If you go back to the mid 1990’s (a time before the internet was as mainstream as it is now), you’ll realize that certain behaviors that we now take for granted didn’t exist (at least for the most part). An obvious example is checking our work emails when we get home in the evening, even though we’ve been sat in the office all day.
The idea of booting up the old ‘dial-up’ modem, waiting 5 minutes for our inbox to load up, AND paying an extortionate pay-per-minute fee just to check our work emails during our hard-earned (and limited) downtime would have seemed completely ludicrous. But now, we practice these behaviors every single day (even at weekends).
In fact, some employers have a tendency to email their employees late at night, and during the early hours of the morning, or even invite their staff to 24-hour Whatsapp groups. For someone who has other commitments outside of work such as a family or hobbies, this behavior can seem suffocating and force them to leave. So it is sustainable?
So much of our life has been transferred to the internet, and this includes our social lives, our entertainment and how we shop. As we all rush around trying to squeeze everything in to keep up with modern demands, we have lost a sense of reality. But the most dangerous part about this is the obsessive-compulsive tendencies that the internet brings out in us all.
We simply ‘must’ check that Facebook notification on our smartphone. But because we’re so tired from our unsustainable lifestyles, when the fridge is empty, we’ll order a pizza online instead, because we’re too tired to walk five minutes down the road to the shop. And then we’ll spend our limited time lifting weights at the gym to make us feel better.
But does that help?
And, when we do finally drag our lazy selves out of the house to go and see our friends, we’ll stare at our phones all night instead of having a frank and decent conversion, not to mention being desperate to put those photos up on Facebook. We’re creating and sharing a fake reality and buying into everybody else’s face reality.
Have we lost the plot?
It seems that in 2016, we no longer value our time, our freedom and our clear minds. We are slaves to the internet. Our lives are out of control. And then we wonder why after doing this for years and years, we begin to develop mental health problems and live in a permanent state of tiredness and fatigue, all because we just can’t say no.
So what do we do?
Firstly, we have to ask ourselves if we are happy living this way. Secondly, if we’re not, we have to admit to ourselves that something isn’t right. Thirdly, we have to take action. Something as simple as uninstalling all apps on my phone has changed my life massively. I no longer care about checking Facebook every five minutes.
Uninstalling your work email from your phone works, too. After all, you have no legal obligation to check those emails unless you have a major project coming up and you feel it’s needed every once in a while. They have banned this behavior in France! So clearly, someone sees the damage it’s doing to us and society as a whole.
Also, setting militant ‘shut-off’ times has really helped me. Once I have cooked dinner and sat down on the couch, my laptop goes off, and that is that. Obviously, there are times when I have to work a late evening, but this doesn’t happen very often. Also, how much time do you spend seeing your friends in real life versus chatting to them on Facebook?
There are thousands of people who have deleted Facebook because they realised they don’t need it, and the results have been positive. So if you’re feeling tired, fed up and you know something needs to change, but you don’t know what or how, don’t panic because you aren’t alone.
Start by uninstalling those apps and giving yourself a militant internet ‘shut-off’ program, and focus on doing more meaningful tasks such as seeing friends, eating healthy, reading, learning that language or instrument and getting involved in more sports. You’ll be surprised how your life changes, and, I can guarantee you won’t look back.
Originally published at medium.com