A healthy dose of the Internet – how to not become an addict

This post was inspired by the digital detox that I decided to go through this weekend. On Friday night, after feeling exhausted by the online world, I announced out of the blue: I am going to go on a digital detox. The digital detox meant – no phone, no laptop, no internet, no social media for 24 hours.

Saturday morning arrived and boy oh boy did I feel like a 90’s kid again – when the days were longer, the distractions were fewer and playing cards or reading books was a sought-after form of entertainment.

The first few hours of my digital detox went by without me feeling the need to check my phone or see what’s up in the social media world. But by the late afternoon, I was feeling serious withdrawal symptoms. I felt unsettled, almost fidgety! Like something was not quite right. The more time went by, the more I asked myself: Am I seriously struggling just because I do not have access to my laptop or phone? WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK?

It was at that point that I realised I needed to set some boundaries in place so that THE INTERNET doesn’t take over my life.

The funny thing is that describing yourself as ‘a social media addict’/ “internet addict” doesn’t usually inspire concern from other people. In fact, it’s frequently included in bio descriptions on Twitter and Instagram. Internet addiction is widely accepted in our society because most of us are struggling/have struggled/will struggle to put serious boundaries around our usage of the internet.

I personally don’t want to end up an internet addict – I don’t want to fall in the trap of living all of our time online, playing the numbers game, and getting neck deep in comparison. To me any form of addiction is entrapment and any form of entrapment is designed to steal your freedom – and slavery is not something I signed up for.

So here’s what I have decided. I am going to set some healthy boundaries to stop me from going down the slippery road of internet addiction:

1. I will turn my phone off at least once a day for an hour or more. 

Do you ever pick up your phone mindlessly and end up spending 20 minutes watching a tutorial on how to do a smokey eye? No? Just me? Ok. Well, I have decided to turn my phone off more regularly so that I can literally have a break from it.

2. I will not take my phone in the bedroom when it’s time to go to sleep.

I have implemented this since October and heck it’s worked. I found that I was mindlessly scrolling through social media while I was supposed to sleep. So I decided that I would leave my phone in the lounge and pick it up in the morning so that the bedroom is a reserved place for sleep and sex! (btw our generation has a lot less sex and some of it is because of our social media addictions – just saying. -“The nature of communication now is anti-sexual,” said Norman Spack, associate clinical professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “People are not spending enough time alone just together. There’s another gorilla in the room: It’s whatever is turned on electronically.”)

3. I will choose two social platforms

I have lost count how many social platforms there are. But I know that I just don’t have the time to be all over them. So my social networks of choice are Instagram and Pinterest. That’s where you will find me. They are visual and they both work as channels for inspirations when it comes to photography and avenues for connection with a very creative community.

I did the maths. If I spent 5 minutes on 5 social networks a day ( we all know that we don’t spend 5 minutes on social networks anymore but go with me) that is 25 minutes a day spent on social media. 25min x 7 days = almost 3 hours. 3 hours x 4 weeks = 12 hours. So I am spending 12 hours a month on social media. 12h x 12 months = 144 hours – almost 6 days.

But let’s be honest we don’t only spend 5 minutes a day on social media anymore, do we?

Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.

So, I decided that I will only allow myself to be on Pinterest and Instagram. Because I don’t want to spend 5 years looking at what other people are doing with their lives instead of living my own.

4. I will be selective with who I follow on social media

I will stop assuming that I need to follow absolutely everyone back – I don’t have time to engage with 500 accounts. So at the beginning of January, I unfollowed more than 250 accounts.  Having a clear out is healthy, and it frees up more space to fall in love with new accounts… Being intentional about who you follow is healthy!

5. Post with purpose 

I will try to post through the lens of this question “If a million people saw this story, [comment/post/image/video] would it make the world a better place?”

I will also try to enjoy the moments and not care about posting it on social media or maybe do later grams.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? 

Thank you for reading this blog post. If while you were reading this you asked yourself “Do I have an Internet problem?” here’s what you could do to check yourself.

Turn your phone off for 24 hours. Step away from your laptop and try living in the real world with no access to the online universe. If you struggle, if you get fidgety and feel like you really should just turn your phone on chances are you might be a little, tiny bit addicted/devoted to the Internet and you might also need to set some boundaries around your use of the Internet.

Do we really want to go down in history as the people who spent over 5 years of our lives watching funny videos of cats?


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