mercredi 23 décembre 2015

Digital detox

I belong to generation Y and I know what it means to be addicted to smartphones, to Facebook, to Whatsapp... But as Socrates said: "I know that I don't know", i.e. I am conscious about it and trying to improve how I consume digital media in order to keep my psychological health in shape. There is a lot of articles on the subject, my goal is to share some tips and tricks from my personal experience. I will not discuss the dangers of social media (use of data, manipulation...) nor how digital is disconnecting us from reality (little birds singing on trees).

So why psychological health? because it's as important as physical health but we always tend to ignore it.
The first syndrome of digital addiction is decreasing concentration. Indeed, we are continually interrupted by notifications and can rarely focus on an idea for longtime, leading us to less mental efficiency and serenity.
The second syndrome is emotional dependency on "virtual". We humain beings need to be loved, to be noticed, to be surrounded. Evolutionary psychologists believe it is the result of years of evolution where humain beings, living in tribes, could not survive alone. Being ignored in a tribe means the risk of death and not passing his genes, thus we developed a warning mechanism associated with pain. Researchers have proved that the same areas of our brain are activated when we experience rejection or physical pain. Before digital era, people counted solely on family, on partner, on friendships to satisfy this need of belongingness. Nowadays we rely a lot on virtual "likes" of almost unknown people, which can be devastating when it disappears, because its just virtual!

So how am I trying to have a better control on all of this? here are four advices I am experimenting:
  • Use the right media for the right communication. For simplicity, let's consider that there are two types of communication: type A, important and need to reply or take actions rapidly, and type B the less important one. We should use an adapted channel for each type, for example type A requires a channel with instant notification, like SMS, and type B requires non instant channel like Facebook messaging. It means you should deactivate notification from Facebook, and never use it or let your contacts use it for important matters. That lets you avoid the need to check Facebook regularly for type A messages.
  • Separate being informed from being entertained. It should be clear in your mind, when you are consuming digital, whether you just want to lose time or obtain information. Personally, I have created two Facebook accounts: a first one where I have fun looking to friends posts and interacting with them, and a second one with no friends, but with only subscription to theater pages, news, articles, music... 
  • Put some constraints. I am testing for example the following constraints: keep the phone in your pocket hidden from your eyes, do not check your phone when in presence of others (good for respect too :)), log out each time you go to Facebook, power off phone at night, limit digital consuming time per day...
  • Be conscious of your usage. The first idea is to know how much you spend on your phone during a day. I tested an app on Android called Quality Time that shows you how much you use each app. I was shocked when I discovered that I can unlock my phone screen up to 200 times a day! The second idea, a very important one, is to ask yourself each time you want to use your smartphone why I am doing this? what motivated me? what am I looking for?

To be honest, I am still far from my goals, but I am happy to be conscious about it, and that's the most important step !

4 commentaires :

  1. Thank you Achraf for these tips, I always turn off Facebook and Whatsapp notifications. Whatsapp groups are really devastating and should be reduced to a minimum.
    One more tip: we should put our smartphone in Airplane mode and deactivate the Wifi when we really want/need to work.

  2. Hi dear :)
    I have a special position about groups on whatsapp. i only use it for ephemeral needs, like organizing something -> type A communication.
    Otherwise, i prefer one to one communication as groups tend to erase this intimacy.

  3. Hi Achraf, thanks for your tips. You may like a Chrome plugin which turns off the news feed and ads in Facebook. It can be an alternative to creating a separate account for your reader's "being informed" time, simply turn the plugin on and off with a few clicks.
    The plugin name is "Kill News Feed"

    one of the best reads on intoxication by social networks/apps