instagram stories of Kylie Jenner doing literally nothing. If any of this sounds familiar, perhaps you could greatly benefit from RESET, an immersive digital detox experience happening at Camp White Pine in Haliburton, Ontario, over Labour Day weekend.
“The way tech is designed [is not] to tap into our highest selves; it’s not necessarily designed to deeply connect us in a way that feels good, because it does play on our insecurities,” says RESET co-founder Negin Sairafi. “Imagine on Instagram if you couldn’t see people’s followers or how many people liked a post.” Frankly, at this point, it’s a world that’s nearly impossible to imagine. Being active and connected online is hard to escape, as many of us have jobs that bank on interconnectivity.
At RESET, you won’t get lectured on how to be more mindful with your phone; rather, you will simply be asked to experiment in your surroundings without it.
“Nature, play, connection, creativity—all the things you [would] be doing if you weren’t on your phone,” says Negin, who, along with a team, designed a program that equalizes the attendees and deletes status, be it your number of followers or your job title. “Because of the no work talk (that’s a rule), there’s also a no networking aspect. When you meet someone, you won’t be asked, ‘What do you do?’ You have to ask different questions and connect in a different way.” How positively foreign; how wonderfully refreshing!
The departure from real life begins when you board the bus to RESET (the only way to reach the camp) and enter a space where you drop your real name and use a fake name. “When you have a nickname, you have permission to be another part of yourself. You can be playful here. I think that’s really profound for people, and it’s fun for us—as organizers—to have these other identities. It’s not someone you are not; it’s a part of you.” What would yours be?
The more we speak to Negin, the more excited we get about sharing our alter ego with a bunch of strangers. The idea of attending arouses a mix of excitement and curiosity. It’s even a bit thrilling. “When you get to White Pine, you are all ready to enter the experience. We don’t take the phones away right away; we generally do something a little more ceremonious. Especially this year, we’re going to lean into play and then go into our fully immersed detox experience.” Think you can handle it?
We asked Negin when and how problematic use is identified, a question we know the answer to: “If there’s a sense of “Who’s in control here?” then you could probably benefit from a break.” Another test is to intentionally leave your phone at home, and then see how many times you reach for it.
Social media, even when we feel in control, can easily trip us. “I think it’s numbing. For my mom, she is away from her family who all live in Iran, so it’s extremely connecting for her, but if you are using it for validation, for distraction, for an escape, to seek something, to try to find a reflection of yourself in that virtual world, then you’re in for quite a long and challenging journey.” While most of us may dismiss the idea that we are seeking validation, if we’re being honest, we know there is an element of that.
Whether the idea elicits a sense of fear or calm, one thing is for certain: most of us really need this.
RESET is happening August 30 to September 2 at White Pine Camp in Haliburton, Ontario. Use promo code RESETCITY to save $75 off ticket price. All the info you need is here, or head here to punch in the promo code and reserve your spot now.