If I had one thing to tell myself right now, that would be it. Live intentionally.
What do I mean?
With the advent of ubiquitous portable technology, the internet, and companies profiting off of your attention, it’s become easy to drift off in what I call the “grey area.”
You step into the grey area when you find youself doing an action you didn’t really want to do, nearly inadvertedly. In the gray area you’re conscious, but not really. You’re repeating mechanical movements, doing things with rewards that are too small to be beneficial, but big enough to keep you going.
It’s ok to rest by scrolling Reddit. But did you really want to spend half an hour doing it? It’s ok to give yourself a break by watching YouTube videos. But did you really want to spend the whole evening like this?
People will spend their entire days in the gray area now, me included. When I close my eyes to sleep at night, and I realize I spent my entire free time not doing anything intentionally, a major sense of guilt washes over me. It’s a terrible feeling. Then the next day I sit down and do it again.
Just as I was writing this very blog post, my partner was scrolling Instagram a few meters away in front of me. Before writing this paragraph, I caught myself in the gray area again, captivated by her screen.
How do we save ourselves and recapture the intentionality that we’ve lost?
Deleting apps is a possible solution, since it makes it harder for us to access gray areas. Increasing friction between us and the things we shouldn’t do is a classic trms topic. That’s great, but when it comes to solving the “gray area” problem, I feel it just covers up symptoms of a deeper issue. The body needs a shock.
This shock could be provided by disconnecting completely from what distracts us. But like I mentioned in my Quiet Tech Toolkit, that’d be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. YouTube and the Internet in general are massively useful, disconnecting completely permanently would be a net loss.
So the solution I came up for now is to shock my body with an entire day (but just one) without Internet. This Saturday is the day. I’ll let you know how it goes next week and put the link to it here.