In the past few months, I started noticing that I’ve become a slave. I’m a slave to the internet, and I’m a slave to my phone. I tried remembering how many times I haven’t used my phone for more than an hour in the last few years, but I couldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the internet. I hear the old-schoolers talk about how the internet is killing everything, how we humans are deteriorating because of it. I hear them say that bloggers are not journalists and that social connections are not relationships, but I think they are wrong.
Technology, including in large part the internet, alongside human relationships, is one of the connections that moves our society forward. The innovation that appears in all aspects of our daily lives allows us to be smarter, faster, better. So every time I hear the old-schoolers talk about how the internet is a bad thing, I wonder why they wouldn’t want to be better.
The BIG problem with the internet is that it makes us dependent. Quite often, I see people (and I’m one of them) that actually look and act like junkies. They can’t stop playing with their phone, iPod, PC, or tablet. They can’t disconnect themselves from the non-stop stream of information that the internet provides us. Like everything in life, when you find yourself dependent on something, it might be the right time to start thinking about whether you need to stop and restart yourself.
Here are a few tips to help you take a break from your digital addiction:
1. Put your phone face-down.
I recently had the good fortune of discovering a fantastic project called undigitize.me. This project is a creation of a young entrepreneur who had enough. He wanted to focus on the things that mattered the most, mainly the people he encountered and his thoughts. One day he realized that the phone was his biggest obstacle.
So what does it mean to put your phone face-down? It means that you are preventing your mobile device from capturing your attention every time you receive an email, message, or any other stream of information. It’s not just a statement; it’s a way of life. Keeping your phone face-down means that you are trying to normalize the way you think and act, it means that once again you are in control of your time and focus and will not let any app or service control you.
2. Go back to sleep.
Since moving to New York (while my team remains in Tel Aviv), I have been suffering from severe jet lag. This basically causes me to wake up at least three times throughout the night.
The big problem with waking up in the middle of the night, is that while its 3:30 AM in New York it’s also 10:30 AM in Tel Aviv. This means that in the middle of the night, I wake up to at least thirty emails, messages, and push notifications. For some reason, I can’t help but check each one of those notifications until I’m so awake that sleep has become impossible. One thing leads to another, and I suddenly find myself answering emails and going on Facebook and Twitter, all because I picked up my phone instead of going back to sleep.
3. Walk everywhere.
I’m a big fan of walking, and I try to take a walk whenever possible. Besides the fact that it’s so healthy for your body and your mind, walking allows me to focus on the world around me instead of looking at my phone. One of the reasons I like walking is that it’s the only time I have to myself. I put some music on, and just walk. I can’t text or send emails because not only is it not comfortable, but it’s impossible to think properly while on the move. Walking allows me to concentrate on my thoughts and relax.
There is much to say about the effect meditation has on your body and soul. Sitting quietly and slowly breathing in and out gives you time to focus on your inner self. Taking just a bit of time from your daily schedule to perform mediation will allow you to stop everything at once and focus on yourself with no other distractions. Dedicating even 5 minutes a day to meditate can provide you with quiet relief from all the distractions out there such as your phone and computer.
5. Turn off (most of) your push notifications.
The good thing about push notifications is that they ensure that you won’t miss anything happening right now. The downside is that you can never know when the next distraction is coming. To be fair, I understand the importance of enabling push notifications from your email client, so let’s focus on other apps. Do you really need instant notification about every ‘like’ you get on Instagram, or every time someone invites you to an event on Facebook?
Think about how much you can reduce the noise and distraction if you turned off the push notifications in most of your news/social apps. As I said, push notifications can help us to not miss important things that come into our phone, but too many push notifications from less important sources and apps can prevent us to see the real things that we will came across in our real life.
Technology, sometimes we can’t live with it but we certainly can’t live without it. but once we know how to find the balance between our constant need to be fed with information to the human need of interacting with others—we will stop being digital slaves.
We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions regarding how to stop being a slave to the digital world we live in. Leave a comment below!
It’s easy to be lazy about social networking: just ‘forget’ to log in to LinkedIn for a week or two: The Lazy Social Networker: Should You Go Offline?Featured photo credit: Kenneth Pasternak - Throw Away Your Phone