The more one learns about the attention economy and its psychological and social consequences, quitting social media or switching to a flip phone seems the most obvious course of action. And we should all consider getting off social media and making phone calls important again.
That’d be the easiest part, anyway.
The hardest part is finding reasons to be offline.
Being offline is often romanticized by the hopelessly tech junkie, dreaming of better days spent unplugged from the digital noise, strolling through a beautiful nature trail, and most days spent with a good book, and conversations filled with laughter.
The honest-to-god’s truth is, even if you do all those things, the offline world can be pretty boring. Especially until your dopamine receptors adapt to a slower, quieter and even more mundane offline living. It takes a lot more effort than what you read online to get accustomed to and enjoy life on the other side of Mark Zuckerberg’s digital playground. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
The good news is it’s yet another new year and all the lies and failures of last year are behind us.
Make 2022 the year of finding good reasons to be offline.
There are the usual contenders: read a book instead, go for a walk- demons hate fresh air, make art, and maybe call your aunt. These are all quality options worth the effort, and more rewarding than 99% of the Internet.
I also moved my daily journaling habit from an online journal to a notebook. Almost a year, and two notebooks later, it beats the Internet first thing in the morning. I try to cook more often without a looking up a recipe. My cooking is improving, and I can now look at ingredients and figure out a decent meal- Google search not required. Thank you, brain.
Lately, I do dishes by hand. Not by choice; our dishwasher wasn’t doing a satisfactory job. There is something truly relaxing and calming about hand washing dishes. Glass half-full, when life gives you lemon, etc., etc., etc. It’s the perfect balance of mindless and mindful. I’ve gotten the process down to a science: fill sink, cups first, plates second, soak cutlery in the meantime then wash, then pots, pans, and similar big dishes last. Wipe down sink, done. It’s also very nostalgic for me since I’ve lived most of my life without a dishwasher, and it brings up old memories of family, roommates, and friends.
The dishwasher is the best drying rack ever invented.
Life- whether you spend it online or offline- is pretty boring and filled with mostly mundane and routine activities. There is no magic on the other side of Google’s search bar; it’s just good ol’ every day living, but you will have more time than you can imagine when you log off. Instead of looking for magic, will the mundane into magic.
Find more reasons to be social offline.
Once you quit social media, the world quits you. It’s just the cost of business. That doesn’t mean people don’t exist anymore. In typical millennial fashion, I am constantly anxious, slightly anti-social, and quite passive when it comes to socializing. My brain is primed for excellence in scrolling feeds, and mediocrity when confronted with face-to-face conversations. I try not to let that get me down. Going offline can be pretty lonely and isolating so that keeps me motivated to stay as social as possible in the real world.
First lesson I learned was to never, ever, ever turn down (almost) any invitation to spend time with people. Even if you think it will be the most tedious and boring thing ever, just do it. Spending time around real people in real time is always better than what’s on Instagram’s explore page; Maybe not as fun, entertaining or stimulating, but better.
Now that’s out of the way, find reasons to leave the house. Find reasons to hang out with people. Find reasons to be around people. Check out local bands, local acts, local shows. Invite someone to try a new restaurant. Take dance lessons. Cook for your friends or family. Join a fitness class. Join a band.
If it all fails, wash your dishes by hand.
Until next time,
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