If there is one thing I am most thankful for for being invented, it has to be the Internet. I am lucky enough to have lived a childhood with no Internet, then dial up, then DSL; this is enough for me to be appreciative of the connectivity we have now. However, as with any development, too much can be, well, too much. In the age of the always-connected life, multiple social network apps, and several instant messaging platforms, one's focus is greatly affected. That vibrate, that ding, that notification pop. I won't even talk about how people are shamelessly phubbing each other. (New word: phubbing - the act of snubbing someone in front of you in favor of your phone. Seriously, they needed to come up with a word for this.)
I've recently been reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, and it hit close to home when he discussed about social networks. It's true, being always connected on social media doesn't exactly translate to connecting with people. It made me stop and think, why am I there? What's my purpose for sharing my thoughts, rants, photos, what I ate, where I am? I didn't find a substantial answer. Regardless of this fact, however, on most days I check my phone (and apps) several times a day, both when I have that red notification that someone added a comment or liked my photos, or even when I'm just bored.
Last month, I vowed to make my phone time (while in transit, or while waiting, or just when I pick up my phone) a wee bit more productive. I told myself, I'll browse for inspiration / design ideas on Pinterest instead of checking Facebook carelessly. Or maybe read something worthwhile, learn something new, or write a blog post. Well...I didn't. Wow, self. Such discipline. And so I've decided to uninstall the app.
The first morning was very refreshing and different. With the force of habit, I reached for my phone, my eyes not yet fully opened. I peeked and checked my notifications. It was almost super clean. Oh, I uninstalled Facebook last night, I remembered. Going about my day, I was anticipating I'll get annoyed that I can't check something on Facebook, or get bored and not have to browse anything. The Messenger app is now on mute, home screen notifications for other social network apps also disabled. While at my desk, working, I'll glance over my phone once in a while but see nothing, so I just continued with what I was doing.
I've been on this for twenty something days now, and I've been encouraging friends to do the same. Aside from having less audible, mental, psychological distractions, we have more time to actually connect with people. In person. If you have read this far, maybe you're thinking about it too, but feel like you're not familiar with the disconnected normal way of living.
My two cents on your 'five-minute social network breaks': You don't need to read about another post about baby, #blessed, engagement, rant, gym-day, travel, food, prenup, fake news, political agenda, anniversary, humble brag, or selfie-captioned-with-some-deep-quote of every member of someone's social circle.
Think about it--
- How many people actually cared to remember when your birthday is, and not wait for a social networking site to remind them to greet you?
- If something important happening to somebody important to you (or vice versa--you're important to that person), that person will tell you about it first hand; you don't have to just pick it up from your feed.
- Most importantly, if you're the kind who shares a lot on the platforms: Why do you do it?
Instead of the fake connectivity you think you're making by browsing, reading, liking and commenting on some 600+ posts in a day, maybe rationalizing "it's just a way to destress from work, or get some me-time while the kids take a nap," use that Internet connection to read an article about self-development:
- Download an ebook regarding your niche and read that before you sleep or stuck in traffic.
- Get a productivity app and write down your ideas, tasks, and steps to achieve your short-term goals.
- If you're into tangible crafts, pin items on your Pinterest board for future reference and design inspiration.
- Enough reading Buzzfeed or Elite Daily and move to the likes of Medium.
- Are you planning to advertise or start an online business? Read about e-commerce, social media marketing, and putting up a website.
- Putting up a brick and mortar store? Research on best practices regarding the niche you're trying to get into. What steps do you take to get started? How do you register your business? Where can you source suppliers?
- Watch a TED talk.
Do I miss reading about what other people think we should give a fuck about? No.
I've never felt more in control of my online usage than I do now. I've also logged my Facebook off my browser so that I'm forced to log in (username and password) if I need to find certain information, most recently supplier pages. I've cleaned up my Twitter "following" so that I curate a feed that is informative, inspiring, and motivating. While I wish I can deactivate my Facebook account, I'm keeping it for now for business purposes.
So, thank you, Internet. You're still the best and my most favorite technological advancement to date.**
**When used in moderation.