I am currently walking a new path of self-discovery. I haven’t disappeared to India or been on any vision quests to find myself (yet), but as a whole, I was simply not happy the way I was going, so I changed direction. The choices I was making and things I was doing were affecting the way I felt and, like many people, I simply disliked the way I felt.
Working online all day, every day and then spending large portions of my free time online was becoming a drain on my mind. I was filling every little slice of boredom with Twitter, Reddit, or mindless scrolling the web that I was becoming frustrated with myself.
Like every bad tradesman the knee-jerk reaction was to blame the tools. Blame the internet, web designers, and all the things around me for being made to distract me. I sought out a smaller phone, one that I didn’t feel like using as much, I restricted my usage of the internet when not working, and time blocked my calendar to make me indistractable while working.
This worked, it made me realise that I was turning a ridiculous potion of my life into dead time. Passively waiting or searching for something to distract me and give me something to do. I didn’t even know these things were distracting me, because I had no idea what I wanted to be gaining traction towards. By removing those things I filled my time with allowed me to read more, do more, and have more meaningful relationships. Exactly the types of things that life should be built around and that make me a much happier person.
I am not exaggerating when I say that removing many of the things that I used to find important in my life allowed me to see how utterly meaningless they were. It is true that you must let go of what you love the most, and see if it returns, and as I let go of a lot of social media usage, it never returned.
While in internet is full of ways to grab your attention from you, and getting worse the deeper we go into the attention economy, it is not the reason I was so distracted. Manipulation by platform developers only goes so far toward hacking your brain. What I quickly realised was that I had a choice to do these things or not, it was internally that I was so susceptible to the triggers used.
I started paying attention to the triggers that whisked me away down an internet rabbit hole, and by and large, it wasn’t the internet's fault — it was mine. When I was honest with myself and realised that because of my internal triggers I was searching for things to fill my time, the external triggers worked like a charm. I didn’t need to resort to a worse phone, or disconnect myself — I just needed to be mindful of the distractions and make myself indistractable.