Month: August 2016

How to stop the internet from ruling your life

Photo of laptop
Source: Morguefile.com

 

Go online with a specific goal in mind. Stick to it and then get off.

Set social media time limits. My goal is fifteen minutes a day or less. That’s enough to post something, check your notifications, and get off. Even better, go on social media only every two or three days.

Turn off email notifications for social media. That way you’ll be less tempted to go on Twitter, Facebook, etc. every time you check email.

Take note of how much time you spent online. Visualize how that time could be better spent in real life (What are the things you think you don’t have time for? Exercise, reading, taking a class, getting outdoors, DIY projects?)

For long periods of concentration, invest in an internet-blocking app like Freedom.

Set aside periods of no-tech time–weekends, or a few week nights. Physically separate yourself from your laptop and phone.

Keep parts of your life offline. Try not posting photos of everything. It’s worth printing out special photos and putting them in a physical photo album that only you can see.

Don’t always reply to emails or texts right away. I know, this is heretical these days. However, I believe this is about habit and culture formation. If you’re in the habit of replying to messages right away, it reinforces the need to check your phone or email constantly (and if you don’t, you become freer from your devices). Reply time is socially enforced. When we reply instantaneously, everyone expects others to reply right away–causing us to become dependent on phones and laptops. By taking longer to reply, we shift the norm and break the cycle.

It’s time to get offline when

Consuming one thing makes you want to consume all the things. It’s not enough to read one or two news stories about an event or person; you have to read all of them.

You find yourself thinking about social media even when you’re not it. You think of tweets or pictures to post even when there’s not a phone or laptop in sight.

You’re not on the internet and you’re itching to get back on. The moment you try to do something serious, your mind urges you to take an internet break.

Every time you read a book or watch a movie or do anything at all, you feel the need to know what other people thought about it. You seek out reviews, amateur and professional, trying to find a piece of writing that sums up your feelings about it in an eloquent, satisfying way. These never exist, but you keep searching for them anyway.

You realize there’s an emptiness to the constant pleasure-seeking, scrolling mindlessly through social media feeds–and yet, even once you’ve decided none of these things are satisfying or enlightening, you continue anyway.