It’s kind of amusing that when I began researching for this post and typed out ‘limited internet’, Google showed me troubleshooting solutions. It assumed I had internet problems and wanted to fix the speed. ‘Minimal internet’ returned results on the minimum bandwidth and speed requirements for a connection.
Thanks, Google, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
You see, this struck me earlier today when I put up a status on Twitter on being up at 4.15 am this morning. Yes, okay. If you’re following me there or on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you’ve seen it already. So, don’t worry. I won’t bombard you again.
The only reason I was able to wake up that early was because I’ve started sleeping earlier. Most nights I am in bed by 10; sometimes it’s earlier, by 9.30. And, I try to switch off from the internet by 7.30 pm, maybe 8:00, give or take. These aren’t hard and fast rules. You may find me online a little later on some nights, but by large, this has worked well for me.
The seed for this habit was planted after I read Arianna Huffington’s ‘Thrive’, where she speaks of the sleep revolution and the need for better sleep. It hit me hard, especially since I used to suffer from insomnia many years ago. Now, years later, my health was in my hands, medication-free and I needed to make the change.
One of the biggest causes for people to stay awake late at night is the internet. We’re either scrolling through social media updates or reading articles or watching YouTube videos. If we are bloggers, we’re either writing blog posts or reading blogs or sharing them on social media. Essentially, it can become an infinite and rather dangerous loop. (If this isn’t you, good for you! You’ve already achieved internet nirvana.)
But, what if we take things into our hands and decide that the internet does not control us? We control the internet.
Easier said than done, especially when we have information at our fingertips now. Literally. Pick up the phone, swipe up, swipe down or swipe right and you get updates from your favourite apps.
But, what if we made the switch?
- What if, we used the internet the way it was meant to be used, as a tool instead of a distraction?
- How about, if you used the phone only to make and receive calls and just take the occasional picture?
- What if you used time tracking to check how many minutes a day you spend on social media?
- What if you turned off all notifications on your phone and let the sounds of reality awaken you instead?
- What if you had hardly any social media apps on your phone and accessed them only through the laptop?
- What if you picked up a book to read instead of your phone when you feel bored?
Is this possible? I can tell you that it is.
In the last 2 months alone, I’ve seen a shift that has happened. I am more content, less prone to taking offence at what I read online and find myself engaging more consciously with things that matter. I’m not Zen or anything like that. I’m just trying to be more conscious with the time I spend online.
Part of the fact is that I need to be online for work. But the beauty is I can choose to completely switch off on the weekends. During the week, I can set cut-off times and do other things that don’t involve being connected to the internet.
Suddenly, the whole perspective shifts. It’s incredible.
So, my question to you is, could you do it? Could you make a conscious choice to use the internet the way it is meant to be used? Because it’s a wonderful tool, if accessed the right way. And I owe a lot of my career and professional life to it, not to mention some great friendships as well.
The point is, though, how much is too much? Take your time, think it over and let me know in the comments below.
You may like to read these two articles for some practical tips to implement minimalism and internet use.