Too many megabytes can make a girl dull
As November rolled around and the holidays approached, a mild depression began to set in. A mild depression is always worse than a deep depression. While a deep depression can keep you in bed for days, with the blinds closed, consuming nothing but Marlboros and Smirnoff to ease the physical and mental pains, if you’re not suicidal you eventually pull out. There’s a dramatic flair in the tragedy of deep despair that at least keeps things a bit interesting. But a mild depression is so lackluster that it can be hard to name, or worse yet—even notice. It just sits there slowly smothering your spirit—no drugs, no alcohol, no dramatic poses on the bed, just slowly suffocating you until you’re completely out of oxygen. It is a slow and uneventful death.
I slouched into the holidays in this bland state of inertia without even realizing it. I felt as if I were stuck in a huge vat of tar—dark, toxic, and bottomless. I’d head out for my morning runs completely unenthused with heavy legs, crappy posture, and a shitty attitude. My days became a collection of really boring video footage; one day bled into the next without any real differentiation. Blah. Blah. Blah.
I needed to get unstuck
As I tried untangling myself from the unseeable entity that was holding my spirit hostage, I began to notice that I was not alone in this lethargic swamp. Everywhere I looked I saw people with their faces glued to their phones, laptops, iPods, iPads, Kindles and Nooks; lifelessly checking their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. They were just like me! We are all headed to the tar pit. I started to imagine that we would all begin to morph into some strange, flat-faced screen-reader shape. Add that to the obesity epidemic induced by too much sitting, and the excessively wrinkly necks that we’re all getting due to the weird twitch we’ve developed by looking down at our phones a gazillion times a day, and it’s not a pretty sight. Strange, evolutionary freak show aside, I realized it was the banality of this digital life that was killing me.
Drowning in my own efficiency
I had begun my holiday shopping online; likely, that’s what pushed me over the edge. Every time I searched for that perfect gift to buy for someone, my search page would get littered with links that led to Amazon. (In case you didn’t know this, you can purchase ANYTHING IN THE WORLD on Amazon. Anything.) How dreary it became scrolling through page after page looking for the best deal, the free shipping. The hours spent sitting and shopping were painful for my poor hips and my mushy brain. There wasn’t a shred of the jolly season in me. It is not beautiful, shopping online. It is efficient. While I am a master and great appreciator of efficiency, I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily a good thing.
I was gorging on screens, overdosing on social media, liking friends’ Facebook pages and their cute, little cat photos. (Okay, I don’t even really like cats. There. I said it.) Why was I wasting so much of my time with my face in a screen? Because that is the way of technology. It is awesome, entertaining, convenient. We love it. We use it. We need it. We rely on it. Then it consumes us.
I was starving for reality, life, and art. I needed to lower my daily intake of megabytes. I decided to put myself on a digital diet.
Girl Reworked’s 8 steps to successful digital dieting
1. I stopped checking my phone first thing in the morning. No phone checking until after breakfast.
2. My phone now has a bed time—it goes to bed (gets turned off—not set to vibrate) an hour or so before I do. Same with my laptop.
3. I did the majority of my holiday shopping locally, in real stores. Spending a few hours walking downtown doing my holiday shopping in real stores with real people in them is way more fun than sitting at my desk, clicking on items, and adding them to my virtual basket.
4. I used my phone to make actual phone calls (!) instead of texting people I wanted to connect with.
5. I started writing real, snail-mail-based letters to friends and family for the fun and beauty of it. Then, I went so far as to walk to the post office to mail them. Triple bonus for gettting my ass off the chair, walking, and bumping into a few friends along the way.
6. I checked out of Facebook and Twitter for a while. (I’ve gone back, but in moderation.)
7. I started wearing a watch again so when I need to know the time, I don’t need to pull out my phone. Bonus: a beautiful watch is way more chic than a phone in terms of accessorizing.
8. I stopped taking my iPhone into the bathroom with me. (Oh, please tell me that you’ve done this too. Right?)
The reunion with reality was gorgeous. Instant. The beauty of what is real—walking, talking, writing on paper, seeing, appreciating—perked me up like a wilted flower after a light rain. I got my happy back on.
I began to ease myself back into the tech world grateful for the self-imposed megabyte cutback. I realized that just because we can do something online doesn’t mean that we should.
I also learned that I love technology, but I love reality more. And to stay healthy and happy I need to find the right balance between the two.
How is your megabyte consumption working for you?