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Digital Detox Diaries: Through The Lens

In conversation with Pasco, a wedding photographer and Co-Founder and Director of Men’s Circle

Pasco is a wedding photographer and Co-Founder and Director of Men’s Circle, a self-development group for men to talk without judgement.
Based in East London, Pasco is a veteran of Unplugged, having escaped the demands of city life for digital detoxes at three of our cabins; Gruff, Monty and Olive.
Here, Pasco shares why getting back to basics helped him to challenge hustle culture and celebrate slowing down.
 

Switching off your phone your mind

 
Reading in the window of Olive Unplugged Cabin in the woods
Reading in the window of Olive Unplugged Cabin in the woods

Unplugged: Why did you book a digital detox?

Pasco: I love the concept as I find it hard to switch off. My girlfriend and I spend so much time in the week on our phones or laptops. So even before our stay, we've had weekends where we consciously turn off our phones. But the idea of going out into nature without our phones felt really nice.
 

Were you apprehensive about being disconnected from the world?

Overall, no. I've had periods of my life where I haven't had a phone. It took me a long time to get a smartphone anyway. As a freelancer, I was worried I might miss emails over the weekend. But you get to Monday and realise it can wait. I now make a point of telling people not to apologise if they don’t reply straight away.
 

How would you describe your first impressions of the cabin?

The first cabin we went to was called Gruff. It had a very warm feeling because of all of the wood. There's a honey tint to the room, particularly when the sun is streaming in. You could tell a lot of thought had been put into the cabin with space-saving storage and luxury touches. There's something relaxing about having such a small space because you don't take much with you.
 
Playing scrabble at Unplugged Cabin Olive
Playing scrabble at Unplugged Cabin Olive

Why is it important to get back to basics?

We can become unconsciously overwhelmed. I focus on mental health as part of my work for the Men's Circle. There's evidence to show that social media and the internet have been driving factors of anxiety. If I speak for myself, there's a certain amount of anxiety that can come with the constant demands of the internet and digital expectations. Unplugging allows freedom from that.
 

Can you tell me some of the things you did when you were there?

Our most recent stay in the Monty cabin was probably the first time I've ever read a whole book in a weekend. It was a book that was already in the cabin called "Do Nothing." And it was talking about expectations around productivity. When I arrived at the cabin, I noticed I found it hard to relax. I think that's such a symptom of capitalism and society and how we measure our success through our productivity. We forget that resting and enjoying cooking or looking at nature is a way to live. We don't always have to be getting somewhere or achieving something. Slowing down feels like an achievement in itself.
 
Polaroid shots of Pasco’s stay at Olive
Polaroid shots of Pasco’s stay at Olive

You had your camera with you during your stay. Did that impact your ability to switch off?

My camera feels very different to a phone. A phone is constantly calling for your attention. When you get a notification, your curiosity as a human plays into, "What could that be? I'm going to read it." Which then requires thinking to work out how to respond. That all layers up. I've been shooting for so long, the camera has become an extension of myself.
 

Being in the outdoors

How did the digital detox change your experience of being outdoors?

Just presence more than anything. There is a subtle attention your phone takes when it's there. I'm aware that my phone is next to me, and there's a slight temptation to check it. We're so used to multitasking all the time. But it takes up more of our energy, and we do less. It's a useful practice to do one thing at a time.
 
Roaming pigs at Olive Unplugged Cabin
Roaming pigs at Olive Unplugged Cabin

Did you find anything surprising during your stay?

Three pigs? That was very surprising! Yeah, three ginger pigs came out of nowhere like roaming free. It was very random. They were very friendly and curious. They just followed us around for a bit.
 

How would you describe the overall feeling during your stay?

It was just very relaxing. Letting go. Easy. It's that beautiful mix of luxury in terms of the warm, well-designed home and the expansiveness of nature. Being blissfully at one with nature through the massive windows.
 

When you think of the word “unplug”, what comes to mind?

I think it's the internet that you're unplugging from, more than anything. It's the attention that it grabs. It's Netflix, it’s the infinite amount of information and entertainment. It's about coming back to the basics. They still have the Nokia 3310 for emergencies. I turned that off, though. I don't know why.
 

Advice and new habits for phone addicts

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to reduce their screen time?

What helps me is just completely removing the temptation. If I go to a restaurant, I consciously don't take my phone. I've been better at turning my phone off or into aeroplane mode much earlier, maybe 8pm. And in the mornings, I try to only turn it on around 9am, so I've had at least an hour to arrive to the day. I'm very much on my way. It's just a new habit to learn.
 
Sitting by the open fire pit at Unplugged Cabin
Sitting by the open fire pit at Unplugged Cabin

Are there any habits that you took on while staying in the cabins that you have been able to maintain?

It's spurred my reading habits. I didn't read much before this year – now I've read six books. I'm sure Unplugged has had something to do with that. It felt like a real achievement to finish a whole book in a weekend, particularly considering I'm quite dyslexic. So I'm not always the quickest of readers.
 

Why is it important for men to take time offline?

A question I often ask men is, "When was the last time you spent a day with yourself?" Off your phone to reconnect with who you are – not trying to achieve anything necessarily. And not being co-dependent or reliant on someone else to justify who you are. I think many people are afraid of being on their own in that way because of what might come up in their minds, or they might be bored, but I would always advocate for that time. I think there's a lot of power in that kind of solitude.
 

 
Pasco was gifted a stay by Unplugged. You can book your stay here.
Interview by Harriet Osborne // @harrietosborne
Featuring Pasco // @pasco.photography
Photography by Pasco // @pasco.photography