Ping! “You’ve got a message from Dalin.”
Ping! “Ik_39483 just liked your Instagram post.”
Ping! “A: hey, I have something to talk to you.”
Ping! “Your boss just sent you yet another email.”
Living in this world of constant notifications, one can feel very overwhelmed from time to time. It seems as if these apps are always watching your every move, tempting you to record your moments and share them to the world. You don’t have enough time to simply just “be”- just sit and enjoy your sunbathing, or just have a nice chat with friends without having the urge to post a selfie with them with the hashtag #frienshipgoal.
Not only that, sometimes you feel like you don’t have enough time to be with yourself. It seems like there are hundred of urgent issues waiting for you to act and God forbid something very bad might happen during that 10 minutes you don’t check your newsfeed!
This technology is supposed to make you stay connected, but you feel further and further apart from yourself. There’s just simply no time to reflect before the next email arrives.
If you feel like life is slipping by so fast on your screen and you’re just there, a passive fish in the grand river of life, I would suggest you to do these (as it worked for me):
- Live slower: yup. Take a deep breathe in right now and look around you. Notice the lights, and objects and even people around you. You might be in bed, cozying it up in your blankets, then just notice how the night air feels this particular day; or how the streetlight hits your glassy bedroom window. When you eat, try to really taste each morsel of the food instead of hurrying to fork it down your throat just to get it over with. You clean your dish very fast because you want to drink a cup of tea afterwards. But when you get to your cup of tea, you don’t drink it peacefully, no, you gulp it down just so you can get out of the house after. But when you’re on your motorbike, making your way among the streets, you don’t do it slowly and enjoy life. Instead, you go full speed with constant honking to get to your destination. I don’t really need to go on because this is a cycle. You are always hurrying this moment for the next moment thinking that you’ll enjoy it more. But when you arrive at that next moment, you will hurry it to get to the next next moment, thinking you will finally enjoy it more. This goes on and on and on until one day, death comes, the final of all moments and you realize you have wasted your entire life chasing death.
- Have a no-technology period: you can start by allotting certain times of the day to turn off all your notifications. Truth be told, most of the things you think need you urgently don’t really need you that urgently. If you can’t do the job, others can. For the sake of your own peace, turn the damn notifications off. If people could live by waiting for three months to get a notification (by the form of mails) before, then so can you! You can maybe make sure you turn off your devices by dinner time, or you can go a step further and organize a iSabbath day. On that day (maybe a Saturday or Sunday), you just turn your phone and wifi off. No internet, no device, just you and your life. You can stay at home, read a book, or lounge around, or you can grab your backpack and explore the city for the whole day, spend the afternoon in a random coffee shop where you can’t check in. OR you can go another step further and not having a smartphone altogether. I took that leap of faith and it was one of the best decisions I’ve done (read it here). It’s made my life more peaceful and less demanding, but of course, it depends on your life and what you need internet for. The bottom-line is you should have some regular off-line time for yourself and your own damn life.
- Go back to your island: it’s very tempting when the sun is out, you’re on your good hair day to snap a selfie and show yourself off. That’s fine, but when you constantly bombard your feed with 10 selfies a day and snapchatting every single activity you do in any given day, you might need to take a step back and ask yourself why the heck are you doing this? You know the need to share pieces of our lives on the internet is a very simple manifestation of the needs for social validation in the age of technology. (read the previous post of this series for how to deal with the need for social approval here). Breathe in and out. Imagine yourself as an island. You’re going back to your island, and honestly, the only validation you need is from yourself. I like spending an exuberant amount of time just imagining that island of self-contentment and honestly? It’s a much better way to spend time than it may seem.