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Feeling Overwhelmed by Social Media?

Baskar Sundaram

The technological changes that have been happening over the past 20 years are astounding. From the Facebook ‘Like’ button to the live feed on Instagram, technological advancement has found its way into our daily lives. But what people fail to realise is how each ‘Like’ is more than a number. It turns into a notification which grabs our attention and then we are hooked. It becomes a gateway to be monitored. People are slowly realising the drawbacks of social media and many are opting for a minimalistic lifestyle. 

Here, we will discuss some ways to step away from social media and live a more rewarding and satisfying life:

Technology and Addiction

When phones and social media platforms were introduced, they were not meant to be addictive. The iPhone was a cooler version of an iPod with the added feature of making calls. Facebook was just an easier way to check on a friend’s friend. But as time went on, ‘social media engineers’ designed these online platforms in such a way that they become addictive. One great way to keep our attention is to take advantage of our need for social approval. Each time we post an image of ourselves, we constantly check our phones to see who many people liked and commented under the post.

Digital Minimalism 

Merely turning off notification will not solve the problem of social media. That is why Cal Newport, professor and author, put forth the idea of Digital Minimalism. This is based on Marie Kondo’s idea of only letting things into your life that bring joy. When you install an app or use a website or service ask yourself if it truly supports a purpose that nothing else can. You will begin to use technology in a way that will maximise its value without wasting time or energy.

Three Principles:

  1. “Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.”

If you want to stay updated then use only one app or website for it. There is no use for ten different apps that perform the same task. So think about the purpose of each technology.

  1.  “Digital minimalists believe that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only the first step. To truly extract its full potential benefit, it’s necessary to think carefully about how they’ll use the technology.”

Next time you install an app, ask yourself what you gain from it. How much time and attention will it cost you? Is there an alternative?

  1. “Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies. This source of satisfaction is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the biggest reasons that minimalism tends to be immensely meaningful to its practitioners.”

Whatever your intention is for using a particular piece of technology, it should support your values and satisfy the need.

Digital Declutter

If you are interested in digital minimalism, then you must start with a thirty day declutter where you remove every piece of technology that you do not need. During these thirty days, you need to introspect and think about what you value. Do something productive and fun in your free time. After thirty days, you can slowly reintroduce technology back into your life. Again ask yourself if you need this technology. Is there a better option? Finally, ask yourself how you can maximise benefits without losing time and energy.

Solitude

Try to reconnect with your thoughts and have some alone time away from the screen. Years before smartphones, solitude was something everyone experienced. It helped you to introspect, reflect, calm down and relax. With the ease of technology and over-dependence on our phones, it is quite unusual to be alone. 

Every time we try to keep our phones aside, we revert easily. So start small. Go for a small walk without your phone. No music or any screen of any kind. Let your thought wander and enjoy the peace of disconnecting even if it’s for a little while.

Other Ways to Connect

Take a step back from social media and even texting. Understand that no truly meaningful conversation can happen over a text or a social media comment. Once you step away from social media and develop social skills, you can easily connect with people. Humans want to connect and be social. But the more time we spend on social media, the more disconnected we feel. Call a friend. Visit friends. Schedule a time for calling in your work life. Meet with people regularly instead of emailing or texting.

Quality of Activities

Schedule activities to do daily. High-quality activities include physical activities, learning something new, fun hobbies, building something etc. Low-quality activities include spending time on the phone, social media etc. Always have something planned as it is easy to slide back into old habits. Intersperse low-quality activities throughout the day but focus more on the high-quality ones.

Digital Minimalism is a way to retain your attention in an attention-grabbing economy. You can delete social media completely if you choose to. You can also use the older versions of phone and laptops to be fully digital minimalist. So, the next time you think of logging into Facebook or even downloading an app, think twice or trice. 

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