We moved into our new little rural home in August, living without electricity for 2.5 months. When we finally got it in October, it didn't mean we could get internet too. Since our place is heavily treed, it wasn't possible to get satellite internet and Telus didn't have enough ports in the area. We were left to make do without internet for seven months.
Seven months without internet at home.
Time was empty and fluid. I remembered my love for drawing, art, reading and writing... Free of distractions, I felt like I could learn and think critically without just repeating information I seen online. And since I wasn't constantly looking at what other brands were doing, I had time to think about what I truly wanted Earth and Elle to be, and formulate a new chapter.
I checked my emails and posted on social media [for my business] at my favourite local spots and my best friends let me do computer work at their houses. I didn't have time to muddle over the greatness of others or succumb into vague and uneducated articles on Facebook due to scrolling. I also forgot about Google-searching random things that pop into my head. All I could focus on during that precious internet time were the basics of replying to people and my future business goals.
Being far from the internet was definitely challenging, though it also felt like a cleanse. I could be alone without needing to fidget or search for instant gratification. I'm now reading actual books that inspire me without the shadow of a screen interfering. I've even noticed that my focus has improved.
Then the internet came in mid February. Thank God, I don't have to lug my laptop around anymore...! But all the sudden, it was dazzling to look at all the new shows on Netflix and videos on Youtube. Scrolling Instagram and Facebook felt like fulfilling a craving, even though I haven't been habitually doing that for months.
Then one morning, I caught myself looking at all these other brands that were doing so well and feeling bad that I wasn't there yet. It made my day weird, muddled and unfocused. I'd known that I would have to approach having internet at home again with caution... I guess I just wasn't expecting it to hit so hard so soon. That came with a solid reminder though, about how detrimental 24/hr access to internet use can be.
So what am I doing to remind myself about the values I learnt from my time without it?...
Turning off the WiFi on my phone at night;
Peace of mind is SO important before falling asleep, so why would I pollute my mind with social media before bed? Never, do I ever plan to go back to the days of scrolling at night ever again!
Trying to remind myself everyday that focus is more important than what others are doing...
Constantly watching what others are doing is just bad. We already know this. When it happens, it's almost like we unconsciously compare ourselves! And comparison is the worst thing for self esteem. It makes us forget focus and purpose... You and I work far too hard to give away focus and purpose to social media.
Are you feeling anger, envy or sadness when you cruise the internet? These are all good cues that say it's time to put the phone down.
I'm re-learning to snap out of it.
If I catch myself scrolling and thinking "this is dumb, why am I looking at this...?" I try snapping out of it by remembering that I like reading intelligent literature. So, would I rather be reading right now, or?... What am I doing here?... From there, I realize all the things I just listed and I feel completely justified by putting down my phone.
You can also put a rubber band around your phone.
I Was talking about the relevance of this blog to my friend Sharai, (who models for Earth/Elle and directs her own films!) while we were visiting over her new puppy. She was telling me a hack she uses to help restrict unnecessary phone use: Just put an elastic band over your phone! I drew a blank at first... Like wait, why? But it's so obvious! If you pick up your phone without really needing to, the elastic restricts your ability to use the touch screen.
Use an old school alarm clock...
If you need an alarm to wake you up, I want to remind you about old school alarm clocks! Using one of those instead of your cell phone means you can charge your phone in a room other than your bedroom and focus on falling asleep with ease. You can keep your ringtone loud in case there's an emergency and you can hear your phone. Otherwise, everything can wait until the morning, right?
Don't take your phone into the bathroom.
This one speaks for itself but uh... let's be honest, many people do this!
When you're eating, just eat.
It's easy to whip out the phone for entertainment and a bunch of "quick replies" while eating, though this is another area of life that's just better without distractions. I promise, your food will taste better if your mind is solely focused on eating and not scrolling. Better yet if you're eating with other people, they deserve your attention too.
All in all, we can just turn the thing off once in a while... During times when the cellular device has to be on though, it's not a bad thing to learn how to keep our attention in check.
I welcome your comments and conversation in this space.
Let's be together kindly.