In November 2017, I decided to rethink my relationship with Facebook. I was a very regular Facebook user back then. . . posting and like-ing and sharing pretty much every day. But I got disgusted. With myself . . . for spending so much mindless time scrolling. And with Facebook . . . for being Facebook.
I didn't completely let go of Facebook, but I did remove the app from my phone. I figured I didn't want to give it up completely -- but maybe I could get that scrolling habit under control if it wasn't available on my phone.
The first few days were hard. I got antsy . . . just wanting to scroll. But it only took a couple of days, and I found I wasn't missing Facebook at all! In fact, even though it was still available to use on my laptop, I just . . . lost interest.
And it was a simple decision for me to deactivate my account once the Cambridge Analytics story broke. (After a year, I reactivated because I thought I wanted to be part of a "group" -- but found I never even looked at it. So I've deactivated again.)
Anyway. I proved to myself that (1) I wasn't missing anything by not spending time on Facebook, and (2) it was easier to break that scrolling habit/addiction/tendency than I thought it would be.
Which may explain why this book appealed to me so much. . .
(This is how I read library books --- with post-it flags. The number of flags indicates how much this book resonated with me.) (I ended up with a 9-page Word document of notes I took with this book.)
This book is not . . . anti-technology. It does not bash smartphones. It does not recommend getting rid of all your apps.
It does, though, explain the obvious -- that "new technology" has changed our lives dramatically in the past decade. It explains some of the reasons why. It points out a few of the rather devious practices employed by social media companies to get us to use our smartphones even more. But mostly, it encourages us to examine our own technology use (and especially our smartphones) . . . to see how, exactly, we're using them. Where our time goes. And how to make our technology WORK FOR US.
The author, Cal Newport, recommends doing a 30-day "digital declutter." Nothing drastic or draconian -- just a 30-day break from "optional" technologies. And the first step is . . . to determine your own rules. You get to decide which of your technologies are "optional." Then, after the 30-days, you get to re-evaluate. Which of the "optional technologies" do you want to reintroduce for yourself -- and under what conditions or rules? (It's sort of like a digital version of the Whole 30 concept.)
I started my own "digital declutter" on April 1. My goal is to cut down on mindless scrolling (which still happens, of course, even without Facebook). Here are my rules and conditions for my 30-days:
- I removed the Instagram and Pinterest apps from my phone. (Although they are still on my laptop, I don't plan to access either for my "declutter" time.) (Yep. That means no Instagram or Pinterest for 30 days.)
- I have de-activated email on my phone. (I tend to constantly check my email on my phone, but I never reply unless I'm at my laptop.) (So why am I checking it on my phone????)
- I removed all news headline apps from my phone. (These are a great source of click-bait for me . . . and it never makes me happy.)
- I have blocked certain websites (from my phone and laptop) that just distract me mindlessly. (I'm looking at you Tom & Lorenzo.)
- I have set up my own rules for using Ravelry. While I can still use it for adding projects (should I finish any during the 30-day period) or to look up a pattern I already own, I will not allow myself to scroll through the "hot right now" patterns for 30 days.
I also set up my own rules for which apps I can still use. (Most of these are useful, not optional, or for whatever reason don't tempt me to keep scrolling.) (Banking, for example. My meditation app. The weather. Evernote. Goodreads.) Other not-optional activities for me: texting, calling, blogging, and listening to audiobooks.
(It's all very . . . intentional. Y'know???)
It's Day 3 of my "digital declutter." And I'm not missing a thing.
How about you? Have you ever thought about doing a "digital declutter?"