Since August, I have taken a total of six online classes, in addition to the daily exercise routine, reading books, and homework. I kept this regimen by limiting screen time, albeit more successfully in the first three weeks, as I recently spiraled back through the internet rabbit hole. And so, after a small relapse, I’m reviewing rehab.
It’s the perfect time for Netflix to release “The Social Dilemma” when I get my hours offline back. In the documentary, former technology executives explained how their digital platforms not only exploited users, but also fostered addiction, affecting well-being, politics, and even the wave of conspiracy theories in the mainstream; while dramatizations characterized mental health problems and the dangers of the echo chamber within a fictitious family. Watching the movie was the boost I needed for my digital detox.
Here are the steps I took to curb my online addiction, some of which I started in August and others since I saw the documentary.
• Limit news sources to 2-3 media organizations. Given the daily torrent of government nonsense that angers people, it’s easy to get carried away by the online fury. But I started to wonder if my tweets and posts make it better. There are people out there whose voices deserve to be amplified. To prevent the information attack and the party bubble, I limited my news to two media organizations. I check your website instead of your social media accounts so it has the full context, not just the attractive headlines. In case of breaking news, I head to TwitterMoment’s Philippines news list for a real-time update. I check them out in the morning and at the end of the day because in the end I’m still a news addict.
Disadvantage: so far none. You can still stay up to date on what’s happening in the country and around the world, but not in real time.
• Routine and tasks are written in pencil. Schedule your routine on the calendar, no matter how apparent the tasks. This includes online classes, exercises, reading books, writing a diary, and tasks such as cleaning electric fans, watering plants, or bathing your dog. Viewing a list of your pending tasks prevents you from rewarding yourself with the hedonism that time on the internet entails.
Disadvantage: none as long as a reasonable margin of play and short breaks are allowed. Your routine doesn’t have to be rigorous.
• Disable most application notifications, including messaging platforms. I silenced all my chat topics except my family’s exclusive ones. It gives me a headache to think about the different messaging platforms that are on my phone, multiplied by threads of conversations that are on them, in addition to direct messages from my social networks. Instead, I set aside time to check and reply to messages. Therefore, I cannot expect an immediate response from them. For school and work related communications, establish ground rules by limiting them to designated hours. He resists the sense of urgency and learns to respect the work-life balance of all.
For other applications, bank notifications are always enabled, as are e-commerce ones, but only when I expect a delivery. It’s important to strike a balance, especially for apps that need to alert you in the event of fraud or attempted hacking; otherwise, switching to an email alert can be a good compromise.
Disadvantage: doing so can cost relationships, another social dilemma. Explain to friends why you are “out” without being saints. If we weren’t in a pandemic, this could be offset by going out to eat, drink coffee and have drinks. Meanwhile, you can also schedule phone calls and Zoom hangouts.
• Delete your Facebook application. I check my feed, though rarely, through the desktop. My account is still active because many companies offer customer support through their Facebook accounts, and most friends share important news via their feed (I understand; it’s efficient that way). As a compromise, check the basic privacy settings regularly and this applies to other applications as well.
Disadvantage: I could be late or completely miss important announcements, including the deaths of friends and acquaintances, which unfortunately happened to me.
• Install an ad blocker and cookie manager in your browser. Digital privacy is widely discussed in “The Social Dilemma,” but unless you have a basic understanding of how digital marketing works, for example, cost per click, it can be difficult to get an idea of how our personal data is exposed. to advertisers. A visual background on the operation of HTTP cookies could have done a better job of establishing the basics – and elegantly – rather than the digital avatar dramatization of the film, which was hyper-functionalized, even cheesy. So go ahead and read what cookies are and how to regain control by blocking, deleting and allowing cookies to be selected.
Disadvantage: Installing these extensions can affect the performance of some websites.
• Limit game apps to just two. I have more on the phone (in case I’m offline or my lives are running out), but for many months now I’ve only been playing Candy Crush. I think other games are as intrusive and stressful as the ones you randomly face off against other players. But games are good for when you’re waiting in line or on public transportation. (A fun but educational alternative would be the podcast).
The Center for Human Technology, whose co-founder, Tristan Harris, is featured in the Netflix documentary, lists other useful tips and resources on its website (www.humanetech.com/take-control).
Setting up systems on iOS and Android, and ironically, additional apps, controls the time you spend on your phone and laptop, including a breakdown of each app, and allows you to set boundaries, even for your kids. However, they are easy to avoid, so here are a few extra steps to help you create a balanced online habit.