I have been intrigued by the changes in our digital habits over years, especially with booming popularity of social media applications, and also with the advent of mobile applications pertaining to almost everything from cooking to exercising and even meditating.
Nostalgia of Pre-Digital Times
I wonder if we can imagine going back to our digital essentialism, where technology simply stood at the periphery like eager waiters, ready to be at service when needed. Now, they sit with us on our tables, taking the prime attention.
Today, the digital technology is simply enveloping us, or should I say smothering us, sucking out our own identities. It is stealing away our precious time and emotions. Isn’t it? Don’t you feel that way?
“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” -Pablo Picasso
I miss my time with myself, when I used to be alone…. thinking nothing, doing nothing, giving my mind a sabbatical. And from that sabbatical, arose a multitude of brilliant ideas. Where has this ‘time to get bored’ disappeared? Now, I don’t get time to be bored, and create something new out of my boredom, courtesy my persistent, glue-like companion, none other than my mobile!
Please don’t think that I abhor technology. I love technology, just as long as I remain the master of it. Its only when this digital technology threatens me, I bite back, just like I am doing right now. Anything in excess is harmful; And I feel our digital world has crossed those limits of excess.
Would you still like to do nothing about it? Would you still like to get swayed with the shiny baubles of social media and thousands of application icons on your mobile?
Are you aware of the effects of this overwhelming exposure of digital technology on not just your mental health but also your physical and social health?
Have you ever wondered why there isn’t much talk about the electromagnetic radiation and body posturing, sleep deprivation with the
use overuse of gadgets. Don’t be surprised; There won’t be much noise about it. The political and financial world will crash if we discipline our digital use. It is after all our (over) consumption and (over) zealous lapping up of this digital technology fuels their pockets!
Times of Social Media
Mark Zuckerberg, the pioneer of social media applications in today’s world, with his Facebook application has created something that is gradually turning into a Frankenstein. He created an application that lets you peep into the lives of others and let others do the same. Yes, it started as ‘keep in touch with long distance friends’ but today it is a booming social media nuisance just like Twitter and Instagram. These apps are sucking away the content and happiness of individuals, not to mention their time and ‘life cost’ in exchange for pumping their own pockets.
“The digital innovation that set out to connect people, has slowly started to tear those people apart both from within and without.”
― Abhijit Naskar, The Gospel of Technology
Talking about social media use, I consider it a substance abuse disorder. Its use from an early age leads to addiction, anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. Social media now is no more an innocent entertainer but rather a silent killer that hits your thinking processes and releases toxins inside your brain.
As long as you make social media work for your work, it stays in its disciplined shell of limited power. But as soon as you let it enter your personal life, it goes rogue; it sneaks up on you, unleashes its devilish pangs of addiction, and when time comes it doesn’t hesitate to bully you. Social media subtly and strongly manipulates your need for social approval.
Several studies claim that higher use of social media is associated with higher incidences and levels of anxiety-related problems.
I have decided to minimize my digital use, starting, of course, from social media applications. I am not calling for a SM boycott movement (even though it is needed). However, we can learn to minimize it. This thought of digital decluttering led me to certain books that I have mentioned towards the end of this blog post.
Changing My Digital Habits
I am not propagating to stop technology but to be mindful of one’s digital habits. Don’t let the gadgets suck you. I, for instance have decided to change some ground rules while using social digital technology. I made some small changes in my digital personality that brought me a deep sense of freedom, calmness and loads of ‘thinking time.’ It gave me a better perspective on my life and what I exactly wanted from technology. Maybe some of these ideas can help you too:
- Park your phone away from you for hours.
- Minimize the use of social media. These applications are time-sucking leeches. Delete these apps from mobile. Access them only via a web browser.
- Fix up a time for checking mails. Unsubscribe to many forums to declutter your inbox.
- Make your online time more meaningful and intentional.
- Use only one app for one purpose. For example, I use only one app for all my shopping needs. I avoid springing through many apps to see which offers best deals. There is no end to this habit.
- Read books in free time, instead of scrolling through social media.
- Go for walks without phone or any other gadget.
Let go the need for social approval. It is this mental flaw that these SM apps exploit to get people into a smothering web of ‘likes, comments, and views’. It’s time you take back control from your digital device and apps. I would suggest you watch the Netflix docudrama film “The Social Dilemma“, that will explain you the mechanics behind social media addiction.
It’s time to get back to solitude. How long it has been when you enjoyed a cup of tea with your own company? Remove digital distractions from your life. Make digital technology work for you. Don’t be a slave to it. Learn to cultivate high-quality leisure time and declutter low-quality digital distractions from our lives. Believe me you do not need to know everything that is going around in the world.
Before I leave you to ponder upon these words, here are a few book suggestions that might help you to declutter your digital life:
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
- Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
- Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey
- How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price
- Mindshift by Barbara Oakley
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
Remember, smartphones do not matter, smart mobile apps do not matter. It is the smart people with their smart ideas and brains that matter in society.
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