A few months ago I made the conscious decision to unplug my life and focus my attention on the world around me instead of the mobile device in my pocket. This idea seemed nice in principle but, like Communism, the reality was a lot different to the ideal. I found myself missing birthday celebrations, I was not writing as many blog posts (I had written a lot of things down on paper, but nothing made it online) and my mum was complaining that I was not looking at her photo stream of her trip to Italy.
The reality of an unplugged life in this day and age is a difficult one. I am not saying it cannot be done, as my father who still reads his newspaper in the physical form and would not know how to turn on an i-phone if his life depended on it, would attest. However, for someone who has grown up in the age of the internet and is used to having information on hand 24/7, a life of being wholeheartedly unplugged just isn’t a reality.
When I eventually came to this realisation, I decided to admit defeat and came up with some guidelines or rules that would allow me to keep up with social events and post my thoughts for you all to read while also giving me that freedom from social media and the online world that I so very much craved.
After following these few simple rules for a week or so, I found that my quality of life was improved. I was sleeping longer and better, exercising more, interacting with friends and family on a personal level instead of via an online messaging services and most importantly, my mum was happy that I was liking and commenting on her photo stream again!
My guidelines for balancing my online needs and my personal sanity are as follows:
1. Don’t touch technology within 2 hours of going to bed: This seems reasonable to most and insane to others, however studies have shown that using technology, in particular mobile devices before bed time prevents the body and mind from naturally winding down from a busy day. This leads to disturbed sleep as the mind is still racing from the overstimulation that our online addictions create.
2. Don’t sleep with your online device in the same room: Nothing disturbs a deep sleep quite like the sound of a Facebook notification. For many people, online media and social networking is an addiction where hearing that beep in the middle of the night creates too much of a temptation to roll over and check who has tagged you in their photo. By leaving your media devices in another room, you are also creating a zone for uninterrupted communication with your loved one – this can lead to other benefits too ;) and also removing the temptation to check your phone or mobile device first thing in the morning.
3. Resist looking at your online device for 2 hours after you wake up: By allowing your body time to naturally wake up, you are giving yourself a better start to the day. Use this time to do some exercise or prepare a healthy breakfast. Stretching for 15 minutes each morning instead of scrolling through Instagram will work wonders for your body and set you on a positive path for your day ahead.
4. Allocate time in your day to check social media and read online news etc: As I found out, prohibition against social media doesn’t work (for me anyway). Allocate yourself 30 minutes at lunch time or in the afternoon to check your social media accounts or read the news online. These days, many news outlets seem to only report negative and sad news so don’t be in a rush to get up to date on the world’s negativity first thing of a morning. Instead, look out the window of your train or bus or undertake a spot of people watching.
5. Eat all of your meals in a tech-free environment: Is there nothing more rude or annoying than seeing someone sit at the restaurant only to be looking down the whole time scrolling over emails or double-tapping photos in Instagram?! Since the dawn of time, meal time and eating food in general has been a social activity. It is a time when family and/ or friends come together to interact and converse about their day. Meal time should be about reconnecting with your loved ones and discovering and discussing new foods and flavours. Leave your mobile device in your bag or pocket, look your loved one in the eye and tell them about your day! (Caveat… If you have a passion for snapping photos of your favourite food or dishes, then a quick photo is permissible. Take your snap and then put your device away).
Hi, my name is Louie and I enjoy taking photos of food. I have been clean now for 5 hours but I have no doubt I will do it again soon.
Pappa Louie and Nan stopping to smell the roses: At 84, my Nan owns an i-pad, so what hope do I have of ever truely unplugging?!
Another food photo for good measure!