Survivor’s guide to information overload

Internet = information = browsing = countless hours. Everyone with access to the internet has experienced being unable to unglaze their eyes, unstick their hand from the mouse and stop the flow of drool. Now smartphones have victimized our necks and fingertips.In short, we get a free pass to Zombieland, without having being bit by one.

So how do we wake up, without a true love’s kiss?

Let go of the device. To be able to think without the net’s web wrapped around your mind, you will have to stop using the net. Get away from it, as far as you can, as long as you can.

Get out. There is no other place better to be, than outside. Go where nature abounds – parks with abundant greenery, lakeside/seaside. Heck, even your backyard or balcony would do. Nature revitalizes you like nothing else. Fresh air is food for your brain, greenery soothes your eyes, the serenity and rhythm of water brings you down to earth and in touch with reality like nothing else.

Reflect. The ingredients are ready, now prepare the soup. Take a few deep breaths, stop thinking of Miley Cyrus’ newest hairstyle and take in the reality around you. As your mind calms down, think about the countless unconscious decisions you make each day. This is the most important, yet most difficult step to take. Awareness and realization come from hours of introspection. The more you introspect, the more self-aware you become. Try to become aware of the way you spend your time, the food that you are feeding your brain. Once you get this, you are ready to take action.

Choices. We all know the good and bad that comes from screen time. If you feel the amount of time you spend on the internet is not healthy, choose to cut it down. Make a deliberate choice. In other words, choose – after a lot of deliberation. The moment your conscious and subconscious mind agree on this, you are set.

Decisions, decisions = slash, slash. The many headed-Hydra, which heads to cut, how many heads to cut? Cut with impunity, cut with disregard I say. Actually it won’t quite work this way. When you had made your choice about your internet usage, you will have had a vague idea of what you want to stop browsing first. Tackle those. You’ll keep some, you’ll remove some. Then you’ll take a power pose selfie and post it. And promptly fall flat on your face. Not to worry, it happens. Or you can go the Marie Kondo way – keep the few that give you joy and discard the rest in one go. Just keep repeating till you are satisfied with what you have.

Pull, not push. Push notifications are messages that are sent to us. Pull notifications is where we ourselves go hunting for information. To be proactive in our net usage, get rid of as many push notifications as you can. These tend to robotize us, by making us react to every alert we receive. Decide what paths you will pursue on the internet with a lot of thought.

Think fruitful. Run after information that is healthy and useful to you. Don’t go for informational, because literally everything on the internet will be informative.

And there you are, you’ve reduced the internet clutter in your life. A few pointers:

  • It’ll rarely happen that you can reduce your net feed to the crucial few at once. It takes a few iterations.You’ll decide to remove a few, and feel “Yes! this is it”. If you continue to reflect on yourself, months later you might again choose to discard a few more.
  • We do not possess iron wills. Chances are we will fall back to our old habits of consumption again. But that is the spice life – the strife towards becoming our better selves. So binge, get deflated and scramble back up. Keep striving.
  • Keep a set time for reading books on screen. While reading is wonderful, the screen is not your eyes’ best friend.
  • Apps and notifications – These are the evil masters who keep us on line. Turn the notifications off, uninstall as many apps as you can, which you feel are not useful.
  • E-mails – Unsubscribe from those various newsletters. Chances are if you did not receive those newsletters, you wouldn’t bother reading them on your own.
  • Extensions, tools and the likes – There are numerous tools available to help you with mass unsubscriptions, notification muters, blacklisting of sites for certain time of the day and so on.
    Social media – Twitter is amazing to get the latest news and gossip, Facebook awakens the inner sleuth (or snoop) in you and sharpens your stalker skills. Instead use them to share your life, try not to consume too often. They are addictive for a reason – and addictions are bad.
    Have a few high-quality information sources to follow, and forget the rest. And curate what you read from those high-quality sources.
  • Spice – Maintain a few guilty pleasures if you must, it’s fun. Halos are hard to wear, perpetually.
  • Obsessions – there comes a time when we obsess over something and burn our eyes and ears out. I say welcome it.
  • Rabbit holes – reading something we end up with 152 new tabs. Beware! and pay heed to those crossed eyes and flee.

Remember – Pull, not push, and think fruity.