What’s your Why-Fi?
Digital Wellness 101: Find Your Values
Why do we browse the internet?
There are many answers to this question. For some, it’s an easy distraction from the chaos of everyday life. For others, it’s a low-risk way to socialize. For some, it's a way to constantly learn new things. If you want to spend less time on the internet, it’s helpful to figure out what purpose it serves in your life.
So why do I use the internet? Personally, I’m an information sponge and a place like Reddit is full of interesting facts. Also, I like being able to “eavesdrop” and read discussions without posting. It feels like socializing, but without any of the anxiety talking to people can bring. Youtube and other types of browsing are just a way to deal with stress and escape from “real life.”
I asked Digitally Well’s illustrator, Hame, the same question.
“I turn to the internet to find inspiration, tools and solutions. Socializing too, there are so many interesting folks you can meet! Sometimes, I end up using the internet to avoid emotional pain. It’s so easy to fall into the internet’s endless scrolling opium dreams, but that always leaves me feeling scrambled and lost.”
Speaking broadly, many of us that browse the internet compulsively are using it as a coping mechanism. We often want to get away from the world, and the internet can be a powerful escape. Distraction may numb unpleasant emotions, but when used to avoid life it has high costs. Using the internet for coping can come with the price of bad time management, poor attention span and lack of a “life” outside of the internet.
The key to changing our bad tech habits is replacing them with healthier coping mechanisms. Is there a hobby you haven’t engaged in in a while? Maybe something you’ve always wanted to try? Now is the time to explore your interests. When we step back from using the internet all day, there’s tons of time to engage in things we care about.
Once you’ve thought about why you browse, ask yourself: is this the best way to meet my needs? Scrolling through your feeds may feel like socialization, but a weekly group call with your friends would be better. Browsing forums may stimulate the information-seeking part of your brain, but reading a chapter of a book would give higher quality info. Maybe you’ll find that technology really does fulfill some of your needs, that’s fine. The important thing is that you clarify your values and make sure you’re not settling for a watered-down version of what you want.
PS- More stuff!
With all the time you will have from becoming a digital minimalist, you might benefit from a productivity hack called time blocking. Check out Jose’s article here.
Lastly, a spot-on comic by Hame: