A Double-Edged Sword
Online connections can help us strengthen social relationships, develop new skills, and learn about exciting opportunities and fun meetings. On the other hand, it can also help us waste an enormous amount of time, get caught in negative exchanges or hurtful comments and increase our stress.
In this year of physical isolation and lockdown under COVID-19 safety protocols, the Internet has helped us to keep many of us in touch with friends and family through video chats and online meetings. It has supported remote education and allowed people to work safely from home. It has provided artists a way to express their art and reach their audiences. It has helped everyone to find community and share ways to cope with unprecedented change and deal with feelings. It has helped to spread important news about changing health guidelines, and systemic injustice – and given people a voice for positive change. However, it has also given many a forum for spreading hatred, negativity and unverified, false or misleading information.
Our experiences in this year of change and upheaval have strongly demonstrated the need to be mindful of how we use our time on the Internet and Social Media. It has been a powerful reminder of why it is essential to be mindful in use of online connectivty.
7 Ways to use technology intentionally
Here are some strategies for making sure you control your technology use, and not let it control you:
- Limit times to check email. Set 2-3 times a day to read and respond to your email. And turn off email AND notifications at all other times. Resist the urge to check in first thing in the morning and in the last hour before bed.
- Unsubscribe from all email lists or social media notifications/profiles that no longer serve you, cause you stress or distract you from things that you want to accomplish.
- Limit your time on social media. Choose the platforms that give you the most positive energy and inspiration and set a schedule. If you need to post regularly to multiple platforms for business or engagement, consider a scheduler that will manage your activity from one location
- Consider banning your phone from certain places or times of the day. For example, turn it off at mealtimes or ban it from the bedroom or bathroom. If you don’t have your phone in the same room, you’ll be a lot less tempted to check it.
- Turn off screens for an hour before bed. Take the time to read, stretch, talk to members of your family, spend time with a pet … unwind from all the outside information and settle your mind for sleep.
- Use social media and email to build your connections. Send a weekly email telling someone why you are glad that they are in your life. Text someone on your contact list to give them words of encouragement or let them know you are thinking of them.
- Find positive resources online to inspire controlled and supportive use of your online connection. Here is one example that I liked: 12 Rules for Navigating the Internet Effectively
These are a few of the things that have worked for me.
If you have other ideas that have made a difference for you, please share.
Now I’m signing off and going off line and outside. I hope you will do the same.