What is your digital footprint and how do you tend to it? Are you an avid Facebook user or do you prefer Instagram? Do you try to keep up with the youngsters on Snapchat and TikTok? How about blogs you follow or YouTubers you keep up with, podcasts you listen to? Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, Nextdoor. I could go on and on and on. In fact, I Googled social networks and an article about the 65+ Social Networking Sites You Need to Know About came up and my mind almost blew a gasket. I can barely keep up with a handful let alone 65. Many I hadn’t heard of.
At the beginning of the year I decided to take a hard look at my online and electronics use. I wanted to lower the amount of time I was spending with my phone and that’s mostly because as I go through the world, I cannot help but notice how obsessed we are with our phones. How we take them out when there is a pause in our life: waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line at a store, waiting for someone to meet us for lunch or waiting until a movie starts or a tv show to begin, not wanting to waste a minute of our time with boredom or just sitting with ourselves. I am included in this group.
My first thought was to eliminate the distractions on my phone which are calling to me in that empty space of waiting. I can remove all the apps I want from my phone but if there’s another way to get at the info, I will likely find a work around like visiting Facebook on my web browser instead of the app. I asked myself what apps even bring value to my life, enhance my life. While I once enjoyed Facebook, it was no longer sparking JOY for me. So that was the first to go. Someone asked me how do I keep up with everyone and my answer is how did I do it before Facebook? Calling them, making plans to see them IRL, etc.
Next I went through the YouTubers I follow and I did a massive delete here. I now only follow people who align with my goals for 2020, people living simply and who are about family, health, faith and joy. I looked at who I follow on Instagram and podcasts I listen to and did the same. Positive, motivating and creative people who lift me up and drive me to do the same. I barely use Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn anymore so that is about as far as I needed to go to clean up my online “clutter”.
A big reason this is important to me right now is because I have a teenager who also recently got his own phone. I want to be a good role model for his life and when he sees me not picking up my phone all the time, he can feel free to do the same. He has always been a sponge and imitator and this is not something I want for him: to feel beholden to a small electronic box to fill in the discomfort of being with yourself. To use it as a means of escaping boredom and therefore missing out on the life in front of you. This is a work in progress.
So now when I’m waiting in the pauses of life (and they happen all the time), I look around. I look up. I see things that spark my interest that I may not have seen otherwise. Going for my phone was a habit and it took a bit to break it. It was also my habit to look something up whenever it occurred to me like who was in that movie or how old is so and so. Do I really need to know that and what are the chances I’ll retain it and use it on Jeopardy at a later date? Zero percent. The chances are 0%. And so now I remember to leave my phone in my handbag or in my pocket or even at home. How many years did we live without this constant companion and didn’t we live a fine life too?