I deleted all of my personal social media profiles and kept them deactivated for over 4 weeks. Having experienced such digital detox before, it wasn’t hard to detach myself from the countless minutes of pointless scrolling through the curated feed of 90% untrue personal stories. Little did I know, this would change my lifestyle.
DIGITAL MINIMALISM BY CALL NEWPORT
Although my main drive was not the effect the book had, it helped a little. Digital Minimalism is Newport’s second brilliant book on optimising your online presence and activities. After going through Deep Work (will dedicate a whole post on it), Digital Minimalism was the second logical book to read. And it paid off.
A recent report by Hootsuite stated that the total amount of global internet users are over 4 billion, having 53% internet penetration, from 7.593 billion population and 55% urbanisation. The active social media users are numbering 3.196 billion, and the unique mobile users – 5.135 billion. This makes up for 68% penetration, doubling the amount of mobile users from two years ago.
What’s the main reason people go on the internet?
If 15 years ago people were going online to gather information about something, or spend a few minutes chatting with their friends on ICQ, today everything is compelled into a few smartphones apps. And it’s a habit, not a need. And from what I can conclude, having analysed my behaviour – a bad one, that has the potential to deviate into a self-destructive behaviour.
The need to stay informed
When I say informed, I don’t mean being up to date with the latest news and events. Staying informed has evolved into an understated voyeurism where it’s normal for people to send friend requests to individuals they don’t know, or have chatted once in high school, 10 years ago. And obsess over them. Compare themselves to them. Lust after the curated feed the others have and create a sense of codependency. It is deviancy the world now doesn’t recognise as problematic, when it should.
I don’t want to be someone else, but I don’t know who I am
Digital voyeurism has turned into a standard. Following someone on social media, consuming his day-to-day activities and sharings, is a voyeurism on its own. Being allured by the lifestyle people have, or their charming personalities, can transform into a factor that defines one’s sense of self-worth. The unconscious comparison, envious feelings and desire to own somebody else’s lifestyle – that being their relationship with their partner, or their financial capabilities, hides the potential to blow into a solid depression. Because you’re not the people you follow, and your life is not their life.
Being someone who likes to analyze and measure things, I’ve decided to start monitoring my own behaviour. I took the step to ensure I track my phone and laptop activities, and I only used these devices, including while I was at work. I’ve listed the things that I knew were not doing any good for my productivity, or happiness. And tried to avoid them.
MY DISCOVERY SHOCKED ME
I was no longer able to concentrate for longer than 30 minutes. Watching a movie at home without having my phone in my hands was impossible. My attention span shrunk from fairly okay-ish, to non-existent. I couldn’t focus on doing a single task for extended periods of time. I couldn’t sustain this “in the zone” focus that enabled me to crush in tons of tasks into only a few hours a day. I couldn’t deliver anymore, and that affected both my work performance and personal life. I had to change something, and it was so painfully obvious I couldn’t make anymore excuses.
I quit social media for 30 days
My job requires me to be online at all times. There’s no chance of me going without an internet connection for longer than the few hours I spend sleeping. I have to watch what’s happening while I learn, research, plan and schedule content calendars. This, however, doesn’t affect me as being online in my “me-time” does. From mindless scrolling through Facebook posts of people I don’t really keep in touch with anymore, to hours spent on YouTube on videos that don’t really aid much of my knowledge or skills – I had to cut it all.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still on Twitter. Actually, you can follow my Changetelligence account, where I share only social media and marketing-related articles and opinions only. What I got rid off was my personal twitter account that only resulted in me spending too much time arguing with people I don’t really have anything in common with. So I deleted it. Only by removing that single account, I’ve noticed my laptop performance (I track what I do) jumped from as low as 40% productivity score to 89% on average. Before I deactivated my personal Twitter account, I spent on average 45 minutes daily, which messed with my productivity pulse since I’ve labelled the site “Very Distracting”. Even if I accomplished my important tasks and threw a few more done, that activity lowered the overall productivity score. And that alone was a clear sign I really don’t need that activity in my life. It wasn’t hard to do it. And that led to what’s next.
Yep, that’s what happened next. Facebook profile – deactivated. I kept my Messenger active, so i can talk to a bunch of people that prefer Messenger over any other texting application. No kitten photos. No long posts about celebrities and people I don’t really know. No need to react to news I’m not interested in, nor I’m involved. That lifted a huge stone off my chest. It did, however, lead to multiple people asking the same question repeatedly: “Have they have blocked you?” Nope, just chose to not be a part of it for a while. Digital detox, or freeing some time to focus on things that matter more.
Both my personal profile and my first-ever Instagram account that went through its own journey got deactivated first. Then I discovered Instagram has this rule you can only deactivate your profile once per week, for a week-period only. Which was not an option for me, so I left the platform, since it forces me back to a place I’m not ready to be a part of yet (again). So I freed more of my time from pointless and endless scrolling of photos of people that we all know are not real. They’re there, but the reality behind the photo is different. This affected me in a way I didn’t really think of – the automatic comparison between yourself and the carefully curated photos. The feeling of not being enough, or not having accomplished enough – gone.
- My productivity pulse jumped and sustained an average high of 70% on a weekday.
- I’ve read 20 books for about 2 months and a half, whereas I used to read 20 for about 6 months. I’ll include a few nonfiction books I found fantastic, so you can check them out too in a future post. Stay tuned for that one coming.
- I finished 3 video games from start to finish. That alone is an accomplishment, having considered that I could not concentrate for extended periods of time.
- I’ve redesigned my website, so it’s sleeker, faster, and easier to navigate.
- I’ve certified myself so I can prove I’m worthy of my clients’ trust.
- I went through a digital and real life declutter. No junk – no drama.
- I’m back on Facebook. On average, I spend only 15 minutes a day browsing the application, and about 25 minutes responding to text messages or engaging in group conversations on Messenger.
- I didn’t reactivate my Twitter and I don’t intend to. At least not for the upcoming months.
Nothing’s mandatory on the internet. Unless you want it to.