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Digital Detox Retreats

by Vanessa Ullman

photo by Chika Okoye

If it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen. This millennial and Gen Z mantra is commonly used among those with an up to date social media account. People pick the best vacation destinations based on recommendations from their friends’ posts, share that they tried a hot new restaurant on Facebook, or tweet about how they ran into a famous person on the street.

For some people, this phrase is starting to get old. While social media addiction is one problem, the constant need to share with other each curated Instagram moment is not exactly beneficial to one’s mental health.

Digital detox retreats are one way that some people have started combatting this addictive habit. At Miravel, participants are encouraged to stay off of their devices and simply enjoy activities with others, purely for the sake of enjoying them. Labeled as a mindfulness retreat, Miravel is supposed to “help people fill in the [tech-free] gaps in their day,” said Jill Harlow, the brand and marketing director at Marvel Group. “There’s a lot of play here.”

Contrary to this, this resort offers a number of events that could be noted as “Instagram Worthy.” From meditation with horses, to tightrope walking, partakers are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and try something new. This differs from a number of other detox retreats, such as SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain, that emphasizes meditation and wellness at the resort. There are also excursions tailored to health, such as Amatara Wellness Resort, which puts a focus on healthy cooking classes in their class options.

As one might expect, these digital detox retreats come at a high price point. Miravel is $529 for a one night stay, whereas Villa Stephanie, in Baden-Baden, Germany, can range from 265 to over 400 euros. These retreats, though not explicitly, are aimed at a particular income and age bracket, as indicated by the high price point. In order to attend a retreat one must spend too much time on screens, meaning they own a plethora of technological devices, many of which cost hundreds of dollars. There is also the notion that one can afford a retreat stay after having spent money on the devices, which indicates a high level of disposable income that a majority of Americans do not have.

While digital detox retreats are typically branded as elite, the concept behind them is commendable. Often times it is easy to forget that vacations existed well before smartphones, and that before 2008 people traveled to new places just for the experience. Even though disposable and polaroid cameras are coming back into fashion, it is trendy to still post an Instagram of the polaroid photo, signifying a self-important travel experience.

It is easier said than done to completely write off all Instagram travel photos. Maybe you saw a moose on your hike, or maybe you reunited with your friend from 3000 miles away. However, taking a “digital detox” on vacation, or just in general, is never a bad idea. The first step might be turning your phone on silent at a new restaurant, and not jumping at the first chance to post an Instagram story; or, it could be going camping with friends and only using cell phones for navigation and other necessities.

Unlike an Instagram post, a digital detox can be as private as you make it. And even if you don’t post about something on Instagram, you can keep all of the memories, both good and bad, in your heart.

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