The Startup
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The Startup

It’s Good to Zone Out

I stopped filling every extra second with social media

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

You ever catch yourself just kind of staring off into space?

It’s a common occurrence right? Zoning out. Daydreaming. Wandering off down endless halls of mental doors.

Over the last few years, I had slowly stopped doing this.

Waiting for a game to load? Ah, I’ll check my phone. Waiting to go out to dinner with my family? Gotta get the latest tweets. Get stuck in the middle of writing a paragraph? Time to open a new tab and look through everyone’s Instagram posts.

What had started out from birth as nice little moments to wander in my thoughts turned slowly into a casual social media addiction.

My story is nothing new.

Apple implemented the ScreenTime feature exactly to give people like me a gentle nudge back into their quiet world of their brains.

Photo by Dil on Unsplash

As I switched back to an iOS device recently, I’ve seen those weekly reports, but I always rationalized the two-plus-hours-a-day I was regularly losing as “valuable social experiences”.

Sometimes they were. But most of the time?

I was deleting my brain’s idle time.

It turns out that idle silly nothing time was vital for my brain, my thought processes, and my general satisfaction. The platitudes, random internet advice, and YouTube videos were all right.

We often jokingly chastise each other for glazing over in the middle of other activities.

But since this is such a common human experience, it must surely have a good purpose behind it, right? Heck, I used to catch my cat Lance zoning out all the time just glaring right up at the ceiling.

Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

Before the endless onslaught of social media, when I was a high school student writing too many essays, I used to go on little “mind tours” to gather my thoughts for the next point I wanted to make.

Sometimes I’d stare out the window. Sometimes I’d pace around the house. Sometimes I’d just get lost in a piece of music I was listening to in the background.

Listening to music while writing doesn’t always work for me, but sometimes I like to have it there in case I need a break. But over the last year, (if I’m not reviewing a headphone), the music became more like different background music that’s just replacing the music already in the cafe.

I never spent time just idly listening. I never took a moment to get lost in it when I needed to gather my thoughts. Instead it was new tab Twitter Instagram Facebook.

Quitting idle social media viewing cold turkey recently and going back to the ol’ zone out stare produced dramatic results for me overnight.

Again, I know I’m not the first person to try this, and I know I won’t be the last.

Two hours a day is an extraordinary amount of time, especially for someone on a non-traditional work schedule like me. It’s enough time to get a few extra chores done. It’s enough time to play Resident Evil 6 for Halloween.

And it’s enough time to write some musings about spacing out.

Please give it a shot.

You don’t need to know what your friends are doing when they’re wasting their quality zone out time. Find a good spot on the wall and stare at it. Let your thoughts wander. Be mindful of your unmindfulness.

It’s delightful.



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Alex Rowe

Alex Rowe

I write independent game reviews and commentary. Please support me directly if you enjoy my work: