“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about the real purpose in your life. You will be surprised how many of the things you own have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go gratefully, you can really fix the things you own and your life. To really appreciate the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have survived their purpose. "
When Marie Kondo published her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she accidentally introduced a new term into our cultural encyclopedia:
"Is it fun?"
These four words became the basis from which thousands of us went home, asking ourselves the same question for every conceivable item that we could pick up.
Cleaning up possessions made me feel lighter and, oddly, more control over my life. I realize how much emotional transmission we bring into our environment and what things fill it. It was wonderful to see how so many people consciously make decisions about what their outer environment should look like and be involved to promote a better inner environment.
The psychological and spiritual benefits of cleaning up have been discussed extensively, and I particularly enjoyed this piece of CNN Health. As more and more people moved to take part in the magic, another phenomenon slowly crept in.
If you don't vacate your entire house and showcase your new laundry folding skills on Instagram, are you still #SparkingJoy?
I am as much a fool for being drawn into a social media loop as anyone else, but I couldn't help feeling like a point due to the escalating influx of photos and stories that appear in my feeds how much everyone shows up was overlooked was "spark of joy". I don't have to tell you how harmful it can be to put everything we do in life in the neat squares and captions of social media. So many people have spoken about the social media as performance lifestyle, which adversely affects their emotional and mental health.
I previously took a break from the digital scene with detoxification between one week and one month, with wonderful benefits. But you and I both know to completely give up digital life? That will not happen.
The digital world is such an important part of our lives. Now that we are within our own four walls through social distancing and quarantine practices, digital is one of the key ways that most of us stay connected (and healthy!). The movement to digitally deliver more of our lives has taken on a whole new pace. It took less than 6 days to create an app that my school wanted to develop to help students study at home – unlike pre-pandemic quotes that recommended that it would take 6 to 8 months.
How do we protect ourselves in the midst of this new, demanding digital scene from the falls that are connected to social media and spend too much time online?
I am still intensely concerned with digital minimalism. As a freelancer with remote customers around the world, I have found that optimizing how, where and when I spend time online is key to ensuring that I am as productive, proactive and healthy as possible.
Like many of us, I'm turning to social media as a distraction. It's not uncommon for me to be in an Instagram scroll for 10 minutes before I realize what I'm doing. It has become a reflex action that you have to hesitate (I have done it at least three times when I wrote this piece). Since I've been trying to improve my online time while spending time online, I've applied concepts of digital minimalism to my use of social media. Now I'm starting to spend more time at home with just my dog to keep me company. It is becoming increasingly important for me to ensure that I consume content that makes sense in every little way and that I do not consume excessively.
Here are five tiny methods that help:
1. Ask yourself why and why you are turning to a media role
Is it a distraction? Deferment? Curiosity? Connection?
There is no wrong reason to turn to scrolling, but there is definitely a hierarchy that includes the healthiest.
It was really difficult to catch myself every time I lift my phone, but it was worth it. Instead of clicking directly to Instagram or Facebook now without a real goal in mind, I take a moment to pause and think about why I picked up the phone. If there is hesitation – great! Let's look at some motivational reports from people I admire. Bored? Fine! Let's use this moment to learn something new (no matter how small).
2. Watch your emotional reactions as you scroll
I went through a phase in which I followed account for account following people who did cool things or lived in beautiful places or lived a lifestyle that I admired. And you know what? It only filled my accounts with a lot of beautiful pictures, but not with a lot of substance.
These wonderful "conscious closet" accounts are fantastic, but I will never be able to justify spending $ 300 on a t-shirt (especially now they all have to admit they are "gifted" for promotional purposes). I have made peace with my own ethical practices. Although these reports are beautiful, I no longer need the guilt that I often feel when I see their feeds.
Take a moment to really look at the different accounts you are currently following. Do they add pure added value or make you feel like you are failing in some way? I do not advocate avoiding difficult or challenging feelings, and it is helpful to be reminded of how we could live life a little friendlier or more consciously – but not at the expense of feeling bad about the efforts we are already doing. If things keep popping up that don't add value, it may be time to remove them.
3. Read and deal with subtitles
If you read the captions that are delivered with our image-heavy platforms, you will get an insight into the thinking and search methods of the poster.
Sometimes this speaks to you and in turn motivates a connection. This is really one of the deep joys of social media. By reading and grappling with the writing, I was able to make some nice international online friendships that have gone from simple Instagram comments to emails and share books with each other. This is the real miracle of online connectivity, but you can only find it if you engage sensibly.
Sometimes reading subtitles doesn't connect with you. If this happens repeatedly, this is another indication of why that person is taking up space in your digital world.
4. Don't follow accounts that trigger negative emotions
One step from point 2 here is to unravel / unfriend someone who simply makes you feel bad.
I've never been a supporter, ex-partner, or ex-boyfriend, but I've been painfully alerted to how some people stick to these relationships, and one of the ways they do this is through social media connections.
Your digital spaces are yours and yours alone. They should exist to add value and help you grow the way you need or want – or they are just for fun and full of kitten pictures. What they shouldn't be is a room full of people or accounts where you don't feel like you're in control or creating positive value.
5. Confirm when to stop
It can be too easy to get stuck in an unhelpful, exhausting, or simply wasteful loop on social media. Trust me. I know.
Knowing when to stop is critical to get the most out of these interactions online. You can choose to set a time limit or set deliberate goals before you start scrolling. For example, you can choose to just check the accounts of your top five friends to see what they're up to and see if there is anything you need to do to contact them offline. Or you decide that you need inspiration and just look at creative accounts to inspire you. Once you've achieved your goal, you know it's time to stop.
It is also important to know when to take a full break.
Every now and then I take at least a month off from all social media. I started in 2018 and am now aiming for at least three sessions throughout the year.
In the ongoing pandemic of COIVD-19, I really had to dig deep and listen to my internal compass when it came to what I was consuming. The urge to get the latest news every morning is great, but I can feel that everything is getting a little too much. Knowing that I can say no for even a few hours is a great reward.
We turn to the digital to make our lives easier and make it responsible for how we feel about it. anxious, stressed, sick.
Let us not forget that our online and digital spaces are completely harmless. You can only make us feel when we use it.
About the author: Elaine is a pedagogue and freelance writer and currently lives in Tasmania. She is passionate about how we learn from our experiences to become more authentic versions of ourselves. Find them at coffeeandbooks.co.