Following my my enlightenment (Social Dilemma – see yesterday’s post) I have been very mindful of my screen time, what I click on and even hesitate over while scrolling. What I am noticing is a bit disconcerting.
Just like with any other addiction I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms. And, while unlike the purging of nicotine from my body, I won’t ever be one hundred percent screen free; however, I must be in control of what, when and how that screen time enters my brain.
One of the things I have noticed is that I am sleepy during the day. It isn’t physical tiredness; it is my brain. My hypothesis is that without the stimulus of games or the ever-flowing stream of images from Pinterest or Instagram my brain doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. Never have I been the kind of person who gets bored. Even as a teen I always found a way to entertain myself. Now, without the stimulus of the screen I find myself sitting and wondering what to do next. All the activities that used to satisfy me suddenly hold little to no interest. I feel confident that the desire will return, it is just that my brain has to figure out how to function without this artificial stimulus again. My three step plan is in effect: Evaluate, Extract, Eliminate.
You’ve Got Mail
Who can resist that intoxicating little message? Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks connecting via a chat room in the early days of the internet. Anticipation. Delight. Disappointment. A full range of emotions follow them as they check their inbox for a message. Movies and television are full of examples: Ralphie waiting for his decoder ring in A Christmas Story; Charlie Brown opening the mailbox hoping for a Valentine or Christmas card. Most of us love the anticipation of receiving something in the mail. It means that someone took the time to think of us. We have value. This little fact of human nature was not lost on Mr. Bezos when he created Amazon. But how can we maintain excitement over mail when all we ever find is junk mail and bills? I find that is what my email has become. So, why be disappointed and overwhelmed by things that hold no value or meaning to me?
I am overwhelmed and feel out of control by the sheer volume of accounts, emails, and personas I have created. I cannot blame big tech for this problem. This is all Sheryl. Step one is to evaluate what I have, what I really need and what I can eliminate and not regret.
I have five email addresses. A personal account and four “business” accounts. I am not actively in any one of those businesses. I don’t know if I ever will need them again, so I don’t want to give them up quite yet. As of last night I had a combined 2,947 emails unopened between all the accounts. It has gotten easier to just ignore them than try to stay ahead of them. I deleted them all. It took a while, but they are gone. This morning my initial screen time was spent unsubscribing from lists and deleting the messages that arrived overnight. This will become my morning routine until I am only receiving what I really want to receive and read. Once that is done I will evaluate the addresses themselves and keep visible only that which I use regularly and feel I can control.
I must say writing all this down, knowing it will be read by people who know me makes me feel like a weak link in the chain of humanity. The illusion is that I am alone in this problem, that somehow I am lesser of a person because I struggle with addiction and emotional issues. That’s the thing. It is so easy to become isolated and believe that we are alone. I am not alone. You are not alone. We have been seduced and drawn into a very intricate web. Be aware and take charge. You’ve got this! See you tomorrow for Keep It Simple Stupid day four.