Living Without The Internet is a New Luxury
It is for the brave and not for those who suffer from FOMO and need constant validation.
Disengaging, living offline, deleting social media accounts has now become an act of courage and class. Many on the Internet are advocating for living offline and thinking that it is way too cool than living online all the time. It is a message that ‘I’ve other things to do’ and ‘my time is more precious than yours’.
I came across #scrollfreeseptember on Twitter. Ironically, people were tweeting with a hashtag to tell themselves that they should not be scrolling for hours.
The fear of missing out is holding us back and living offline in 2018 is absurd and equal to losing your identity.
Thus, we compulsively refresh our Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Emails first thing in the morning.
A majority is feeling helpless that they can’t afford to switch off the Internet and scrap their online profiles, including me.
Only the privileged can afford to live offline, not everyone. Things which are holding us back are work and our contacts. But that justifies a fraction of our time spent on the Internet.
The other things include the compulsion to click pictures of our food, parties, travels, and selfies so that we can upload them on social media. The compulsion to share moments from our life as stories to stay relevant in our social circle. And the time spent in finding out what’s important for us in the ocean of news feed and notifications.
It is time-consuming. It is eating up our time that we could spend with family and actual friends or sleeping or doing things that matter. It is also shaping our culture globally.
Millions are doing it in the name of ‘Online Presence Building 101’, I do that too.
Facebook has dumbed down human emotions to six emojis.
Thanks to that, now we care about more causes and we react to more people than we actually need to. No doubt why ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k’ is such a hit.
“Man, all these happy beautiful people…
I’m not that good looking and I’m not that happy, so I must suck” that’s how Instagram makes us feel, said Elon Musk in his interview with Joe Rogan.
No doubt these technologies and platforms made our lives easier, but we have no idea if our measuring scale for progress is correct.
As Yuval Noah Harari puts it “Agriculture is history’s biggest fraud”, we may say that for the Internet too someday.
It’s impossible for most of us to live offline because of three reasons
- The Internet is our business. People connect with people on the Internet, not in networking events or on the roads.
- Our investment in form of connections/friends, tweets, blogs, photos, portfolios, websites etc. are too important for us to let go.
- Leaving the Internet means losing our identity.
All that is true. But it doesn’t mean that we need to entertain the noise.
Here is how you can make your life better
No doubt, some people are choosing to live offline and many will make it a lifestyle soon. But now is not for us.
Leaving the Internet is hard, but it is partially attainable. Not everyone will be able to pull this off, so if you are worried ‘what if everyone starts doing that, the internet will become a dead place’, NO. It will be too late before everyone feels the need to reduce their online time and go offline.
Here are the things that I did to experience the new luxurious life. They are easy to try but requires self-control.
1. Bring all your conversations to one place (maybe two)
Conversations are important. Unarguably the top reason why we use the Internet in the first place.
Depending on what you prefer, redirect all the conversations from your various social media channels to one or two apps (work and personal). All you need to do is put up your contact details on the important places and mention explicitly that how others should contact you. That automatically filters the important messages, those who need you will take an extra step.
For example, your email is for work and call is for personal/urgent things only. You can now ignore the rest of your inboxes for weeks.
2. Report spam and unsubscribe — Organise your emails
You can’t get rid of your emails. But you can get rid of the unwanted subscriptions, notifications, promotions, and spam. There are many inbuilt features that you can use to make email efficient.
- Report spam and unsubscribe (a lot of them). You don’t need five thousand emails in your inbox.
- Divide your mailbox into two segments: Important and Everything else.
- Use labels to identify work, personal, reading list, pending etc. These simple tweaks get a lot of things done.
3. Turn off all the notifications
What percentage of the notifications that you receive leads you to something important?
Opt-out of push notifications from every mobile application and website. We always fear that we will lose something important, trust the conversation channels that you just streamlined. Anything that is too urgent will come at you on a call, not in a LinkedIn or YouTube notification.
Turning off the push notifications is the only way we can take control over our Internet usage. Notifications are enemy of the decade.
4. Give yourself write-only access to your social media
There is no such setting on any social media. It is about self-control.
Deleting social media accounts is not the solution for us, but a few self-imposed egoistic restrictions can fix a lot of problems.
You don’t need to scroll through any of your social media. But you can keep posting your stuff. You may use HootSuite or similar tools to schedule your posts and entirely ignore what others are posting.
This is not easy and it sounds a little devious. But it works. You may scroll once a week to see what others are/were talking about, but there is no need to check your feed every hour.
5. No Mobile in the early morning
There is one more version of it ‘no screens before going to sleep’. And that doesn’t work for me, I like to write late in the night but you may try that too.
But not checking your mobile phone in the morning is doable. I’m not asking you to hold on till the lunch time, but maybe till the breakfast.
Checking on emails and notifications from various apps early in the morning affects our creative mind. Once we let external information pollute our thoughts it is almost impossible to benefits from the good night’s sleep.
6. No Internet weekends
I try not to open my laptop on weekends. It is hard and results in failed attempts most of the time.
Pulling off a day without mobile, laptop, and internet feels like a victory. Your sleep, your thoughts, and your mood, everything will be just fine that day.
It helps to declutter your mind to think about things that you’d have ignored otherwise.
7. Number of apps on your phone
How many apps do you keep on your mobile phone?
The average number of apps on a phone in the US is 35. People launch 9 apps every day on an average and use 30 apps in a month.
The so call productivity tools and handy apps are not so effective as they claim. A serious effort to reduce the number of apps on your phone will reduce the number of unnecessary decision that you make every day. The fewer apps we have the more specific things we do on our mobile phone.
8. Take control over your mobile charging routine
You own your mobile phone, it doesn’t own you.
That means you should decide when it gets it’s charging. Not every time it shows a battery-low warning. This sounds silly, but it gives us peace of mind. And with time, instead of having your phone save battery, you start saving the phone’s battery so that it doesn’t die before it’s time to charge it back again.