On taking a digital break

Photo by Boba Jovanovic on Unsplash

What better time than the end of the year, and 2020 at that, to take a much need break from the digital world?

It all started with a conversation.

Last Thursday, Mine from @unapologetically.mine and I got on Instagram Live to chat about protecting our inner peace while using social media and being online in general. Our conversation inspired me to take a digital break.

Like, from Instagram.

The night before our conversation, I was up all night on Instagram’s explore page scrolling through memes and videos. I read and watched some seriously hilarious posts. I chuckled. I laughed out loud. I sent a bunch of memes to my husband.

It was past 2:00am when I finally decided to put my phone down. Then, I felt… wasted.

Instagram, like most social media platforms, is the junk-food of the digital world. Delicious, enjoyable, and satisfying, but the more you consume its contents, the less satisfied you feel. It’s a low-hanging joy. It’s easy. It’s full of crap. It’s instant gratification on crack.

I needed a break. Like, now.

Taking a break from our increasingly digitally-caffeinated world

After a long, seven years long to be exact, hiatus from Instagram, I got back on the app and I’m hooked on it like I never left.

There’s a very good reason Instagram is a multi-billion dollar social media platform.

It works.

Lil’ ol’ me is no match for an app developed by exceptionally smart people working diligently to get me scrolling indefinitely.

Instagram is extremely entertaining while requiring minimal effort. Swipe and tap. Thus, it is extremely difficult to strike a healthy balance of usage. I have tried mindfulness. I have tried not checking Instagram first thing in the morning. I have tried scheduling Instagram to later in the day. It work, but only so much.

When I need a real break, the only thing that works is abstinence. Whether it’s for a day, a weekend, or for years. To reset my system. Reset my attention. To be reminded of what it’s like to pay full attention.

To laugh really hard at the antics of my insanely ridiculous 2-year-old niece who is extremely hilarious because I’m paying her my full attention, and not half-heartedly chuckling while distracted looking at someone’s Instagram post. Someone I don’t even know.

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Dear, Self.

So, I’m taking a break from Instagram until the new year, a total of 14 days.

My iPad has been stowed away in a plastic bag, with heaps of tape. You got to do what you got to do sometimes. Again, I’m no match to the good people at Silicon Valley working relentlessly to hook me to their tech products.

I accept defeat. And, I take ridiculous actions to take a break from it all.

To step away.

I use SelfControl on my laptop, “an application for macOS that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click ‘Start.’ Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites—even if you restart your computer or delete the application.”

It works.

I spend less time online, naturally.

The Internet can be surprisingly boring without the insanely addictive social media platforms, where humans interact in real time. Maybe, we’re just addicted to people.

I enjoy the pause. My mind is less cluttered. I reach for a book with my morning coffee instead. I’ve been going on walks more. My sleep schedule is slightly better.

Most importantly, I do not miss Instagram’s explore page one bit.

Until next time… 🙂

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