how to live a better life with your phone

A Twentysomething Guide to Digital Minimalism

Millennial:

Baby Boomers: IT’S THOSE GODFORSAKEN PHONES!!!!!!

Popular media sources love to pigeonhole us into a generation of ‘phone addicted snowflakes’. And yes, we spend an ungodly amount of time staring at our screens. But we sometimes forget that our phone and social media can help make us happier, healthier, and more educated!

Let’s start here: technology isn’t intrinsically bad for you. Nor is it intrinsically beneficial. It all depends on how we use technology. Sometimes it seems as technology controls us, and it’s important to remember that we are fully in control of our digital experience.

So, instead of advocating for completely unplugging (although this can be nice from time to time), I believe that anyone can learn how to use technology in a way that supports their goals and values, and creates a positive digital experience.

Here’s how:  

1 | Take a mental note each time you catch yourself aimlessly scrolling

There’s something so addictive about scrolling through our social feeds that we won’t even stop after doing a full circle and seeing the same old content again. Reaching an end point provides a sense of control (I mean, why would you even consider going to the second page of Google results?). By infinitely scrolling, we never encounter such a trigger, and our brain has to process more information than it can handle, often leaving us a little disoriented and fatigued after snapping out of it.

The first step to un-learning this habit is to simply take a moment when you realise you’re doing it. Ask yourself: “Am I benefitting from this at the moment?” If the answer is no, you’ll notice that it’s suddenly a lot easier to put down your phone.

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2 | Turn off your notifications

You own your phone, not the other way around. And I get it, who doesn’t like to distract themselves from other tasks by checking what memes they were tagged in? By doing so, however, you create the idea you’re expected to be available 24/7, and that can be stressful. Why not turn off your notifications and reply at a moment that suits you better, while at the same time reducing your screen time?

3 | Go through unanswered texts before going to bed

Ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking “SHIT I HAVEN’T REPLIED TO THIS PERSON”? (I have it all the time because I suck at replying). Disconnecting and unwinding at the end of your day is easier knowing you haven’t ignored your best friend’s boy-crisis. Set a specific time for when you go through all your texts and (personal) emails, for example after dinner.

4 | Know when something you see is a false reality

“Woman finds secret to eternal life, doctors HATE her”. Whether we’re talking disappointing clickbait articles or low-key influencer marketing on the Gram, there are tons of misleading advertising circulating on the internet. Pay attention to hashtags like #ad or #sponsored to double check if your favourite social media celebrity truly loves a product or service or just is being paid for promoting it.

5 | Similarly, don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet

Social media can sometimes make us feel like we’re not living our best lives, but in reality, no one is! Like some inject their lips with botox or get butt implants, people ‘cosmetically’ – or rather, technically – alter, distort, and filter their life online. As a result, we’re all set up with a bunch of unrealistic expectations that we consider to be the new normal. Offline, even Alexis Ren looks like she got hit by a car sometimes.

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6 | Social media isn’t the equivalent of a social contract

You don’t have to accept your co-workers friend request, or follow back this person you spoke to 6 years ago, even if you feel like you should just to be nice to them. If you really want a valuable digital experience, it doesn’t make sense to allow a bunch of people that you wouldn’t engage with on your timeline.  

7 | Create a list of how you use social media versus how you could use it more effectively

Do you sometimes snoop around the social media accounts of your ex / nemesis / someone you like to hate on/make fun of? That habit is now canceled. Instead, take a regular peek at the profile of someone you look up to. Use it to offer help, educate, or positively influence your digital peers.

8 | Unfollow anyone who doesn’t make you happier, healthier, more educated or inspired

For me, that includes still following a guy that I hardly know, because he often shares genuinely satisfying videos of him peeling off plastic of new equipment. BLISS.

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9 | Include your personal goals into your digital experience

Do you want to improve your French this year? Go find someone French-speaking that you’d like to follow and engage with. Watch Netflix shows with French subtitles. Change the language settings on your phone to French and watch how fast you’ll be forced to learn new vocab!