… and what that has to do with the Internet. Let’s take a look, shall we?
I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what kind of life you lead, where your responsibilities lay, your commitments, your work schedule, your agenda. I don’t know YOU, and yet I know OF YOU. You are a wife/husband/spouse; you are a (grand-)parent; you are a daughter/son or an -in law; you are a friend, a boss, a co-worker, a supervisor; you are single, dating, a student, a teacher, or you work the job mill at minimum wage. You are sick, healthy, strong, weak, a native or a foreigner, short, tall, thin, overweight, social or a hermit. In short, you are EVERYONE, and EVERYONE is you. I don’t need to put a label on you to know that of all the things money can’t buy, time is what you have the least of. We live in a 24/7 world that expects our presence and availability for the same insane hours. We want to be, need to be “online” always, everywhere – linked, connected, in the loop. Our lives are only experienced as fullfilling because they are, indeed, full. As a matter-of-fact, they overflow. Job, family, friends, social media, exercise, blogs, posts, news, headlines – every “event” facebooked, a picture taken of every more or less memorable moment and put on Pinterest or Instagram, we SnapChat, we WhatsApp, we Skype and Google ALL DAY LONG. Being virtually connected to the whole damn world has somehow become the mother lode. Its not even that we don’t have enough time; we just waste so much of it telling our Facebook friends that we have just bought condoms at the local drug store, that we will make lasagna for a romantic dinner, that we just spent an hour and a half getting ready for our date. Privacy is a term that no longer exists nor is it valued. We don’t want to privately get it on with our hot Tinder date – we want the WORLD to know. In the clusterfuck of social media we lose ourselves and we have forgotten what to actually do with time for ourselves other than be online. And we don’t even realize that that MAKES US SICK. We become socially inept people who can’t interpret their own emotions unless there us a thumbs up or down beside the post we just put on our profile. We get stressed, our brains go on overload – too much information too fast. We actually check our phones 200 times a day on average, and one in four people spend more time online than they do asleep. To add to that, 70 % of 16 to 24-year-olds prefer texting to talking and 34 % of adults and teenagers admit they find it hard to disconnect.
I will make a shocking suggestion: MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. I will tell you HOW. YOUR task is to log off. Switch off your phone. Put away your tablet. NOW WHAT? At a loss? Can’t think of a single thing you want to do (other than logging on again as quickly as possible of course)?
Why Solitude Is So Important And Why It Scares Us
I am promoting that you log off to seek a span of twenty minutes to an hour (at least) every day for OFFLINE SOLITUDE. Why? Solitude can be a break. It is a resort, a vacation for our minds and souls away from all the hectic and online chaos. We have forgotten to understand our need for solitude, to translate our bodies’ and minds’ signals into acknowledging a deep and true craving TO BE ALONE. Why is that? Nowadays we measure our success in terms of acquisition and accomplishment. The society we live in sports a huge complex about “being and keeping busy”. We live in a “get it done” culture. Most of us, to be honest, have the time we could devote to simple relaxation, but we don’t. We choose to convince ourselves that something always needs to be done, another email needs to be checked, another blog posted, another picture instagrammed, another social media friend of the 1213 that we proudly present on FB asks for our attention. Imagine telling all those friends that you are logging off, that you are now taking an hour for yourself and no, you won’t keep them in the loop as to what you are doing….. chances are you wouldn’t get a lot of support. More than we fear social shunning we fear ourselves, though. We actually go to any length to avoid ourselves because we are scared of what we might find when its just US with no one else around, OFFLINE, NO MAKE UP, RAW. Maybe, just maybe, we will see a forlorn, flawed someone. Maybe we will see someone with flaws and fears, someone imperfect, someone who we wouldn’t want to link ourselves to on Facebook…….
So, when we accidently DO look we convince ourselves that we see someone who, now that they are offline and alone, is missing out on life’s party. We choose to confuse solitude with isolation because we have actually forgotten HOW TO BE ALONE. Its a downright scary idea. Alone.
Have you ever watched a young child play by itself? They are content and self-sufficient, absorbed in their fantasy worlds, charmed by the stories they create inside their heads, their own company. They don’t need social affirmation or confirmation and they don’t need to be “liked” or “befriended” by a thousand nameless, faceless strangers. They actually like themselves, are proud of themselves, think for themselves. WHY CAN’T WE?
We have become what I call “online society dependant narcissists”. We think we are the world’s greatest and we just have to share it with everyone for it is only their feedback that will confirm our Status Quo. If all those people like us – what we post, our pictures, our online life diary – then thats enough for us to like ourselves, too. We don’t actually have to be great. We just have to make enough people believe that we are. Sad really, isn’t it???
I am not kidding. Take an hour a day to log off. An hour a day that you usually would have spent on the internet – now spend it with just yourself. What will you accomplish when you follow that admittedly scary and controversial advice? Let’s see:
- if our focus is on external stimulation only we miss opportunities for inner growth and renewal. We don’t think about our mistakes and accomplishments, we don’t learn from them. Focus on yourself and be amazed at how much you begin to understand or see differently
- we are scientifically proven more creative alone. Write, paint, sing, dance, create a flower bed in your yard … whatever comes naturally to you!
- solitude can cure. If you develop symptoms that your doctor tells you are not related to a grave physical illness and can’t really be explained, look for solitude. Meditate, reflect on your life. Listen to your body, attune yourself to your core, to your inner wisdom. What scares you? Moves you? What is on your mind when you are too scared to look? It wouldn’t surprise me if your symptoms miraculously vanish
- in solitude, we see more clearly. We are constantly pulled outside ourselves—by other people, by the media, by the demands of daily life. Nothing in our culture or in our education teaches us how to go inward, how to steady the mind and calm our attention. As a consequence, we tend to devote very little time to the life of the soul, the life of the spirit. Alone—in moments of prayer or meditation, or simply in stillness—we breathe more deeply, see more fully, hear more keenly. We notice more, and in the process, we return to ourselves
How To Actually Make More Time For Yourself
- Make time: sounds stupid, but can be done. Delegate, recruit your kids and spouse, re-evaluate how important stuff is.
Some Things you do won’t be perfect. Learn to live with that! Accept that you can’t get everything done. At a certain point every night, put everything down and focus on doing something you want
- Schedule in your free time. Hey, you make everyone else’s schedule – why not your own?? Put in a slot each day, or at least a few times a week, that are as solid as a work or family commitment. Block off an hour in the evening that you can’t break unless its an emergency
- LOG OFF and spend the extra time for yourself
- LOG OFF and instead of an hour on Facebook, do something in real life
- LOG OFF and exercise. It will make you feel better and give you more energy to stay up longer or get up earlier – hence more time in the day
- Prioritize yourself. Yes, your kids are important, your spouse is, your friends are. But PUT YOURSELF FIRST. You will be a happier and better parent, spouse and friend if you are a happier, healthier, stronger and more content person who is more in tune with herself/himself because (s)he actually dared to LOOK
Making time for yourself isn’t impossible. Stop hiding. Stop texting. Start looking, and start talking. You are real. Become real!
Thanks for reading and bearing with my ramblings again 🙂 If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or shoot me a PM @ firstname.lastname@example.org