In the following lines, two people share with us their experiences after giving up using Intnernet or accessing social media for some time, either as a self-made choice or an imposed situation. While reading them, ask yourself whether you would be able to try such an experience.
And how I survived a life of disconnectedness in this digital age.
Picture 1 Illustration by Camille Bossel
[Originally published on Jan 26, 2016]
Since basing ourselves in Istanbul, myself and Camille, my girlfriend have gone without wifi in our new flat for well over a month now. Along with no gas, no heating, no hot water, no furniture and on occasion no electricity. But I found the lack of wifi presented itself as one of the biggest issues, having always been connected everywhere I go when living in London this lack of connectivity needed a bit of adapting to.
What I discovered is the amount of wasted time. Yes, everyone says theyâ€™re aware of the time they waste but few really act. Having no wifi at home meant that in order to plug in and check my phone or use my laptop I had to get out, head to the nearest cafe and use the wifi there, which on occasion was slow and/or cut-off depending on the amount of people inside. As the days without wifi passed by these visits to the cafe become less frequent and far more focussed. I set aside only a few hours of the day where Iâ€™d have my time to plug in and started to use my online privileges far more effectively.
Somehow, the act of getting out my way to look semi-presentable, grab my laptop and make the 2-minute walk to my nearest cafe triggered me into work mode. I no longer had the need to watch that random video of a â€˜drunkâ€™ panda trying to make it up a hill. I just wanted to get all my work done before the â€˜after workâ€™ folks started flowing in and the wifi starts slowing down.
The biggest change was what happened at home. No wifi meant I was barely on my laptop, and never checked my phone. I went from an environment where I was always connected, scrolling through my news feed while boiling the kettle, reading emails in bed, checking Snapchat while on the loo (you know you do it too đ&#x;‘€), to all of a sudden not having the choice but to use my time for something else. Of course, there is still a lot of work that can be done without wifi, but thatâ€™s the point, my time was spent working not browsing. Before Iâ€™d leave the cafe Iâ€™d download essays to read or set tasks to complete like writing this article or finishing up a clientâ€™s proposal.
Picture 2 Image from Product Huntâ€Šâ€”â€ŠPretty Fly for a WiFi http://bit.ly/1RliUwS
I began reading more (currently halfway through â€˜Lean Inâ€™), listening to audiobooks (if you havenâ€™t already download â€˜Trust me Iâ€™m Lyingâ€™) and even found the time to start painting, although itâ€™s nothing youâ€™ll see in a gallery anytime soon. Previously I always struggled to â€˜find the timeâ€™ to do things Iâ€™ve wanted and needed to, like yoga or cooking. When youâ€™re always connected you forget how much time you spend on your devices, the little Picture 3 Hobbies
moments on Snapchat, reading that extra post or
article and so on really add up and can take up a surprisingly large amount of your daily time.
â€œTo summarise, it made me appreciate my time better.â€? Weâ€™re still without wifi, gas or hot water for now but we should have them up by the end of the week. Whether or not Iâ€™ll carry on adopting these techniques, Iâ€™m not yet sure. But we have set one rule which weâ€™ll both be sticking to which is no devices in the bedroom, nada, just books and notebooks. It allows us make the bedroom truly a place of relaxation, helped me get to sleep quicker and follows from the advice of many successful entrepreneurs.
Now Iâ€™m not saying to everyone, go find your router and burn it đ&#x;”Ľ. Instead, be conscious of the time you spend unnecessarily on your devices at home and if you really â€˜canâ€™t find the timeâ€™ to focus on other activities youâ€™ve always wanted to do, maybe think about setting an hour or two when at home to be completely unconnected and focus on these.
Update: Itâ€™s been 3 months since writing this and I just wanted to share how my goals have been going. Iâ€™m still mindful of the time I spend online but definitely the temptation of browsing the internet is strong . My solution to this? Factor in browsing 3 times a day at 15â€“30 minute intervals. Once in the morning, once at lunch and once at the evening. This way the rest of my time spent online is focussed purely on
work. Also still going strong with the ‘no electronic devices in bed’ challenge and couldn’t be happier — so much extra time for activities!
Picture 4 Crossing out dates
the lack of something: absence of something you desire
waste (verb): spend in a negative way
the environment: external factors and forces surrounding and affecting a person
the “loo”: the toilet
entrepreneur: a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, or business.
focus on (verb): concentrate in
factor in (verb): take into account, consider
a challenge: a difficult thing to accomplish
By DREW TILLMAN 4 YEARS AGO
One week ago, I decided to make a pretty epic decision by today’s standards: I was going to quit social media for seven days. There were a number of factors influencing my decision, but mainly I was feeling overwhelmed with my social media habits and thought it would be useful and interesting to take a step back. Some of the results were expected (reaching for my phone every few minutes in the beginning), but there were
realizations as well.
Just so we’re on the same page, I define
Picture 5 Social Networks are turning me crazy
social media as any platform where you share content with an active audience. As such, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat were the obvious restrictions, though I also avoided apps like Vine and Foursquare, though those aren’t as relevant to me on a daily basis. I didn’t avoid dating apps because I saw them as a direct one-to-one communication, like email or text messages. (Also, I wasn’t about to miss out on meeting the love of my life for an experiment.)
The morning of my first day, I woke up and blindly grabbed for my phone and instinctively put in my password, navigated to my social folder, and opened Instagram. Oh, wait … damn! That snapped me fully awake and I closed the app.
I realized very quickly how much time I usually spend mindlessly browsing photos on social apps—from the minute I wake up—so it goes without saying that I struggled a bit trying to fill time when I was bored, time normally spent with my trusty phone: in transit, waiting in line, waiting to meet a friend. I found myself opening my phone and just staring it, which made me feel a little crazy.
Picture 6 A woman staring at her smartphone while having lunch
As a result of my social media diet, I started to fill the void by spending more time on dating apps, where I found myself to be more forward than I was before. When dating apps got boring, I downloaded four new games, which are insanely addicting and basically soaked up any dead time that I had in the absence of social media.
As you can see, I didn’t really spend less time on my phone—I just found more solitary ways to feed the addiction. If I really want a challenge, my next experiment should probably be one week, no phone.
As the days progressed, I did notice my interest in social media started to wane. I wasn’t anxious to find out what fun things my friends were doing or eating. In fact, I wasn’t even thinking about them.
Picture 7 Notifications sidebar on Facebook
notifications on my social apps which made me curious, but in a few days I didn’t care about those either. That dreaded feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, in case you’re not up on your social media acronyms) started to evaporate, and it felt amazing.
Also amazing: The feeling of becoming unburdened by people’s photos that I’m so often plagued by. You know, the ones that drive you into a fit of cyberstalking, like a photo of a crush, an ex, a friend you’re in a fight with, someone you’d like to be closer to, or someone whose social media habits generally annoy you. It’s a very powerful thing when you realize that all those negative feelings you get from scrolling Instagram can be avoided with a little willpower.
The week of my cleanse also happened to be a busy week socially (socially in real life—imagine that) with dates, dinners, and events. This proved challenging at first, because I typically take every opportunity to find the right
maximize likes. I’ll ham it up for the camera and do embarrassing things just to get a laugh on social media. Sometimes I obsess about getting my shot so much that I can’t have fun at a party until I get it. It’s ridiculous, I’m fully aware.
However, it was incredibly relieving not to care about “getting the shot.” In fact, I was surprised to notice that, by extension, I took
significantly less photos throughout the week. Instead, I was fully engaged in what I was doing and who I was seeing, as opposed to being out and spending the whole night on my phone.
By the end of the week, it was fascinating to see how a week without social media changed my behaviors and perceptions. Moving forward, I don’t think I’ll cut social media out completely—it’s way too fun and I do enjoy sharing my perspectives and experiences with others— but instead of jumping back in with both feet, I plan to modify my usage. For example, I’ll post a photo or a quote when I
to find something to post at every opportunity. I also think I’ll avoid scrolling mindlessly through my feed and instead start to go directly to people’s profile when I’m interested in how they’re doing.
Overall, quitting social media for a whole week took a little getting used to but proved to be easier and more enjoyable than I thought— it’s a liberating feeling not to constantly use it as a crutch or a mindless time waster. If you’re someone who’s starting to feel overwhelmed
I definitely encourage you to try experimenting with a break yourself.
Picture 8 I did it - step by step
overwhelmed: feeling of being overpowered in mind
avoid (verb): keep away from
on a daily basis: every day
a void: an empty space
wane (v): decrease, become smaller
find out (v): discover
dread (v): be reluctant to experience
cyberstalk (v): follow someone in their social media pages without being seen or noticed
a cleanse: the result of making clean
ham it up (v): to act in an exaggerated way
a crutch: anything that serves as a temporary support or aid
You have read the experiences of two people so far. Have you reflected on your own usage of your smartphone and the time you spend on it? Do you consider it a waste of time?
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