There it is again. That feeling of dread. Or anxiety. That feeling of a burn out that doesn’t want to go away. Like there’s a hole in my chest that I can’t fill. I can’t quite describe it. It comes when I’m not distracted. When I’m alone with my thoughts. And it lingers unless I push it out of my mind with prayer.
I was fine during my digital declutter. But as soon as it ended, it came back slowly. Whenever I think about what to write next, I get overwhelmed. And I can’t explain it. I’m making my online activities a scapegoat here, but I have no other explanation for it. The only thing that significantly changed for me this week, was me coming off my digital declutter.
And so I’m going into digital declutter mode indefinitely. I’ll probably keep posting entries to this journal. But I’m going dark on the rest of my blogs and websites. I don’t know when this new digital declutter will end. Maybe it will become my new normal. Maybe not. Either way, I once again need a break from all the stuff I do online.
I know I said I'm going dark on the rest of my blogs. But I might make an exception for my music blog.
Before we get to the new set of rules, here are some notes on the additions and changes I've made for this new version.
I'm allowing the use of Facebook Messenger
This is the main app that my friends and I use to communicate with each other. I don't see a need to cut myself off from my friends this time around.
I'm allowing the use of Safari and Feedly
One of my goals in this second digital declutter is to catch up on my readings of articles and blog posts. I have so many open tabs of articles and posts I want to read in Safari right now, it is not even funny. So, I'm allowing the use of Safari this time around to help me get through all those tabs. That also means catching up on my unread items in Feedly.
Not allowing Micro.blog and Sunlit apps
I signed up for a Micro.blog account just last month. Great service. I love what they are doing for blogging and personal websites. I use the official Micro.blog app and the accompanying Sunlit app on my phone. However, I will not be using those apps during this digital declutter to see what effect they have on me.
Walking is increasingly mediated by technological gadgets worn on wrists or gripped in hands. We spend an increasing amount of time ‘screening’ the world – taking in most of life through a contracted frame that captures objects of immediate interest. To live with eyes on the screen is to be attached, stuck in the frame, taking in what is presented to us and re-presented to us again. But representation – even in fine-grained pixilation – is not experience. To experience is to perceive. When we look at a screen, we might see something, but we don’t perceive. To live life through representations is to live passively, to receive rather than to experience.
I am so grateful that I discovered the IndieWeb. Owning my content and posting my thoughts on my own site instead of a silo like Twitter gives me real freedom. I can decide how my thoughts are displayed (I like to make them available to everyone without advertising), I can edit them and they stay available for as long as I want.
This experiment is all about trying to reduce my smartphone usage at home with the use of an Apple Watch. Yes, I know it sounds ironic — trying to reduce usage of one gadget, with the use of another gadget. But let me try to explain where I'm coming from.
One of the best things about working from home, is being able to eat with my kids at the dinner table. When I'm working from home though, I'm always worried about time that I spend away from my desk. What if my boss wants me to join a call? What if I was supposed to join a meeting? This is why I've resorted to carrying my phone around whenever I'm eating with my kids, or helping Coney out with Baby Caleb.
Carrying my phone around the house has renewed my itch to use it. Like when I'm at the dinner table, or by the bathroom door while potty training Davin, or when I'm carrying Baby Caleb around to give Coney a breather. It's all too easy to just pull it out and fire up the Feedly, Micro.blog or DuckDuckGo app. As you can see, it is not ideal to have my phone with me around the house. Also, how I am supposed to tell Davin to not bring his iPad to the dinner table, when I'm always bringing my phone around for lunch?
I encourage you to be conscious of the fact that the electronic/digital world is not really a natural world. It might be becoming our new norm, especially in the current pandemic. But we should always make a point to step away from these unnatural options.
Instead, take a hike, view the night sky, listen to live music, breathe the fresh air.
This was a good read. And to his point, I never even thought about that. How much time do we spend at night browsing or living on the internet? I'm guilty of this too, what with the multiple blogs and websites that I try to keep up with at night. The time we spend at nights living on the internet, means time spent not living in the natural world. Something to think about that.
Reason #2: filtering out information takes effort.
Contrary to common sense, ignoring things is not a passive mental process.
Researchers have found that it takes energy to ignore irrelevant stimuli.
In other words, ignoring something still takes a toll on your mental stamina. Think of it this way, we wake up in the morning and our mental stamina bar is at 100% full. If you have to go through the day trying to ignore irrelevant stimuli, your mental stamina bar will probably be down to 50% by lunchtime. By the time you go home, it may be down to 10%. Then you end up just getting fast food because you can't think of anything else better to eat. And you crash down on your sofa to binge-watch Netflix, because your brain is too tired to do something else.
I find myself craving silence more and more. I don't listen to Spotify on the way to work some days and I stopped listening to podcasts a couple years ago. I realized that when I listened to podcasts, I wasn't relaxed. It was just too much talking going on in a world where people don't know when to shut up. Again, I say assault on my senses, because that's the way it truly feels to me. It's like my brain has reached a limit on how much intake it can take on any single day.
– From The Quiet by Brandon's Journal
Cal Newport mentioned something similar in his books. Like when people take a break and go out for a walk or run. Most people I see put their earphones on. So, they're most likely listening to music or podcasts. I used to do the same thing. I was taking a break from what I was doing, but my mind was still draped in distraction. Whether that be from the music or podcast I'm listening to, my mind is not allowed a moment of rest. The point being, our brains could use a break too.
Again, I reference back to a blog post I made a few weeks ago about being Disconnected and I wonder if I need to scale back even more.
– From The Quiet by Brandon's Journal
Not sure if you've read them already. But based on what I'm reading in your posts, I think you would enjoy reading Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism and Deep Work books.
When I say notebooks, I don't mean those lightweight laptops that the tech industry calls notebook. I mean real paper notebooks. These paper notebooks are distraction free.
If you've been following this online journal, you probably already know that I keep a Bullet Journal. I mean I only ever mention it every other post or so. I also have a Work Journal. I also have a number of Field Notes notebooks lying around. I use these Field Notes notebooks in a variety of ways. One is a Food Journal. Another is Baby Caleb's milk, temperature, wet/dirty diaper, health tracker. Another is a backup satellite Bullet Journal. Another is a catch-all notebook for whatever needs to be written down.
Cal in his post, shares a wonderful essay about a professional sport climber who ditched social media and improved her career. Both posts, from Cal and Madison are really good reads. Be sure to check out the comments too, especially on Cal's post.
It was then that Madison’s athletic career moved to the next level. “There’s nobody I’m here to perform for,” she writes. “I just train and silently work on achieving my own definition of success.”
That quote above made me reconsider keeping my blog “public”. By that I mean having my posts show up on the read.write.as feed. I sometimes feel that I'm performing for someone when my posts show up on the read.write.as feed. Like I'm in a competition, trying to keep up with everyone else.
I have been playing around with are.na for the past week or so, trying to figure out how to make use of it. I've seen it mentioned in one of CJ Eller's posts, From Blog to Blocks. I'm still slowly finding a use for it, but while I'm not ready to share how I am using it just yet, I did find a “channel” that seems to be a great “digital minimalism” resource. This channel contains links to a number of articles related to reducing smart phone use, eliminating distractions, better ways to use social media, etc...