Can less really mean more in the technological world?
Our modern culture of consumerism is increasingly taking over the way we live, the way we talk and interact with friends, colleagues and loved ones and even the way in which we think.
Many of us are tied to the internet, hooked on our phones, slaves to the latest trending topic on social media.
We can fill our wardrobes with clothes purchased remotely from an online store. We can download tens of thousands of songs on our smartphones for free with no desire to pay to see any of the bands.
There is no need to speak to the cashier at your supermarket, a few clicks on your laptop and your weekly shop is delivered directly to your door.
But with all these modern technological marvels, are we missing out? Is it time to scale it back?
UK regulator Ofcom recently commissioned a report that found that 59% of Brits consider themselves to be “hooked” on their handsets. Are you one of those people? Are you unable to have dinner without constantly checking for Twitter updates or Instagram like?
Not everyone though is giving in to the need to be connected to ‘the net’ every waking moment.
American comedian Ari Shaffir decided to ditch his iPhone over 14 months ago, when he began to see the amount of time he was wasting using it.
In a recent interview with the BBC (for which he was 20 mins late because he was performing in Edinburgh, Scotland and didn’t have a map app on his basic flip phone!) he detailed his reasons for getting rid of his iPhone.
He said; “I was noticing a lot of distraction on my part – constantly checking social media, not to mention email and text.”
“You need some of it for work and the rest is distracting you from doing your work. If you post a photo on Instagram you don’t need to watch the people saying, ‘Yeah I like it’ – people are constantly checking their ‘likes’.”
When he accidentally left it in the back seat of a taxi cab, he decided to make a stand. He wasn’t going to be hooked to the internet. He wasn’t going to use a smart phone. He would get a bog standard, flip phone, that would allow him to call people and send texts if necessary.
The change wasn’t easy. Shaffir claims the first six months were hard; “I felt withdrawal symptoms at first, kind of the way I felt when I quit smoking”, he said.
But eventually he broke his nasty habit and saw the benefits. Less internet time meant more time for him. Less browsing resulted in more work getting done.
He also sleeps better as he is less stimulated, he engages in conversation more now that he is not fidgeting on his phone in a bar, rather than talking directly to the person in front of him.
Giving up their smartphone is just one way that someone has decided that less is more, and to live more in the moment.
But there are many other choices we can make to remove unnecessary additions to our lives, in order that we can live happier existences;
1) How about limiting the amount of time you browse the internet? Are you someone who can be pulled down the ‘browsing rabbit hole’ Why not limit yourself to a set time each day?
2) Phone people rather than text. Many people have contracts that offer hundreds if not thousands of mins a month. Why not phone the person for a quick chat? You have an actual human interaction rather than pinging dozens of texts back and forth as you plan your night out!
3) If you are someone who needs to be constantly on the internet as part of their job, be mindful of what all that stimulation can do to your brain. If you are over stimulated, and need to have less thoughts racing around your head, take up meditation or yoga. Each is ideal for calming your thoughts.
4) Sometimes someone’s home life is a reflection of their mind. Is your house a mess with clutter everywhere? This can be reflective of how cluttered and messy your mind is. You would be surprised how cathartic a clear out of stuff you no longer need is. Giving away clothes you won’t or can’t wear anymore to a local charity store can help you make your living space more habitable again. And it’s nice to know that someone may be able to use them.