Just another article about digital detox, social media, and balancing technology use.
“Just a sec.”
If you’re a parent and have ever caught yourself uttering those words then a technology inventory is overdue. More details on my plan a little later.
First, I am a huge fan of useful technology. Emphasis on useful. If I am to adopt any new tech into my daily life it needs to have a solid purpose. Subtle or possible use or novelty don’t qualify. For a new product or service to enter into my time (something we never get back) its benefits have to include unequivocal positives.
I’ve freelanced for many years in the past and have used a spectrum of systems, tools, and other means to communicate, publish, and track my work and its impact. Tech makes things easier, more convenient, and has had a reduced impact on our physical lives in many respects.
Second, this isn’t a monologue on the evils of tech and all of its minions destined to rule and ruin our lives. It’s tough to observe one’s habits without an external perspective. In my case, I have my family, coworkers, and students to keep my personal tech habits in view and in check. As someone who likes to absorb human behavior by default, I take all of my experiences and observations and try to make something of it.
I’ve been a fan of Cal Newport for some time now. Having read his books, listened to his podcast, and subscribed to his blog he encapsulates productivity, intentional use of technology, and using your time for quality pursuits. His no-fluff methods of ridding yourself of the addictive nature of the many apps and sites spoke to my need for a detox of my own.
At first, I applied this minimalistic ethos to social media. As a freelance writer I was steeped in the practice of promoting my work on many platforms. Posting, tweeting, and sharing my work was a part of my remote workday. But as time went on and algorithms favored paid ads and viral negativity my interest in social media waned deeply. I soon deleted all of my work from social media and quit using any of those services for promotional reasons.
I quickly discovered that anything I posted was seen by fewer and fewer people and was virtually ephemeral. My interest dwindled and I soon classified myself as a consumer versus a creator. In other words, I would only look on Facebook, for example, to see if anyone needed to contact me and that was the extent of it.
All in all my social media use became nonexistent. A mark in the “W” column. But I wasn’t done.
More digital work to be done
Many who undergo a self-initiated digital detox will often point exclusively to social media. I was no different. As time went on I found other tech habits replacing social media attention. Reading articles and posts online, researching, and writing on my own sites became the replacement drug. It wasn’t entirely the tools as it was partly my habits that needed a shift.
When your child comes to you and sees that you’re on your phone, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at cat videos or breaking news about the cure for cancer. The fact is that your attention is occupied. I soon made a decision to revamp my detox plan by dissecting my habits (not just tools) and take a critical look at how I was truly spending my time.
Proposed digital detox plan and schedule
Below is a snapshot of my potential plan to control tech use and a few other notes on platforms.
- Loosely schedule use of social media, email, podcasts, and Youtube.
- No more unintentional surfing the web.
- One browser window open at any one time unless working out of necessity.
- Articles/posts pushed to Kindle for reading later.
- No news app.
- Possibly grayscale phone.
Social media platforms:
- Facebook: I use Newsfeed Eradicator. No posting, I don’t look at any posts, I belong to one blogging group, and check it once or twice per week. I may delete in the near future.
- Instagram: Check it once or twice per week. No posting, just following people/interests with value.
- Twitter: I do not use it anymore. It has way too much negativity, politics, and frequency to keep up with. Will most-likely delete soon.
- LinkedIn: (sigh) For some reason I feel like I need it for career purposes. I really don’t see the usefulness. It seems to be a necessary platform to be on, but I’ve had it longer than Facebook and still don’t see what the hype is all about.
Here are some tasks I need to get better at scheduling:
- Reading pushed articles on Kindle.
- Schedule writing.
- Brainstorm, take notes, etc. in physical notebook.
- Schedule university work.
- Schedule reading books. Move to some physical books?
I will refine and revise a few things along the way, but I see a more effective way to a healthier relationship with tech if it isn’t too structured from the start. If I can implement only a few things initially and then organically grow from there then it will “stick” a little better versus an all or nothing approach.
Stay tuned for a follow-up and updates. I’ll leave you with this:
“Don’t let the randomness of your inbox dictate your life.”Niklas Göke
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