In some ways, this blog is contradictory because I am going to be writing a blog online and sharing it across my website’s social media pages and it’s about society needing a digital detox, oops! But when I talk about digital detox, I’m not talking about giving it up for good. The aim of this blog is to simply make you a little bit more aware of your internet activity, think of ways of how we can have a more positive relationship with the internet and make sure we will have other fun hobbies and activities in our lives…shall we begin?
Do you remember the good old days as children where you would be outside playing tag with your friends? Going round to your best friend’s house to watch movies, listen to ‘Now’ cd’s and play dress up? I do. Some of my best childhood memories still stick in my memory today; from going on the school ski trip with all my friends, to camping and going to fun birthday parties. These memories were some of the best because we were all living in the moment, enjoying each other’s company and not worrying about what anyone thinks.
Flash forward to today, our lives are filled with “Did you see my status?”, “Did you see my wedding photos?”, along with: YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, FaceTime, Google and more – all day, everyday. Whilst the idea and concept of the internet and social media have good intensions and the fact that there are so many fantastic benefits to the internet, I personally think the use of internet is out of control and I don’t think it will ever end. Here’s why..
- When I leave my house and go for a walk, I have people almost bumping into me. They’re not looking where they’re going; their head is facing down into their phones and they haven’t looked up yet to see what they’re walking into – me.
- When I go out for dinner, I look around the dinner table and see young children under 5 years old glued to tablets. The parent’s aren’t speaking to their children and asking Who did you play with at nursery today Darling? Instead, the parents TOO are glued to their mobile phones; I can see their thumb scrolling at a rapid rate. They’re not asking each other How was work today Honey?
- When I go out with my friends to bars and clubs, I will be on the dance floor and I’ll see my friends dancing, with one hand in the air. Is this a new dance move I need to learn? No. It’s my friends on the dance floor, with one hand in their air, where they’re videoing themselves ‘having fun’.
- When I take my dog for a walk, I see other dog walkers and families with their babies in a pram, I get ready to say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Lovely weather today’, but I am left un-greeted and ignored. They’re walking their dogs and babies with one hand, whilst on their phone with the other.
- When I go to the gym to workout, I see people standing in front of the mirrors not working out, but instead taking selfies.
…My point is, no matter what time of day or what we’re doing, we can and do incorporate technology into our schedules.
We cover our internet platforms with hashtags such as #YOLO. But, how can we be ‘loving life’ and ‘enjoying the moment’, when our days now consist of making sure everyone else we could possibly know, knows what we’re doing? Why do they need to know what we’re doing? Why do we want them to know what we’re doing as we’re doing it? Are we competing for a portrayal of a perfect, fun and happy life because really, we’re miserable?
Is being on the internet in public considered rude?
I don’t know about you, nothing makes me more angry than socialising and seeing either the person I’m with on their phone, or people around me on their phones. To me, it is rude. You’ve invited me out for a drink, you’ve invited me to the cinema, yet we’ve not engaged in a conversation yet, because you’re too busy worrying about what other people are doing, so why exactly did you invite me to hang out? To me, people on their phones or tablets look like they’re extremely bored. What can we do to prevent this boredom?
Social Media and Mental Health
Not only are you offending people with your digital addiction, you’re also affecting your mental health. Over recent years, high uses of the internet and social media has been associated with anxiety, depression and insecurity. Did you know that the average person now spends at least 23 hours a week on the internet, that’s over 3 hours a day. If you knew the amount of hours you spent on the internet per week, per month, per year, would you be pleased with yourself? Or could you have actually accomplished something amazing with those hours? I for one, would not be pleased with myself if I knew the truth.
I have accepted the fact that I live in a digital addiction society and I agree that the internet and social media can be absolutely fantastic and that we should embrace the benefits offered to us. For instance, google answers all my unanswered questions, the internet means you lovely people can read my blogs! Facebook allows me to see photos of my loved ones and Wattsapp means that I can call and text my friends who live in Australia, America, Switzerland, Cyprus and it’s a great connection. However, I am always conscious of my use and make sure I am using it positively and proactively; not excessively. Because being social, can actually make us unsocial. For example:
- I choose not to have the Facebook app on my phone, I’m too lazy to log in via Safari so I go on it when I am on my laptop or ipad (which I don’t carry with me)
- I turned off the ‘last seen’ on Wattsapp and if I was able to, I would turn off when I’m ‘online’
- I never accept and end up deleting people who I don’t know/would never speak to in public anymore
- I block negative people and people who I dislike
- I choose a day (quite frequently) where I will not go on the internet at all and opt for a busy day filled with activities
- I deactivate my accounts when I can’t afford the distraction (studying). There’s so much to look at online that I find 5 minutes easily turns into an hour!
- I don’t share personal information online (Where I live etc)
- I don’t engage in political/controversial conversations online
- I make sure my phone isn’t out when I’m socialising
18 simple ways on how you can limit your digital use
Tell me this, what are your hobbies? “I’m really good at stalking my ex”, “I’m really good at photo-shopping my face and getting lots of likes”, “I’m a pro at filters”. If we’re not careful, these are the types of things we will be saying to our employers during interviews in the future! Before it’s too late, let’s investigate the ‘The Digital Detox’ concept, it is really simple. It is the reduction or elimination of digital technology in your life. Which sounds silly, but I know a lot of people who can’t even mange an hour without social media and the internet, let alone a whole day – God forbid. If you are one of those people trapped in the internet cycle, it’s time to wake up. Make a small and beneficial change with your digital use for the better.
- Don’t go on it in the mornings before you’ve even gotten out of bed. Try and go the whole day without the internet and then once your to-do list and hobbies for the day are complete, then go on the internet
- Exercise (try to do this without even telling people you’ve exercised)
- Keep your phone in your pocket when you’re out in public. You are out for dinner with who you arrived with, not your friend on Wattsapp
- When you’re in work, don’t go on social media. You’re supposed to be working. I personally think companies should ban social media use in the workplace anyway
- Physically speak and engage in a conversation with someone
- Do something productive to you with your time and life
- Read a book
- Watch a new series
- Watch a movie, without being on the internet at the same time
- Learn a language
- Learn to play an instrument
- Do some house chores
- Allow yourself a set amount of time on the internet, after that, do something else
- Tell yourself that after 9pm/10pm, it’s time to switch off devices
- Delete apps on your phone or tablet
- When you’re on holiday or a mini-break, try and go the whole time without updating every single person 2/3/4 times a day with what you’re doing there, go and enjoy yourself instead, you might actually have fun!
- Talk to the stranger next to you on the train, I bet they have something really interesting to say to you
- Deactivate your accounts in the run up to stressful deadlines and exams, put your whole efforts into what’s actually important and go back to the internet another day, it will all still be there!
There are lots of benefits to the internet, don’t get me wrong. I love listening to the latest music and watching funny videos on Youtube, I love writing my blogs and sharing them with as many people as possible and I enjoy seeing how my friends are getting on who live far away or abroad. But like almost everything, too much is bad for you. Make a positive change today and begin to limit your use of the internet, your mental health will thank you for it!
Useful Links – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/i/internet
Thanks for reading, please share your views on this topic in the comments section, whether it’s regarding your own experiences, your thoughts on children using the internet, whether the government is providing enough education on the internet and mental health and anything else!
© 2016 Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.