If you’re like me you scroll on Facebook and get lost on the internet more than you’d prefer to. Guess what – there’s nothing wrong with you! You can drop the guilt and drama and thinking and talking about how you shouldn’t look at your phone so much.
The problem isn’t you – it’s screens in general. They are highly addictive! And for different reasons, some of us need stronger boundaries than others around media use. Let’s just be real about that!
There are many ways to respond to your addictive pull and you will know what is the right response for you. Personally, I’ve tried coaching, accountability structures, focusing on my life purpose, different apps…. None of it was working. I gave up and gave in for months, until 3 things happened within a 2-week period.
Firstly, my friend told me that she’s not strong enough to have a smart phone. She was using a flip phone instead. That stood out to me because I experience her as a strong person in general… Secondly, I viewed a video on Facebook “by accident” of senseless violence that deeply disturbed me. I couldn’t get to sleep and I was crying. I was experiencing Facebook as evil! Then, a few days later, I saw one of my spiritual mentors imitating a person on a smart phone. I had this feeling of repulsion about my choices. So that was it. I came home and told my husband that I needed to downgrade, and even get rid of WiFi in our home.
“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.”
– Mortimer J. Adler
Here are the radical steps I’m taking and how this approach is finally working for me!
Step 1: Downgrade from a smart phone to a QWERTY phone
I got an unlocked QWERTY phone from Ebay for $49. They are also sold on Amazon. ‘QWERTY’ means it has the full keyboard, for ease of texting. I got one that does not have a slide-out feature so that I could get a case for it for extra protection. (The case I got is pretty cheap though. Not a lot of options, but that’s okay with me.)
Step 2: Get a free SIM card and sign up for a cheap ($10/mo!) plan with
TPO **UPDATE- TPO did not work for me after 3 weeks.**
Why TPO? It gets
good service, it’s cheap, my friend did the research so we don’t have to (haha), and also TPO donates 10% of what you pay them to the non-profit organization of your choice. Here’s a referral link! (And that’s not why I wrote this post.)
http://store.tpo.com/r/y3SlQUEkv4PBPeRr **Update- I don’t know if my phone was too old or if TPO did not provide strong enough signal to my home. But my phone would not work in my home. So, I reverted back to my old smart phone this week (12-5-17)! Hopefully it’s just temporary. I feel disinterested in searching for a new phone/service combo, at the moment. I’ll update here if I get something worked out.**
Step 3: Remove your deactivated smart phone from your home OR get rid of the WiFi
I am keeping my smart phone for a while due to wanting to use the non-internet apps, the camera, alarm, and it has all my contacts saved in it. It’s also a back-up phone for my husband should his current phone break.
If you keep your phone you might still be able pick up WiFi in your home. So, in my case I decided to get rid of WiFi. Years ago my husband and I already wanted to completely get rid of WiFi. We had set up a modem (which does not emit a WiFi signal) instead of a router, and an ethernet switch. An ethernet switch is a box that you can plug multiple ethernet cables in to and then send them to different places in your home. So we had the wiring and hardware all set up. The last step was to unplug and get rid of the WiFi transmitter. I can share more about all of these different devices if you write your questions in the comments. The bottom line is we have internet only through the ethernet cables. Woohoo! PS: There are adapters and things if you feel it could be a challenge for your home to exist without WiFi. Where there’s a will there’s a way. 🙂
# 3 MagicJack landline
Since I got the cheapest cell phone plan (500 minutes per month), I decided to keep and rejuvenate our MagicJack landline phone. It only works through the internet, but it’s nice for back up and for long phone calls. This MagicJack and phone # was already set up years ago, but I just needed to charge up the phone battery and dust it off. Cost is $37.50 per year.
# 4 Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook
I’ve been eradicating my Facebook newsfeed on my laptop through my Chrome browser for over a year. It’s been great! If I want to scroll I just scroll through my Pages feed (which tends to be positive and uplifting).
With Newsfeed Eradicator, when you click on “Home” you will not see a newsfeed to scroll through, you will just see an inspiring quote. You can add your own quotes or even messages to yourself!
# 5 Social Fixer for Facebook
You can hide posts from your newsfeed that contain certain keywords. I eliminated posts about politics, for example, because they are very sensational and were really sucking me in… The only problem is that the posts are not actually eliminated! They are collapsed under a gray bar that says “Post hidden by keyword.” So it kind of works, but it depends on your willpower if you can stay away from clicking on that grey bar.
# 6 RescueTime
The free version is VERY insightful! RescueTime tells you how much you use all of your applications and how long you visit websites. It reports all your usage on your laptop AND your smart phone. The paid version helps you block certain sites when you want to. I plan to strengthen my boundaries using RescueTime again. Haven’t used it in a bit. $54/year or $6.75/month for the paid version.
This could be a great first step to create awareness for yourself about how much time you’re spending doing what.
# 7 IFTTT
‘IFTTT’ stands for If This Then That. You can set up different kinds of If-This-Then-Thats. Check them out! I got a free “applet” from this site that works with RescueTime to block distracting websites after 10pm. I’ll be honest, it’s been turned off for months. Writing this post helped me to go turn it back on! So thank you!
With healthy boundaries and structures we are more likely to live with intention and aligned with our values. This is radical because if you’re living in the modern world, you will have noticed that we are being carried away by consumerism, materialism, busyness, etc etc etc. This world is strongly opposed to us simplifying our lives and focusing on what matters most!
It’s not easy to slow down and create space. You will be swimming against the mainstream. It could even be inconvenient. People might be upset and not like it…
Yet it’s a form of self-love to create firm boundaries for one’s self. Initially I felt anxiety to make these changes. However, afterwards I felt confidence and relief. I feel more free and less like a slave.
You know how it’s not helpful for an alcoholic to be around alcohol? Same thing here for me with smart phones and WiFi and internet and social media. I bet this is true for some of you too…
Think of your vision and mission for your life. If you feel addicted to screens and want create boundaries for yourself, which support structures are inspiring to you?
Also — have you ever calculated how many hours and days you are wasting in a year’s time? Here’s a formula for you to check out the numbers:
_____ hours wasted screen time per day x 365 days per year = X hours wasted per year
X hours divided by 16 hours (1 whole waking day) = _____ WAKING DAYS IN A YEAR WASTED
So, if you are wasting 2 hours per day on a device, that’s 45.6 16-hr waking days in a year. Yikes!
Thanks for reading my post. I’d love to hear from you if you’re implementing any of these strategies or other ones! Let me know if I can help you.
I’ll leave you with some inspiring quotes:
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
– Alice Walker
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”
– Anne Frank
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
– Anaïs Nin
“Rule your mind or it will rule you.”
“There’s a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever.”
– Neil A. Fiore