Finding a balance between digital life and the real one

Image source: Pixabay

A typical day in the life of millennials generally starts off with waking to the sound of the alarm, set in the digital clock of their phones, and just after waking up check up on their friends status updates and check-ins on social apps which now range from Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat and sometimes Facebook.

Almost half of our days go by in checking out social feeds, responding to messages and sharing cool content and memes which comes along our way on various group chats. Almost a few years back most of us were actually spending our days outdoors or hanging out with friends. The mode of a resort to entertainment was restricted to TV shows which we would get access to only during specific hours. Slowly computers, laptops and now smartphones changed all of that. In the trending path of Myspace, Orkut, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat along with loads on entertainment apps like Tiktok, Youtube, Netflix, Prime Video and what not, our generation gradually started becoming used to spending half of our weekdays and majority of our weekends in front of the screen. Even hanging out on weekends became less of spending quality time with friends and bit more about posting status updates and boasting in front of our online followers. But we do realize that it’s slowly taking its toll on our eyes, sleeping patterns, mental health, and general well being.

A device launched for making communication easier is gradually becoming a necessity to get through the day. Even after applying a plethora of blue light filters, anti glares and brightness control we do feel burning sensation in our eyes at the end of the day.

The level of addiction has hit such a level that new terms like nomophobia (an exaggerated, inexplicable, and illogical fear being without a mobile device, power source, or service area) has become an official entry in the urban dictionary.

Although indulging in social applications does give us an easy escape from daily struggles and boredom, we need to ask a question to ourselves if we need to put a limit to daily screen exposure. If the answer to this question is a resounding yes you may proceed further else there is no point in reading the rest of this article.

Although there are a plethora of social media and communication apps a common theme in all of them is they provide a virtual window into the life of others and way to communicate with them in a minimalist mode. A minimalist mode because we generally tend to go for simple text messages majority of times, sometimes for voice call and rarely with video calls.

Although this kind of channels does provide us with a way to interact with the world it still has its limits and boundaries. Text messages don’t convey emotions and context, something which is quite essential to actually make a deep connection with someone. You might be sending funny memes or heart emojis to many but might not be actually making someone laugh or impress them.

More or less these tools are good to discuss plans for meeting or general tasks but beyond that, it’s good to step out of your comfort zone and meet people and actually talk with them. Yes, there’s a class of introverts among us and if you are reading this article right now chances are you are actually one of them. As an introvert, you may find yourself comfortable spending time alone or prefer texting over voice calls…Heck be at loss of words or falter when actually talking to someone…But here’s a little tidbit secret… There’s is rarely anyone in this world who can be classified as completely introvert or extrovert. Most of us are comfortable talking with our close friends, or in comfortable spaces but it’s when we are put out of our comfort zone it takes different time for everyone to adapt accordingly. The applications in our phones provide us with a window of comfort zone where we can simply be ourselves and converse with others. But at the end of the day, it’s better to have one proper conversation with someone rather than exchanging hundreds of conversations back and forth. And for that, it’s necessary to find a way to balance our virtual life with the physical one.

Here are some of the ways in which we can achieve that balance:-

  • Dedicate specific hours for browsing through social media or use the phone in general

Most of us have a habit of checking out our phone first thing in the morning or late in the evening before going to sleep. Both of the habits are equally bad since our eyes have to adjust bright light from phones just after waking up which puts quite a strain on the pupils and there are tons of articles on how exposure to blue light from the screen before going to bed disturbs our sleep patterns. The only one gaining from this is eye drop/spectacles manufacturing companies since there has been a steady rise in people using eye drops and specs in the past few decades. Instead, if we decide to dedicate a specific hour or hours to check out social feed, reply to messages then it can go a long way in improving our health, add a new level of discipline and allow us to use our time effectively.

  • Declutter our social feeds and media applications

Today we have a plethora of social media applications (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat), messaging apps(Whatsapp, Messenger, etc) and media apps(Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify, Hulu, Youtube) installed on our phones with tons of pages, subscriptions, and followers. But actually getting relevant content from them all is a task in itself.

We can start off with cleaning our social feed like unfollowing irrelevant pages, unnecessary followings and connections, clean or archive unnecessary messages on WhatsApp or other messaging channels and even restricting media apps to only one which provide proper content worth our time.

Just as we cannot have peaceful and good experience in unclean or messy homes, an unclean social feed or a large number of phone applications in our phones can have negative effects our moods and even mental health.

  • Remove unnecessary notifications

The worst thing about installing any new application on our phones is the irritating notifications that come along with it. Also, we have an uncanny habit of checking out all kind of notifications throughout the day. Not only can this hamper our day to day productivity but also disturb our general routine. Recent updates in IOS and Android have been geared towards preventing this technological blunder by giving us the ability to snooze or stop notifications from applications. Almost all social media apps have an option to stop push notifications and device alerts on events in settings. It’s a good idea to change them since the lesser number of notifications we receive the lesser number of times we unlock our devices to check them.

  • Focus on real-world experiences

The best way to find a balance between real and virtual world is to actually venture out and participate in local events, trips and hobbies. Every one of us has varied levels of interests in particular hobbies. In the quest to achieve virtual stardom or fame we might be sacrificing a lot of real-world hobbies and experiences. Matter of fact is no matter how many likes and upvotes we receive on social media…There would still be a hollow feeling left inside when you go back to bed. Instead actually focusing on hobbies, personal health, interests, and skills can go a long way in building a real-world connection and admiration among our peers.

Creating a balance between real and virtual world is a matter of personal choice and how much time should be devoted to any one of them still depends on our surrounding environment, occupation or educational background and also on daily peer to peer interactions. If we still try and devote some time to making a serious efforts towards creating that balance it can tremendously change our daily life and even have positive outcomes in the long run because your posts made on Facebook today might not be relevant in the long run, heck Facebook might have gotten replaced by some other popular and trending social media app in a few decades but if you step out and try to interact with people face to face, understand different perspectives from them chances are some of them will stick with you even after all those decades either meeting you in person or even as a friend in the next trending app that is yet to come because all these apps will come and go…The people you build real connections with will always stay transitioning from one app to another just like you would…

If you like the above article then do make an effort to actually find that balance, not for your current self but the version of you who will be formed in the next 10 years…

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