Pandemic Connection

It’s seemingly counter-productive to begin the process of retreating away from social media connectivity during a global pandemic.

100 years ago this wasn’t even a choice during the Spanish Flu, so there isn’t much to go off in terms of examples. I can’t find someone’s notes back then on how they avoided TikTok so they could spend more time with the family they already spend all their time with to begin with in rural Kansas or the French countryside in 1919.

Yet there I was in February of 2020 reading John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Pre-pandemic closure. This, a year to the month when I had just read Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism in February of 2019.

I’ve heavily sourced these books on this blog so far, but I feel it necessary to keep sourcing them for now to further solidify this blog’s purpose. They aren’t the only voices out their either, but they serve as massive catalysts for proper attention management thus far.

One of the things which gripped me early on in the pandemic having just finished Comer’s book on removing hurry and distraction from one’s life, was the selfish sensation of how convenient for the world to shut down for a week or two (side note: remember that notion back in March that this is just a mid-winter break and we’ll be back at it in no time?).

Regardless of the duration ahead of us all, I still couldn’t believe the timing personally for me. An opportunity to practice un-hurry and the easy yoke lifestyle.

I actually get to implement slowing down! I get to implement distraction removal and define what’s most important to me all over again! I don’t have to get stuck in traffic going to work!

Finishing this book as the shutdown began was like a check written to actually put into practice slowing down. Many of the points in his book discuss problems like multitasking, too many commitments, operating at a pace dictated by digital acceleration, and of course the perils of the digital landscape’s effect on our ability to practice being present.

But ditching or retreating from social media at a time when all relationships were becoming confined to whoever is in your household and the poor soul behind the checkout counter at the often panic stricken grocery store? It seemed counterintuitive.

We were all excited to share our banana bread recipes and stay ‘connected’ (connection is a poor substitution for actual human communication, noted by Newport, but here we were in overdrive staying connected from our isolation pods).

I recall the absurdity of being gleeful to throttle down my internet usage at the start of a global pandemic in the internet era with white collar work in front of me. But the momentum of the book was prodding me to finally give myself a reason once and for all to ditch platforms causing so much anxiety, bearing little fruit in growing real relationship, fanning the flames and precursor to greater ideological divisions, etc.

I have yet to remove myself from them. Had I early pandemic, my attention could at the least be spared of the relentless outrage machine driving people to hateful rhetoric and nervous breakdowns all summer, and now fall long.

The goal isn’t necessarily to abandon social media completely by the way. It’s to check myself and see how social media usage benefits my deep work commitments, how it potentially provides a benefit to my life’s mission, etc.

If it doesn’t yield fruitful gain, or like any tool is used incorrectly, then perhaps a time has come to retire it completely and put it on the shelf. Or at the least read some instructions like advice from the Center For Humane Technology.

My point here is to say, there has never been a better time to throttle your usage of the internet. To reevaluate how you spend your time in the digital landscape. To most certainly log off if all you feel is disgusted and worn out from the out of control outrage content pouring out in social media, forums, or news sites.

It’s never been a better time because if you ever wanted to slow down and become present to the life you’ve known you’re missing out on, today is the time. During a pandemic or during a super busy season in your life, now is the time to throttle back and assess your relationship to digital technology. Even if you are in isolation. Even if you feel you won’t remain connected.

Published by David Mieksztyn

I am a writer passing along what I've learned.

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