Because of my slight obsession with Forest Gardens and compost heated showers (and LOTS more on those later) I’ve been using the Internet more than usual recently and it’s definitely having a negative impact on my state of mind – I’ve been feeling less in control of my life and distracted. It’s not just the lame personal advertising (and if I’ve just bought something, no I probably don’t want a duplicate immediately afterwards!) but also the distraction to other places, the Pointillism to coin a phrase used by Zygmunt Bauman – I start somewhere and end up somewhere else…. Fine if I’m allowing myself time to do this, but not if I have a purpose in mind first.
The last descreen/ meditation period I did was back in January of this year, and when I contrast my state of mind now to how I was back then when I was meditating 4 times a day, I was so much more centred : my basic rules were no screens in the morning or evening, except a quick email check, or if writing something specific. No idle surfing, no watching TV over dinner, and then basically an evening routine which went something like:
- Eat dinner
- Read if you must, preferably about Buddhism
Obviously I’m not against the use of the internet or screens, I am well aware that connectivity is necessary and even advantageous in my line of work, and the net’s great for new ideas, speed of access to info and the dreaded self-promotion. However I defo need to restrict it because it encourages all of the following negative traits:
It leaves no real time for actual people (not that I’m that into people anyway)
It encourages me to take a superficial approach to knowledge rather than a deep approach
It scatters my mind, it pulverizes my attention into tiny moments, leaving me adrift in an anomic sea of montage.
It exposes me to the great evil empire of advertising.
(Actually reading that lot perhaps I should just disconnect altogether?!?)
Because of the extreme negative traits uncontrolled net use encourages in me, I’ve developed the following guidelines to restrict my usage of it, and in order to promote mindful living! By screens below I really mean ‘net use’ – (I’m currently writing this off line, so this wouldn’t count for example).
Remember the ideal of the concentrated Buddha – Remember that I don’t need this internet shit!
Limit the amount of time online – Structure my day so it begins and ends without screens, and live the majority of time off-screen. This actually easier said than done given that my job involves a lot of screen use, so all I’ve got left is to make sure that the vast majority of time not at work is spent off-screen. To this end I’m endeavoring to check personal emails no more than twice a day (and respond to them) and try and have 30 mins of screen time in the evenings and at wknds max. In the holidays I’m going to try for 3/4 days totally offline.
Before going online I must have a clear purpose, a list of specific tasks I want to fulfill. I’m also going to time my usage to keep it down.
When online only have one window open at a time, unless I’m specifically cutting and pasting/ adapting.
Switch off PC and iPad at the end of the day and keep in the office, not the bedroom or living room.
Having written this, I feel more mindful already, and if yer reading this online, then see you not so soon in the future…