We’re told to discern obligation accordingly to minimize the upshot it has for others, creatively molding decisions until the ripple is no longer affecting the other side of the lake.
This is evidently projected in the online world. Selfie posts aren’t just selfie posts. They’re meant to be examined, however intensely, by other users behind the screen. It’s no wonder we have statistics framed only for tracking impressions or clicks. The visits, the duration of each visit, the conversion of the visit to a subscription, the conversion of the subscription to a purchase, and the conversion of the purchase to constant and steady future purchases. Every discount, every pop-up, every stylistic choice of fonts and colors in a banner, they’re all engineered to get you to click.
Now you know how valuable your less-than-a-second, barely-an-effort action at a no-absolute-cost on your side, and how it is meticulously calculated by our personal machines.
Call it scary or mind-bogglingly creepy (my 15-year-old self would passionately agree), but the giant on our part also hasn’t done its whole job. By pretending to have read the contract we signed upfront and not checking the cards we already have to be careful and informed consumers, all the disclosed terms and conditions will haunt us till the day of regret.
The frightening prospect of the digital age is a hammock for the likes of you and me to magnify our focus on the things that we do have control over. As we mature, the only winning charity we can do is to look out for each other. But before we can be capable of doing that, we have to be a master of looking out for ourselves.
The internet is not evil. Just like money or social media, it is a tool and it’s up to us how violently we’d swing it to other people’s necks or use it to build a shelter for our advantage. Granted, there is a heavy accountability in using these tools however obscured the responsibility may be.
So I elect my time and place to propose that our online presence is not us. And the more we wade in deeper in the digital waters, the more we lose ourselves in the billboard-versions of us.
Here’s how I take the matter into my own hands:
1/ Screen-free morning
The psychological and mental effects of waking up to an LCD screen in the morning is already a given. I would assume that everyone absolutely agrees, if not slightly, that dopamine addiction: like an exaggerated answer of what happens to your stomach when you swallowed a gum.
I tackle this down by having screen-free mornings. The first thing you let out in the world is as important as what you are taking in from it. It is a give-and-take relationship that is not only epidemic to the feel-good community.
It’s true, isn’t it, that each thought matters no matter how many of them are fluttering about in your head. Morning is that time you give each of them a firm handshake.
2/ Writing in paper
This isn’t for the sake of going traditional because I have a rooted hatred for digital machines and the web. Mind you, I treat my gadgets and the internet with utmost respect that it can’t be comparable to the respect I have for the survival things I constantly need. I owe them a great chunk of my knowledge, my studies, my job, and the beautiful community that goes along with all of it.
This has something to do with being an active or a passive thinker. We write slower on paper than on the computer. And the slower you write, the better. This is because we need subvocalization to give each thought a room to breathe. This way, a heavier investment of attention goes into thinking, condensing and writing. It becomes an active way of pondering.
3/ Airplane mode during sleep
If you love sleeping with your smartphone, another form of mild disconnection with all the notifications you get at night is to go airplane mode before sleeping. You can hug and spoon it all night this way.
Having your phone anywhere nearby doesn’t stop the radiation exposure even if you turn it off. And turning on the airplane mode is one of the many ways it doesn’t affect your deep non-REM sleep.
4/ Spending more time with books
Information literacy is the distillation process that creates a strong distinction between being a data sponge and a data filter. We need both qualities these days and have a sense of creativity where these skills would apply. Incidentally, one feeds off the other.
Approaching this the conservative way, through reading physical books, delivers a more consolidated product by reorganizing the steps of research: pick a topic, look up the masters and the giants on the topic and be a disciple of their teachings. Only then, you can start diversifying the information you’re exposed in to zoom out on the ever-growing field that you have embarked upon.
Of course, reading fictional stories and other story-type books bends the steps a little bit but you get the gist.
The distractions eliminated and the immersive experience of reading something off a physical book are added bonus points only.
5/ Intentionalism with schedule
The final point of my undertaking to minimize the time being spent on the internet is being intentional with the activities that I’m including in my schedule.
This is the time where our dreams have come to the market at little to no cost at all. The resources required to learn something is, again, out there and does not ask for cash. The innovations these days are marketed towards the likes of you and me rather than the field of science or mathematics like the times before. Everything is at the touch of our fingertips.
With everything basically presenting itself at your doorstep, it can be tricky to choose which of these free cookies you’d rather spend your time with. Too many choices means higher chances of bad decisions. And time shouldn’t be wasted. Pick your top priorities and become one with them.
What we put out in the world is much more enlightening than what we take in from it. It is not other people’s job to create things for dissipation. We are all born with the aptness to create. And it is a merit to be human and use our human ways to build each other’s ingenuity.
Given the ugly flavors of my former journal system, I had to come up with a new sexy design that would serve as both style and function. When the light gets in, it’s a complete theatre with all of my actors and actresses dolled up to perfection.