It requires education, principled thinking, awareness and discipline to use the internet as a tool for development rather than a new way to waste time, alienate the mind and body, consume unnecessary stuff and become more indebted. These were the words of Adriana Labardini Inzunza, commissioner of Mexico’s Federal Institute of Telecommunications.
The accuracy of this statement cannot be overemphasized.
People have often said they saw me online but I did not reply to their chat or email or whatever form of information that was sent it in (immediately) – what they fail to realize is that for every time I am online; there’s a reason attached to it.
What this means is that I am offline to any other thing that does not support my productivity at that point in time.
It is a lack of digital principle that makes one notification turn into almost 3 hours of surfing the net. In some cases, it isn’t that a person isn’t busy, but that in the scale of priority, the level of energy required for maximum productivity has been compromised such that a person becomes ok with producing results and not excellent results.
This is evident in a lifestyle that is not guided by core values (and values in general). Core values are invisible boundaries that guide the purpose of an individual or organization. It is a person’s value structure that determines whether or not he submits an excellent product and or service.
So, therefore, when online, I am usually not online for activities that do not concern what took me online. This is extremely important because there’s a thin line between productivity and wasting time online.
It is important to remember that some things are important but not urgent, while some are urgent but not important. Again some are not important and not urgent, while some are important and urgent (as stated in Eisenhower’s URGENT/Important Principle).
It is upon this foundation that we can use the internet as a tool for development and not just whiling away time.
Remember that day you had a deadline to meet or something important to do- did you notice how the internet- a tool that can averagely become a distraction to you- became a tool that was properly managed by you.
The problem has never been the internet but our interpretation of its usage. It is therefore important for us to work on ourselves and not just on the distractions we think exist through the internet.
While we cannot guarantee that the internet will become a completely harmless place for our wellbeing- we can at the very least, guarantee that our wellbeing is protected as we use the internet.
Speaking from a place of personal experience; the internet became a place of escape in my days of misplaced priority- and like any addiction, we are eager to return to that place that makes us happy- howbeit temporarily.
So I did return- in my free time, work time and any other moment I could make out time. This wasn’t a healthy experience, and this is one of the reasons why I am extremely passionate about digital wellness advocacy.
For every time my phone or laptop batteries were down, I understood that I could live without the internet- but those were at moments when I didn’t have a choice.
You know you are digitally healthy when you have a choice and choose to manage your digital time to the benefit of your development and wellbeing and subsequently that of others.
I believe as Bob Reich, professor of political science at Stanford University said, that the massive and undeniable benefits of digital life- access to knowledge and culture- have been mostly realized, the harm, however, have begun to come into view just over the past few years, and the trend line is moving consistently in a negative direction.
To tilt the narrative into a balanced conversation, we must as Adriana said, begin to educate ourselves, build principled thinking, awareness, and discipline to better be productive with our time online.
It cost money in all countries and currencies to be online and so we must strive to ensure that what we do online can in some way generate back the money and time we’re investing in it.
I believe very strongly in balance in every area of life.
The idea in this article is not to delete our social lives or ignore friendship and leisure within the internet community, but rather to define the reasons why we are online and then work accordingly.
All work without play makes Jack a dull boy, but all play without work makes him a poor boy.