This flyer highlights a key problem in our overworked culture.
I spotted this flyer while I was at Natural Grocers the other day and it was just perfect timing as I’d recently spent a few hours listening to a podcast about, ironically, digital minimalism. At first glance, it seems perfectly innocent. We can all relate to weary, dry eyes that just don’t want to focus after all day on our computer and phones. A natural supplement that can help? Sign me up!
We’re so conditioned to think this way that we don’t really see the insidious concept it illustrates. This flyer is telling us not to listen to the warning signs that our body is giving us: that we are spending too much time online. Instead, it’s promising us a miracle cure for the symptoms we are having. Even better, this cure is natural, so it has to be good for us.
Our society does this all of the time. It teaches us not to listen to our bodies and minds. The body is awesome at giving us warning signals. Eating too much rich food? That’s what this awful indigestion is telling you. Been hunched over your computer too long? Your aching shoulders and neck are complaining. When you listen to the warning signals from your body, and change positions, or take a break, or choose the marinara instead of the alfredo, you don’t suffer. It’s basic cause and effect.
However, in a consumerist culture, instead of listening to the warning signals and making changes that truly benefit us, we are encouraged to buy something we don’t really need, and that may not actually help. The great majority of illnesses facing us today are preventable by making healthy lifestyle choices. That takes time, work and dedication, though. The tempting marketing messages of products that mask our bodies’ natural warning systems (symptoms) offer us a shortcut to disregarding messages we really should be paying attention to, and implementing changes to prevent. Other people are getting rich from selling us ways to enable our unhealthy behaviors.
Cutting back on digital time is a real challenge and takes prioritization, planning, and dedication. It’s all too easy to allow ourselves to be overworked and addicted to the endorphin reward system of social networks. We feel terrified we are missing out on something important (FOMO) or just don’t know what to do with ourselves if we were to unplug.
One thing I’ve done recently to reduce my digital time is to read in the evening before bed, rather than watching TV. I thought it would be tough to do, but it’s been great! I’ve had more time to get to those books that I’ve been wanting to read, and outside of a few really outstanding shows, most of what I was watching was utterly forgettable and a waste of time.
Another thing I’ve been trying to do, sometimes more successfully than others, is to leave my phone in another room. When I am up taking a break from what I’m working on, I’ll go check it, and reply to messages. I uninstalled apps that aren’t of a purely functional nature, so I’m less tempted to start scrolling through things and lose track of time.
Here are some resources I’ve come across lately that support what I’m talking about here. Let me know what you think and I’ve love to hear ways that you are paying attention to your body’s signals and minimizing your digital time!
Digital Minimalism Resources:
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newton.
The Minimalists Podcast: Episode 173 Digital Clutter
Listening to your body’s warning signals:
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
General good advice about slowing down and living a meaningful life:
Making the Good Life Last: Four Keys to Sustainable Living by Michael A. Schuler