Every time I put pen to paper, it would seem as if God has planned to stop me from putting my thoughts down in writing.
In this age of high-tech gadgets and hyper connectivity, it always seems like there is something that demands for my attention or so I thought! But here I am today, finally talking about my experience of embracing the “digital minimalism” advocated by Prof Cal Newport of Georgetown University.
Just for a bit of context and background; one of my 2022 goals was to take control of my digital life. Before, like most of my friends, I could stay on for hours on social media apps and entertainment sites, chatting and browsing without getting any real stuff done.
In simple terms, I was addicted and it really affected my concentration level and academic grades suffered for it. On 1st of January 2022, I deleted all my social media apps and disconnected from the entire internet.
Now talking from the perspective of someone who has stop using social media for some weeks, I beg to ask the question that has been nagging me for a while now! How do you use your smartphone? Not just phones but everything related to technological products and social media.
I believe am correct if I say that we are the privilege ones, our generation is the first to have grown up with the power of the internet in our daily lives. The tremendous powers of the internet to effect positive change has been widely discussed and research upon that I don’t want to go into details. In fact, I am a beneficiary of leveraging on the internet to improve my social impact, work and to learn. However, just like there is a positive side, there is also the not-so-good side.
Everyday online, we see numerous advice on how we should live or the amazing things we’re missing out on social media updates and that has fueled the notion that once we’re in our mid 20s, we should have arrived, make mama proud or “make it” in the Nigeria parlance.
That when the bubble burst, that the so-called friends we admired and look to be like online are just merely selecting the good sides of their life’s and posting on social media, creating a fantasy that we chased after and a reality TV we fought to play in. All in the bid to escape boredom, people turn to their phones. Just enter any location, it everywhere, even during religious services, lectures period, on a bus or the worst of all in a meeting we are still glue to it. It almost like an automation how people have become attached to their phones, that we often failed to listen to friends standing in front of us physically, just because we want to reply someone virtually. What do we called that? We need to sometimes embrace boredom; laugh.
Before, I finally decided to shut down my social media accounts, I was almost at a breaking point. The pathological need to constantly curate my life experience on social media, “posting about what I eat, what I wear or where I go to”, get to a point that I was almost losing touch with reality. And you know in reality, you can’t just slap a pretty filter on your real life or conditions. To say that I was losing touch with my human side was an understatement, it get to a point that said to myself “ I used to be human”.
The problem continued until one of my teacher and mentor introduced a book to me about “digital minimalism and how to avoid distractions”. Using the knowledge gained from the reading, it has really improved the way I use my phone and other electronic gadgets. I now maintain a rigorous “no distraction policy”, while still connecting with my friends in more meaningful ways. Now I feel more happy, my focus and learning ability had increase and I feel much more connected to my community ever than before.
Hence! I like to invite those who feel powerless or helpless when it comes to how they use their phones to join what the American author called the “digital resistance movement”. It okay to join the attention resistance by leaving your phones and all it distracting attributes for a period in a day, it can be an hour or two. Then use this free period to deeply contemplate or if you like meditate on what is important to you, your values and life goals. Just make sure you get something real done to move you forward.
Finally, pray along with me as I continue with my digital resistance practice. To your success! Cheers.