Consume less, create more


#1

I miss my childhood years.

Every time I picture my life without the internet, I miss my own, indeed, very romanticized but still very real childhood:
Reading a full novel a day or reading in bed every night until I almost fell asleep. Daydreaming vividly and engaging in sensational day to day monologues about my life, setting goals. Valuing small incidents stronger than I do now. I remember boredom, lying on the couch with my legs dangling over the armrest doing nothing in particular but then jumping up with an idea for a picture, a movie or a poem.

I had a lot of time back then. I didn’t have it solely because I wasn’t busy with school work - I didn’t have any work either, in the past few months. I had so much time because I was not constantly distracted by the internet.

I remember borrowing the Sims 2 from a friend as soon as I got my very own laptop. I played it all day long, 8 hours in one sitting. It was much more fun than anything; it was much more fun than the real world. After a while, I associated the Sims game with being uncomfortable: Aching body, wanting to stretch but too tired to move, tired eyes that would dream up a 2D world as soon as I went to bed. After a year or so, the craze had ended.

But it really went downhill when a friend introduced me to boybands, tumblr and manga. In my teen years, 13-15 most likely, I spent the majority of each day on my phone, scrolling, reading, watching, “fangirling”. And because this happened on the internet, it also redirected me to hacks, comedy, vines, beauty tips, drama, shocking content, etc. Things that didn’t interested me but things I watched nevertheless.

I’m 19 and it got much better in the past two years. I focused on school, friends and my creativity. I got awesome grades, made memories and created stories and musical pieces.

I still feel very prone and vulnerable to the addictive qualities of social media, maybe about as much as anyone is. I feel uncomfortable thinking about a day without my phone, I catch myself seeking attention on reddit, craving news and controversy on websites or in the comment section; and sometimes I’m even scrolling down Instagram videos for beauty or cooking tips I’ll never use.

It’s my free time that is affected. I get my things done, but as soon as there is too much free time, I’ll use it up online, without me intending to do so. Officially speaking, I don’t have it under control.

If I’m forced to think about this, in the context of this journal, I am certain I’ll get to reflect on it more. It’s only when my brain “shuts down to automatic” that I’m online. I need to live more deliberately. To control what and how much I consume. To keep it at a minimum. And to spend more time creating and living.

I know that you can’t get your childhood feelings back. Your brain is different now, few things are new to you, nothing is as exciting.

But to reduce stimulus means to be more open to and to seek out low-stimulus activities: Nature, reading, thinking, daydreaming, …

I want to live simpler as I do now. I don’t want to miss out on the day to day magic of life.


#2

This was very poetic. I’m feeling pretty nostalgic about my childhood now. Reading was my favorite thing to do as a kid. Waiting in line to get the new Harry Potter book and then racing home to read it at night.

It all went downhill when I started playing video games and then got my first laptop.

Things are looking better now though. Im feeling some of what I had as a kid slowly start to return. The other day I was reading something and read for hours. I didn’t notice it was almost 1030 pm and missed dinner. It made me really excited because that’s how reading was like when I was a kid. I was just lost in my world and wouldn’t notice the ebb and flow of time around me.

I’m looking forward to reading your journal and seeing your progress. Wishing you the best Saskia. :slightly_smiling_face:


#3

I’m not checking reddit this evening

Normally, I would. It’s the only social website I use and I love to engage in discussions or to understand a topic better through a committed community. Notifications pile up each day and I’m usually looking forward to reading them.

Today though, I’m not feeling it. Going on reddit always means scrolling down the starting page. It means I’ll invest my time and emotional energy in something just not as real as reality. I don’t feel like doing this to me tonight.

Earlier, I’ve written down my thoughts on living “simply” and “intentionally”, on no surf and on mental well-being during a long train drive. I’m motivated to keep my internet usage low. I feel like I’m gaining clarity.

It’s like an itch I’m ignoring; aching fingers for my phone, eyes seeking a red notification number.
Not this night.


#4

Thank you very much. I’m happy I got to remind you of those childhood years.

Awesome that you’ve managed to change your life this way. Reading this evokes hope. What did you read?


#5

I was reading Be My Guest, the autobiography of Conrad Hilton. However since I committed to know more educational/learning type material for the month of October I decided to put it aside for now though I really enjoyed it.

I’m now reading The Counte of Monte Cristo.


#6

I didn’t have time to use social media the past few days.

For four days, I haven’t been on Reddit or Instagram. I have watched about three educational YouTube videos that I would choose to watch again.

My days were completely packed. My first semester at university began and I’m moving into my own small apartment at the end of this week. Last night, crashing at my own apartment with no furniture, I felt terribly homesick, painted grim prophecies of my time here and dreaded hating my own space. I visited the evening event and came back ecstatic, hopeful, optimistic and inspired.

My time here will be ups and downs. And that’s fine. Growing pains pave the road where I am now and where I want to be. I will just have to be especially mindful about how I use the internet. I tend to use it as an antidote to negative emotions, i.e. anxieties, homesickness, feelings of emptiness or isolation.

I’d just like to summarize what factors will influence my online habits in the future. Added to it are rules and advice I’ll revisit whenever needed.

The first two and a half weeks I’ll have no internet connection except at university. I’m going to view this as my official social media “detox” to set my mind up for the time ahead.

As soon as I got easier access to the internet again, I’ll have to be mindful to keep healthy habits. It will be fine if I spend some time on the internet, as long as it will be less than before.

Allowed:

  • Check YouTube (condition: not more than once a day)
  • Text friends and family
  • Nosurf and YOU
  • Internet breaks on reddit (condition: after the work for the day is done, not later than 10pm)

Don’t:

  • Use the internet as a way to avoid fear of failure or responsibility
  • Use the internet as a way to escape negative emotions

Do:

  • Check in with your journal (insecurities and anxieties)
  • Meditate (gain the quality of viewing your feelings objectively)
  • Prioritize mental well-being and take care of yourself (homesickness)
  • Re-read “Consolations of Philosophy” whenever needed (to gain clarity and a new mindset regarding difficulties)

#7

I moved in today and I enjoy the simplicity of no internet at home.

I don’t have a lot of music on my phone. I have one Alan Watts speech and a few songs. So I rediscovered the radio today.

This would be a nice shift:

Less reading the news on my phone, but listening to it on the radio and reading it from the newspaper.

Less speeches and lectures (never none!) but also room for more books.

Less eating while watching a show but eating with a magazine; which is nice because you have to pause reading every time you take a bite.

No YouTube or Spotify playlists. They’re almost pure evil. Because I can skip and choose from ANY song on the internet, I’m never really happy with what I’m hearing.

Just turning on the radio and listening to songs from beginning to finish. Being incredibly happy for a song that directly fits my taste. That is much more joyful.

I also like the fact that I am writing this on Word but not on the No Surf website.
It all is more intentional and one by one.


#8

I enjoy the simplicity of no internet at home.

Yep, I did the no internet at home thing for a while and I really do miss it. Internet and Tech Addicts Annoymous recommends that we create “safe spaces” where we have no access to our digital vices.

Currently, I settle for turning off my computer and phone at least 1 hour before bed and it creates a kind of safe space for me where that I know I can’t mess up. It’s really soothing.


#9

This would be good to implement. Right now, I’m turning my internet off on my phone every time I stop using it. After ideally a few hours, I will turn it on again, answer all of my messages and turn it off. Using it deliberately. Instead of answering a message any time it comes in.


#10

It’s good to hide it too once you’ve made the commitment to not use it again for a few hours or more. I wrote something up about this a while ago. You might find the information in this document useful. It’s the procedure I use to keep my phone and computer off at night even when I struggle to fall asleep and start to crave it.


#11

The first time I went home, after 5 days of no internet, I spent a good amount of my Saturday on social media. The second weekend was very similar; I stayed up too late being on my phone. This is the reality: Once I got in a situation with less access to the internet, I ‘binge’ on it as soon as I can.

My own home has an internet connection by now. I wish to use it in a functional way: Starting my computer with an intention. I might use an extension to block certain websites. Whenever I get on my computer/phone to look something up, I end up on a social media platform. It is an automated habit, I don’t even think about it - so I’ll have to try and break it.

My goal is to view my ‘mindless scrolling’ habit like I view my past with the Sims: I could now log into it and play, but this would waste more than 1-2 hours of my day for an experience that is not fully satisfying and never gratifying – there are many better things to do.

I also greyscaled my phone again. It really does suck to look on a grey screen.

In my last entry I wrote a bit about homesickness, expecting that I would use the internet much more as a result to this.
As it turned out: I missed the internet more than my home.
Yes, it will take some time until I feel homely again but restarting anew in a new space will help me with my journey, so I believe. A new space makes it easier to create new habits. I’ll frame this as a fresh new start.

In the following weeks, I’ll have too much work to do to be on the internet a lot. It has luckily never affected my productivity. It is just the fact that my leisure time is restricted by my internet usage. I want to indulge in my hobbies more, whenever there is less to do, whenever I have a break. I want to create more. And consume less.


#12

Hey Saskia, hows your social life at university? I’m just curious because if a few months ago I would have advised on implementing a more “bulletproof” system but now I’m curious about other factors in people’s lives too that might be contributing to internet overuse. Particularly the tendency to “binge” immediately after getting access to the internet again (i’ve experienced it too).


#13

Even better than expected: Interesting people, interesting clubs (like a writing club and Amnesty International groups), the beginning of friendships. I’ll estimate that I’m more social than during the past year.

I think social life can have a great effect on social media use though. I would spend most of my time online when I actually wanted social interaction. This has most heavily affected me during the long school breaks when I wouldn’t frequently meet up with friends. I would go on YouTube, Reddit or Facebook to substitute for interaction; when it was really bad I chatted to strangers on Omegle and kik.


#14

Some time ago, I’ve lost motivation to continue. When I thought about greyscaling my phone again or blocking social media on my laptop, I was thinking to myself “Ugh, what a pain. Do I really need to do this?” I wasn’t binging very badly but it was far from ideal.

This isn’t the only reason I was not updating my journal; I was quite tied up with work. Altogether, I’m happy with my productivity. It’s a lot to do here at university. I am not too happy about my internet usage.

Motivated by upcoming work, and by wanting to have more free time, I deleted two major social media apps off my phone. Now, every time I take up my phone, I seem to have nothing to do on there. I can no longer mindlessly scroll Instagram or Amino; and my phone usage plummeted.
I’m using my phone not at all in the mornings. I tend to read a book instead of using my phone before going to bed.

I was using it a bit too much in the last few days: I’ve watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody and tend to be a bit crazy about Queen right now. Being a fan of something really was the first reason I used the internet at the age of 13. It’s a rabbit hole, even more so with fandoms because you are emotionally invested.

But the general trends seems to be a positive one, as of now.