I live in a toxic relationship. I used to tell myself that it wasn’t too bad, that I could stop at any time, but it turns out I can’t. The digital world drains me, stealing the time of my life, keeping me from achieving my goals, and making me miss out on the moments around me.
Since 2007 (when I got my first laptop), technology was always a part of my day, and through the smartphone, our relationship intensified. I don’t know how many hours I spend watching YouTube, playing games, or scrolling through Reddit, and frankly, I am afraid of how high this number might be.
I know that my relationship with technology isn’t healthy, but I don’t have the willpower to stop it. There were times when I established good habits and didn’t open Youtube for a month, but somehow, I always go back to consuming content (and not just one video a day), and once I am back at it, it is like I never stopped.
It is a proper addiction to the dopamine flow caused by the passive consumption of other peoples’ lives and the interaction with games. I consume the adventures of others and see them living my dream instead of making my own goals become a reality. And the worst part: deep down, I know all of this, and I have the feeling that I could achieve more in life if I’d stop consuming digital content. I am horrified by the possibility of waking up one day and realising that I wasted the time of my life and that it is too late to change that.
(The silver lining?)
It is not too late yet. I am not only aware of this problem but also have plenty of time to change it.
And that is why today, on the 23rd of September 2021, I decided to break up my long-time relationship with technology.
- No digital consumption of any kind (Youtube, Netflix, Social Media, Reddit, news, etc.)
- No games
- No use of my phone as a distraction (e.g. to kill time at a bus stop or on the toilet)
The important exception: I won’t miss out on time with friends and family, and that is why I’ll keep watching Netflix with my wife, movies with my parents, and I will catch up with my friends over a round of CIV. When I am enjoying the situation with others, I am allowed to interact with technology, but not when I am alone. I will also log in to my social media accounts twice a week to reply to messages.
I am not trying to eliminate technology from my life - on the contrary, I want to utilise the good parts to help me live a better life. The key is to separate them from the bad parts, and because that used to be difficult for me (YouTube is just one click away from Ulysses), I decided to cut out the bad pieces completely.
One Last Kiss
To mark the end of my relationship, I decided to sit down for one more hour of YouTube and one last game of Counter-Strike. It wasn’t easy to find a video suited for the occasion.
(because most of the content is meaningless?)
I lost a boring yet long game of CS, and then the moment came. At 12:57 pm, I finished my final act of digital consumption.
This is the start of a 1-year experiment. I know this will hurt, and I don’t know how successful I will be, but I feel excited and know that this can be a positive change for my future. My theory: once I get out of this vicious circle, I will reach my dreams in no time.