We live in such a connected world these days. I’m old enough to remember that when I wanted to go online, it meant that I had to head off to a cybercafe (which was literally a cafe serving coffee, with computers connected to the internet, not the seedy joints with zombie gamers/punters) and hand over a sackful of cash for 15 precious minutes on the internet where I first had to listen to the squealing of the modem as it made its attempts to establish a connection.
These days, we all have mobile data on our phones which are essentially mini computers, free wifi in most places, and high-speed broadband at home. Well, relatively speaking. It’ll be unthinkable not to, and a disaster to check in to a hotel to discover there’s no free wifi. What?! (Well, most do these days – it’ll be suicide not to provide it! 😀 )
But do you ever feel like there’s just too much going on online, that leaves you, the consumer, feeling overwhelmed? Yes? No? Just me? 😛
I get that way now and again. I consume a lot of information online that isn’t necessarily related to just beauty and blogging, but news and other things as well and that can lead to information overload. Email used to demand quick responses, and now, I’ve realised that some people don’t even try to email you anymore – they go straight onto WhatsApp, and an answer is expected almost immediately.
I find that stressful, annoying, and it disturbs my mind.
Before this, what I’d do is disappear for a while from Twitter or Instagram, because it just got too much, and you don’t feel like talking to some people, or seeing certain things, for a while. Also, when I realised that I was annoyingly being stalked, I made a conscious decision to curate (damn, I detest that word 😛 ) my feed. Very little of what you see is instant anymore. I value my privacy.
But what I also do these days, is to consciously go on a “Digital Detox” every now and then. For starters, I use the “Do Not Disturb” function on my phone to mute all notifications during sleeping hours. This means I don’t get bugged from 10pm-8am, and it stops me from looking at my phone during this time too. Generally speaking, I’m offline by 9pm till the next day. In this time, I’m usually found watching some TV or more often, reading, and spending time away from the internet.
During the day, I set aside pockets of time when I don’t look at my phone, nor check my emails. Not only does it allow me to get more work done, more quickly, I feel better too. On days off, or weekends, I take this time offline to cook or potter about my home. I like the disconnect, and the working with my hands during this time, just to reconnect with myself or with others.
When I can’t get internet connection or wifi, I no longer get stressed. Instead, I almost relish being offline. Yes, I still whip out my phone to take a photo, or capture something interesting. But I don’t feel the need to upload it and tell the world about it immediately. Well, not unless it’s “work” related 🙂 If I’m out of the country and in a cafe where there’s no wifi, I just put my phone away and people watch. It’s liberating, and you give your eyes (and mind) a rest. I don’t put my day on Instagram Stories or Snapchat, and it’s not only because of privacy or having a boring day, but also because I am not always online, or if I am, I am not always looking at my phone or tablet or computer.
I guess you could say that I’m learning to disconnect myself from the wired world in order to reconnect. I think it’s important that we do. When I meet people or talk to people, I try to make a conscious effort to not look at my phone, or sometimes, I switch it to silent mode so notifications are muted. Often, I only take calls not messages, and even then, only ones from people I know, or for work. When I had meals with a friend who’d always be on the phone, I made it a rule that phones were out of bounds during the meal. It gives you at least 15-30 minutes where you are forced to talk to each other, and that’s a good thing!
As a society, I think we’re all a little too caught up in our online worlds. Some of us could even feel that false sense of importance inflated by large numbers ascribed next to our names or personas. It’s just as important to stop, look up from the phone and realise that in the big scheme of things, no one knows (or really cares) who you are 😀
What say you? Are you able to disconnect? Do you detox yourself digitally every now and then?
I decided to do it when I realised I was a little too caught up with staying up to date on everything. You eventually realise you can’t. That’s when I hit a mental roadblock. But when I realised that I could stay offline and the world still didn’t end (LOL! 😀 ), I knew it was time I appreciate what’s out there! 🙂 I realise it’s ironic, since you’d have to be online to comment, but tell me how you feel about living in this wired age 😀