A digital Age
We live in a Digital Age. We are constantly connected to the Internet. We are reachable 24/7 and we manage our lives using phones and computers. We are able to connect with people thousands of miles away and we can share a mutual appreciation for last Friday’s barbeque foto montage on Facebook. We try to identify ourselves with the perfect girl on Instagram and we feel pain when we see those images of forest fires and animal abuse. Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years there is no denying the fact that we definitely upgraded from analog to digital. I have doubts though. Doubts about whether or not this upgrade is also an improvement. I love technology don’t get me wrong. I have been fascinated by the potential a computer has and I can hardly phantom the possibilities in the future with the rise of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computers. There are huge advantages when we add technologies to aid us in our daily lives. It actually saves lives but there is a pitfall. When we start to replace parts of our lives with digital products we might actually replace parts that make us human and substitute the real social experience for likes on Facebook. There is another danger lurking in the shadows. Choking a whole generation to what seems to me like a certain death albeit a slow one.
This danger in the shadows is addiction. There are many addictions that lie there waiting. Beckoning us. Trying to seduce us. We are weak when we are not on top of our game. Today I want to dive a little bit deeper into the Smartphone addiction and yes It is a real addiction. I am certain of that. I first started noticing changes around 7 years ago when I was out and about clubbing in some fancy place. I started noticing people preoccupied with what was happening on that little screen of their Smartphones. They didn’t seem bothered with dancing and socializing. They were there only in the body but definitely not in spirit. It was a shame really. It took away all the fun for me and I kinda just quit going out to clubs altogether. It seemed apparent to me that there was a new addiction on the block and this one was here to stay. At birthday celebrations entire families lined up with their phones. Only once or twice looking away from their screens to locate that last block of cheese on the table. Once a part of a complex social ritual. Eating together. Sharing together. Now nothing but an oldfashioned relic from an almost-forgotten age. How the fuck did this happen? Did I get this old so quickly? Then I started noticing something. I was doing the same bloody thing. Spending more and more time on my phone then I was looking at the beautiful world around me. This Smartphone is a Smart Drug. It gets you hooked and you don’t even know it.
Minimalism as a cure
In 2019 I have become obsessed with Self-Improvement. I have always been involved in learning, growing and understanding the nature of things and the nature of us. I was seeking answers to make sense of all of this. This strange life we live in. My passion for personal development has motivated me to read books and watching YouTube videos as my mentor. In 2020 I decided to assign different challenges to each month and every challenge involves some kind of way or habit that will improve your life. In January this challenge was Minimalism. I decluttered my home. I got rid of unimportant stuff. 20 bags full of em. It felt great. It gave me clarity beyond anything I had ever experienced before. I feel more focussed and my actions and day to day planning make sense now. There is a structure in my life with clear goals and dreams I want to accomplish.
The Removing of Things in Your Life
Removing all those things from your life suddenly gives a strange feeling of peace. Almost a euphoria. It sneaks up on you and strikes you at an unexpected moment. It is as if the space that was created in the house equals the space and brightness in my head. I no longer wish to come up with items that do not directly contribute to a happy life. No more distractions. Down with the old. Get rid of the stuff we never do anything with. Instead, focus on the activities and things that generate money, create health, embrace love and promote mental health. When I was finished with my home I noticed there was still one thing in my life that gave a lot of anxiety. Can you guess what that was? I bet you can. It is that phone. I just spend money on a new one. A flashy Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. Not just the normal version. No, bloody Plus edition. Plus it doesn’t fit in your pockets. What was I thinking! This was the end of the line for me. I had to minimize my time on my phone. I had to get rid of my Social Media addiction. Looking on that screen every 10 minutes. Checking messages and looking for likes in all the wrong places. So I just did it. I turned off all notifications. I removed most of my Social apps to a dark corner hidden in the same dubious folder on my Plus-sized phone with one exception. Whatsapp. I use that to tell my fiance twice a day that I love her to the Moon and back. I know. It might be cheesy but I fucking love it. It feels good to care for others.
These days my phone spends the most time outside my reach. Outside of my needy little hands constantly looking for validation. Gone are the days of hours wasted doing absolutely zero productive things on my phone. I now have 80% more time in a day. Time to meditate. Time to appreciate nature and go on walks. Time to write blogs and think about my future endeavors. I have time to better manage my life and my tasks. I have time to grow but most importantly I have time for others. The quiet moments where you can no longer hide from conversations by hiding your face behind your phone. These precious moments. I have them back now and I love them. I love hugging my significant other and just talk for hours. I love going on walks together and share thoughts on or dreams and desires. These real moments are so important. They are what give color to life. Not Instagram. Not Facebook. They were never meant to replace real experiences. They were meant to improve the quality of our lives. Not destroy it. You were supposed to bring balance to the Force Anakin. I haven’t slept with a Smartphone next to my bed for weeks now. I have said Farewell to the need for validation by cheap replacements for real human experiences and it feels great. I feel empowered and motivated to get the other aspects of my life sorted out too. When you start changing these habits. When you take these different steps from what you were used to. These are the changes that affect your entire life and in time it will affect those around you in a positive way.
Stop using your Smartphone to avoid real life. You don’t need to constantly seek validation through Social Media. The world will not seize to exist when you don’t show your Face on Facebook ten times a day. Read a book instead. Our phone distracts us way too much and it puts constant pressure on us. People start to expect and demand from you that you immediately answer your phone and send a text message. Once you make yourself scarce in the Social Media domain you start to make yourself and your time valuable. This new way which was always the old way will force us to get together and socialize in a real meaningful manner. Not with superficial likes but as part of this greater community where we share laughs and hugs and we help each other.
Put away your phone. Put on your shoes. Open your door and visit your friend.