Imagine that I can say in full confidence that I often miss looking at the Sun or the Moon everyday but unfailingly reach out to my smart phone, akin to a religious ritual, both when I wake up and when I go to sleep.
I reckon I spend at least 5 to 7 hours a day (and that is everyday) being connected to the digital world. Guess that would amount to be an addiction, right?
I have a desk job and it involves spending a lot of time working on my laptop and using the screen reader. Back at home I spend a fair amount of time late into the night surfing the net and doing my favourite online activities. Even during the briefest interval available I would be fiddling with my smart phone.
It wasn’t always like this – my generation grew up outdoor and we did not have much in terms of digital entertainment. Back in those pre-internet and cable TV days, we only had a state-provided TV channel that beamed stuff that I would choose to watch for only an hour or two at the most. The weekly movie was a much awaited affair and if the movie was not of your choice, it was a real disappointment.
I first came across a computer only after I started to study for my PG degree in Management. Till then I never knew what was a website or an email. Even after that I took a hard-core Marketing job that involved meeting people and being on the road. I used to spend very little time online.
Things have rapidly changed and my current lifestyle has grown on me and is my comfort zone now. I get edgy if I am not able to connect to the established routine – a day when our net connection was down was quite irritating for me. I have given up on reading books – am an information junkie online instead. I have given up on writing my diary – am into blogging instead.
Having identified the problem, I plan to take the following baby steps to do a course correction –
- Am hooked to reading news online – every flash attracts me. I end up reading multiple variants of the same news item. I wish to remain connected but would curb my instinct to read it often. A baby step would be to read it only once in every 3 hours.
- Am signed up on far too many newsletters – it does seem that many while subscribing. But it is quite a list. A lot of it is duplicate as well – many are to do with the markets and investments while I have long quit being an active player on the markets. It is an easy kill to simply unsubscribe to what I no longer require.
- Googling every query that comes to your mind is a convenient option, but I guess one should limit reading multiple results that pop up for the most innocuous query. And one needs to bear in mind that even the most popular results could be inaccurate or worse, misleading.
- I reach for my smart phone during every little break and start surfing – I could be in a lift, I could be travelling a short distance, I could be waiting for a meeting to start, I could be waiting for my lunch, I could be taking a Coffee break. It is just endless. A baby step would be to resist the temptation and do it only once in every 3 hours.
- If I am having a conversation – no matter how casual – I will not break it to take a phone call.
- Luckily I was never into texting or gaming, so that is one temptation that is so easy to avoid.
- On weekends as well I spend a lot of time online – would actively switch off my digital world for longish slots 4-6 hours at a time so that I get into alternate activities.
On a more positive note I will resume my old hobbies i.e. reading books and writing my diary. The reflection provided in both activities is intense and meaningful. It gives you a nice perspective in life. I stay near a beach and the weather is lovely now as we have entered into the winter. I plan to regularly visit the beach for a change.
Over time I will build the stamina to achieve a lovely challenge my friend suggested to me – switch off your digital world completely for 1 day every week i.e. 24 hours at a stretch. Not an easy choice, right? We may want to argue that such a target is quite meaningless and a needless austerity. Am not sure about that, childhood was such fun when there was no digital world to take over my sense of life and reality.