Recently, I took one-week no internet challenge. No Internet for a week, no emails, no social media, nothing. I’m usually a hardcore internet user. On a bad day I spend more time on it than off, am stuck in a haze of heedless web-based social networking looking over, poring over boring Facebook posts from people I don’t know, distracted by email links from mailing lists I never signed up for and rotating between online magazines, time-killing youtube, Instagram, Quora, social interaction notifications, Twitter and so forth. I realized that I was chained to the digital world.
So, I tried taking a break from it when I knew that it’s affecting my productivity and health by altering my sleeping patterns. I promised not to sneak a peek on my phone and computer for a week. My college’s end- term examinations ended this week and hence it was the perfect time to take up this challenge; time to cut-off myself from the social media and the Internet.
The first thing that struck me after a day of abstention wasn’t so much what I lost, but what I gained. Time.So much time. Not taking my phone into the bedroom with me was giving me at least two hours extra a day. I never thought that I had this much time before and would usually blame my engineering curriculum.
I made a daily schedule and tried maintaining a diary to which at the end of the day writing down of what I achieved and what not.
Two days in and miraculously I was far more productive; I could do something that would normally take me a whole day in an hour of uninterrupted focus. Consequently, I felt a lot better about myself.
It took four days before I got itchy trigger fingers. I was watching an IPL match on TV and felt an overpowering urge to share my thoughts on it with my friends on WhatsApp, but I resisted. The next morning I woke up with a craving to check in with the online world: the news, the papers, the facebook, the twitter.
What I began to realize was how many times I fool myself about why I’m picking my phone up: to check the time, to check emails, to discover something particular. In reality, these are just gateway excuses for me to jump into the dull cycle of internet use. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that I would pick my phone up or sit down at my computer to find one thing out, and an hour later would have completely forgotten what that thing was. Before I would tell myself- “Hey let me take a break and check out some notifications”. Hours later I would still be checking notifications or laughing on some stupid youtube channel, or engrossed tweeting on some not so necessary twitter threads.
But, now it was different. I started reading books and watching television again – things I hadn’t done in months. I started to have long, involved chats with neighboring friends. Most importantly I became very very aware of my surroundings -the green leaves of plants, the pleasant blowing wind, and the blue sky. Everything seemed so real and I looked at them and thought that where I have been before, why didn’t I noticed this earlier.
By the start of the sixth day what had become very clear is how over-stimulated I had become when I was using the internet.
I’d got through the week without going online but I’m not sure how it would have worked over a much longer period of time. By the end, I didn’t want to log back on; I genuinely wanted to break the chain. I want to enjoy the nature, the family-friend chats, hanging out outside and everything I couldn’t do before.
But as a student, it’s virtually impossible to go without internet for a significant period of time. Not only do you miss out on social events, but your work suffers too. However, I’d also recommend logging off occasionally; even if just for a day or two. It will help for sure.
When you realize that internet is nothing more than an addiction..it’s a hard habit to break; but when you break the addiction, life is so much fun.
So all I want to say through this post is that use internet wisely, no doubt it is essential but don’t let it empower your mind and body.
For me, I will surely figure out a way to maintain an equilibrium with life on the internet and outside it, because I really want to enjoy both of them.
Peace and have a nice weekend!