How to Cool Your Digital Motor

Being constantly engaged online is like munching from the party snack bowl. You can’t seem to stop and no one will put it away. Step away from the Cheez-its! They are dangerous and so is your constant online activity.

I sound like my mother, but let’s face it, she is always right in the end.

The challenge: A digital detox like nothing before. The time commitment: One month. The rules: A for effort. The result: Digital dieting is a lifestyle change, and not a one-and-done. A.k.a., this will not fix all your problems but it will probably help in the day-to-day. For those of you wondering why I haven’t posted in a few weeks, I cite the latter. 

I have to acknowledge my boyfriend for inspiring this challenge. His media intake consists of The Economist weekly and The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. He doesn’t watch TV, he isn’t on twitter and he never posts on Instagram. To top it all off, he has on a browser timer (um, genius) and allows himself only 15 minutes per day. The less he has in his media stream, the more tuned-in he is. So what’s wrong with me? I don’t think I ever fully engage in my online life, I only open the flood gates and hope something sticks. 

I want to be inspired by the digital age again. I don’t want to be irritated by it. No matter how much time I spend online I always feel like I missed something. I will never watch or hear or read or post it all, so I decided to only watch and read and post a little and see what happened. I solemnly swear that I put the following principles into practice, and I became a mildly happier person as a result.

Imagine what your life would be like if you only engaged with your favorite websites, social accounts and online communities. If you can’t imagine it but you’re still unhappy, try the following and see what happens:

1. Un-bookmark

Delete bookmarks on your browser that you don’t feel offer anything of value anymore. Too many pop-up ads? Delete. No new posts for six months? Delete. Stale content? Delete. Meant to return to it but never did? Read, then delete. This took me about 2 hours, and it needed to be done.

2. Un-follow

Guilty follow backs are the equivalent of leaving the bar with some dunce just because he bought you a martini. Un-follow accounts that crowd your feed with content that does not give you joy (taking from the Konmari method, here). For friends you’d prefer not to offend, mute works just as well. No one has rights to your digital space just because they went to high school with you. It’s not personal—you need more privacy in your online zone.

3. Purge your phone

There is an app for everything, and that is where it all starts. Clear your phone of all the apps you don’t use. They clog your storage, devour your data and make it more difficult to find the apps that you actually benefit from. You never play Hungry Shark anymore. Let it go.

4. Try alternative magazines

I can’t think of any other media more worthy of my time. You know the ones I mean—matte, thick and not available at Barnes & Noble. If you buy Vogue, you’re going to see billboards on every page. Beautiful billboards, but billboards none the less.

The cleaner the book, the more likely you are to discover something or someone spectacular. You’ll find them at your local coffee spots and vintage shops, and you’ll see instantly how every word in them was selected for you by artists who paid to print it with their life savings. If anyone deserves your money, they do. No idea where to start? Try Circus magazine.

5. Suspend all cross-tech multitasking

If you’re on your phone at the same time you’re television is broadcasting, you don’t actually care about whatever it is you have playing. Time is money, and you’re throwing hard-earned dollars at your electric company. You wouldn’t have your phone out at the movie theater, right? Right, not just because you don’t want to disturb the people around you but because you paid $15 for your ticket because you’re there to engage and enjoy the film.

Just pick one. Or better yet, make room to do things you might enjoy more. I tried attending galleries, vintage shopping, re-reading the Harry Potter novels, listening to old Disney soundtracks and finding new bars. How are you ever going to take any postable photos if you don’t do anything?

Feature image by Lukas via


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