Scroll No More – Days 16 – 25

When I started this, I thought slip ups would be less frequent towards the end of this detox. You know what’s coming – I was wrong. In the last ten days I found myself gravitating back towards Facebook and Instagram. Without getting to deep into psychoanalyzing myself, I think this is what’s happening:

(A) I have FOMO (fear of missing out for those of you not fluent in millennial internet lingo). My FOMO manifests itself in being afraid of missing major announcements of my social media friends (pregnancies, moves, new jobs, new pets, engagements, etc. This fear is of course, as are most fears, quite irrational. If someone really needs and/or wants to keep me posted (no pun intended), they will use a direct line of communication.

(B) I think I’ve learned what I wanted to learn from this experiment and I’m ready for it to be over. I’ve learned which parts of social media bring joy and/or value to my life and which parts are just plain distracting and useless, which is what all the intentional living hype is all about for me.  It’s not about giving away everything you own, going off the grid, or quitting your job to pursue your “real passion”. It’s about making the most out of each day, each moment, about celebrating average things and seeing their extraordinary components. When I learn something new, I’m always eager to apply it and that’s why I want to be done with this. Calling it quits early would also be an option but that would kind of go against the self-discipline component of this exercise. Hence, I’m going to hang in there for five more days and then unleash my better and more intentional self with a vengeance.  Image result for fomo

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Scroll No More – Days 6 – 15

You guys! I’m halfway through this experiment/challenge/rehab/self-prescribed time-out/ digital cleanse and I only had a few tiny relapses. I briefly considered to pretend that that didn’t happen – because who would know!? – but then I decided that the whole point of this blog is to share my experience honestly so that someone somewhere can maybe find some value in it. So here is when I relapsed:

1) When my wife and I went on a 5-day mini vacation in New Hampshire and Maine. I didn’t post anything and in fact made it a point to primarily take photos with my SLR camera rather than with my phone to make the process of photographing more mindful and intentional. But at the same time I felt a weird sense of jealousy that Julie got to share our beautiful vacation with our friends, while my photos remained unseen (for now) on my camera’s SD card. Out of that jealousy, I briefly visited Julie’s Instagram to see what she posted. Before getting to Julie’s page, I saw a few photos of my friends’ beautiful families and realized again how much I missed that part of social media. To not completely abort the mission, I resisted the urge to mindlessly scroll. Or, using the alcoholic analogy, I took a sip and then was able to put back the bottle before getting drunk mindlessly.

2) The next couple of sips were taken after the conclusion of “The Bachelorette”. (Yes, I know, watching a reality TV show doesn’t seem to be the best example of intentional living. I’m working on it.) The season finale was rather dramatic and the bachelorette’s choice slightly controversial so I JUST HAD TO go to her and her fiance’s Instagram pages to see how they were presenting themselves to the world. I also felt the need to check on Peter, the guy who got his heart broken in the process. He’s fine. They’re all fine as far as I can tell because social media is no place to show when you’re not fine. It should be. It should be a place to share our human experience and to use modern technology to multiply the love and support we have for each other. But I digress. Once again, I resisted the scrolling and stayed away from the notifications icons.

As for what I wanted to get out of this – primarily more time – it’s working. I’ve read more and had more meaningful conversations with the people I love and with myself. I’m starting to look ahead to the end of this detox and I’m confident that in another 15 days I will have learned how to use social media in an intentional, mindful manner.

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Scroll No More – Day 5

I got ready in 25 minutes this morning. Getting ready in this case entailed showering after my Crossfit class, throwing on some clothes (I work in an office where everyday is casual Friday and Friday is wear your sweats to work day), having a cup of coffee, picking up enough of my shit to keep my wife happy, and running out of the door (with wet hair, otherwise the 25 minutes would have turned into 30). What the fuck does that have to do with operation Scroll-No-More, you ask? Well, I usually need about an hour in the morning and I’m pretty sure that the infamous scrolling habit I’m trying to kick has a lot to do with slowing things down. Even if the actual scrolling only takes 15 minutes (on a good day), it has residual effects. Picking out an outfit takes longer when getting distracted by a cute kitten video on the way from the closet to the socks drawer, only to be stopped in my tracks by an adorable senior dog looking for a forever home on my way from the socks drawer to the shoe rack. (And we live in a studio apartment!)

My point is that I get out of the door much faster if I don’t touch my phone until I’m about to walk out. Every action is a tiny bit more deliberate and done a tiny bit faster. It’s not necessarily noticeable while I’m in the middle of it but makes such a big difference. Have you ever heard a wise man preach about how the little things add up? That’s why they call him a wise man…

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Scroll No More – Day 4

Not even 100 hours of my social media detox have passed and I almost relapsed yesterday. When I needed a break from the spreadsheets, I picked up my phone and typed in facebook.com into the browser. It was automatic – like drinking water when I’m thirsty. Then I saw the familiar blue interface and the little red globe telling me that I had 12 notifications. I resisted the urge to see what they were notifying me of. I felt like an alcoholic picking up a bottle, opening it, smelling the liquor, and realizing that I was about to fuck up all the good progress that I made. I’m glad that I didn’t click on that tempting red globe, although I probably missed a few birthdays and a few likes to stroke my ego. It’s okay. My real friends will forgive me for not dropping a birthday message on their wall and my ego will learn to not depend on how many people like my posts.

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Scroll No More – Day 3

Day 3 showed me that there’s more to this smartphone disease than social media. While staying away from Facebook and Instagram I still find myself using my phone as a pacifier. There are hundreds of my own photos, news websites, and emails (of zero importance) to scroll through. Turns out that eliminating time spent on social media does not magically increase productivity and creative thinking. Yesterday, I had at least half an eye on my phone for most of the day. I didn’t want to miss any important messages or phone calls (and by important I mean anything coming from my wife or family). Time to kick operation Scroll-No-More into a higher gear. Today, I will make an effort to put my phone out of reach/sight and limit the amount of notifications I receive.

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Scroll No More – Day 2

Yesterday was a lazy Sunday – a prime scrolling day. Normally, it’s part of the routine: coffee in bed while checking Instagram. Then go back and check for updates later during the day. Maybe post the 1001st cute dog picture of my fur babies just to let the world know that I love our dogs and that they are definitely cuter than yours. In that picture I would have included the serene background of beautiful summer country living to show how great my life is, especially on the weekend. I didn’t do any of that and realized that I can live without knowing who makes what kind of avocado toast, who’s sweating in which gym, and who’s at which airport going to which vacation destination. It doesn’t add a whole lot of value to my life. I also realized that it’s okay to take pictures of our dogs and the beautiful country setting simply for my own pleasure. There were a few things that I missed: Simey and Sara from Susie’s Senior Dogs, pictures of my friends’ kids, and leaving nice and/or encouraging comments to make people smile. With the hour that I took back from social media, I read a whole issue of Outside magazine, the women’s issue that had been sitting on a shelf for several weeks. It was fantastic and I might have even learned a thing or two about writing by reading stuff written by good writers.

Today I’m back at the office for just another manic Monday and I’m using my mental break to write this instead of checking in with my favorite members of the Bachelor franchise. Progress.

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Scroll No More – Day 1

I’m sure I’m not the first to use the term “smartphone epidemic”. Smartphones are wonderful tools but they can also harm us. They cause orthopedic problems such as text neck or texting thumb (yes there is actual terminology for it), they mess with our sleep, they cause fatal car crashes and make people accidentally walk off of cliffs. And those are just some of the obvious, physical ways in which they can harm us. Of course, they can also save and enhance lives with GPS systems, easy and affordable communication with loved ones far away, reminders to stay on schedule, podcasts, the ability to rally a large crowd of like-minded people for a good cause, etc. But at the same time they can isolate us, make us less aware of our surroundings, and take us out of the present moment. We’ve lost the ability to simply wait and to self-soothe, how to deal with things in our lives without comparing them to others. For every important news article we find on Facebook or every connection we make with a long lost friend, there are five articles about make up artists magically turning into Kylie Jenner, how to make a cute tank top from an old t-shirt, or cooking videos that teach us how to cram 5000 calories into a single casserole. We post a picture and if it doesn’t get a certain number of likes, it somehow makes us feel inadequate. On social media, it’s really easy to give a fuck about things that don’t deserve our fucks. (Thank you, Mark Manson, for that concept.) Smartphones also use up a lot of our time. I estimate that on average I spend about one hour everyday scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, sometimes less sometimes more. For those not so good at math, that’s roughly 365 hours a year, or a little more than 15 full days. That is time that I could spend writing, cultivating new passions, or doing something good for my body.

Okay, I think you get it, I feel like I’m wasting precious time scrolling and I have attempted to curb this behavior many times only to learn that cold turkey is the only way for me to get a handle on this. I want to learn in what moments I miss the pacifier and if I will notice a significant difference in having more time and having an easier time being on time and staying focused. I want to figure out what the benefits of social media are that I’m going to miss while going cold turkey. The last 30 day challenge I did was the minimalism game and it was all about intentional living. What brings me joy? What do I need? What are my priorities that I want to spend my time on? These are the important questions that I continue to need answers to and I hope that the next 30 days of not scrolling through Facebook or Instragram will help me find them. Today, July 29th, is Day 1 and August 27th will be Day 30.

Normally, I share my blog posts on Facebook to get them in front of my friends but I’m not going to do that this time (for obvious reasons). I will write them purely for the small group of people who follow my blog, who somehow find these posts without Facebook. Here’s to 30 hours of time better spent.

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