On Digital Minimalism and the Art of Self Discipline

I quit social media for three weeks now. I had returned from a vacation from the first world country and while I cared a lot about what the world was going through, it was such luxurious pleasure to be far away from all the negative, un-happy things that were happening back home.

New Hampshire, August 2018

New Hampshire, August 2018

I had long been planning a digital detox, even before I left but I discovered that all the local events back home didn’t bother me as much when I was lounging in a hammock, reading a book, studying neuroeconomics and being in the comfortable presence of my family. For two weeks, I was on a high, I felt completely very different, like I was a perpetually happy person walking on clouds, despite being affected by the delay caused by the Xiamen Airlines runway mishap, despite ruining my luggage for bringing home weights, despite many things that came in my way, I was just happy and untouchable until well, a week after being home and things are, well, a lot bleaker than previous two weeks of my life.

I realized, that I can’t control the unfolding of news, current events, the traffic, the inflation, people whose issues, rants and voices I couldn’t care less but I could control what I could consume. It started out as a muting spree, I abused the mute button of my Instagram account, unfollowed people whose tweets didn’t matter to me, un-connected LinkedIn connections and eradicated my newsfeed.

It started out as muting of certain accounts on Instagram {try it, it’s refreshing}, cleaning up my Twitter following list and my Facebook newsfeed.

I decided that I only wanted to stick to LinkedIn but in order for me to stick to it, I needed to remove all the HR practitioners I accepted haphazardly into my network. I used to not care about my LinkedIn feed, I barely checked it except for when updating my work details. After two weeks of using it as the only gateway to the world, I realized how much curated the content can be.


And that felt so good.

I realized that if I could only choose what I could consume, life wouldn’t be so negative, wouldn’t be so bleak. I thought that it wasn’t because things were bad back home, it was because I kept paying attention to the wrong things. And that it was called paying attention because attention is a currency that we give to things, people, news, and we can’t get it back. I decided that I wanted freedom and agency of where I put my attention so I deleted the social media apps on my personal phone, kept them only on my work phone which I don’t use unless I’m mobile and need to respond work chats.

For three weeks, I only had LinkedIn on my personal phone, consumed whatever people I followed shared {ie. Arianna Huffington, Sophia Amoruso, and other inspiring women leaders} which were very career and goal oriented. I didn’t necessarily feel always inspired but the topic I see are almost always guaranteed to not make me feel bad or ill or sick to my stomach. This manner of filtering allowed me to know what’s coming at me and prevented me from wasting my attention at things and posts that are silly or of little value.

  1. I learned that I could live without it, for the most part.

    I learned that even if my work had to do with social media and the digital world, I didn’t necessarily need to submerge myself in the murky world of Facebook. I needed to rely on my data analytics skills to strengthen my social listening skills without infecting myself with the negativity of the world. During those three weeks, I worked hard on studying business analytics and data. I could get my fill of news from the news sites itself, without emotions bias, as real journalism should be and I could get all my articles on my favorite app, Medium and Flipboard. Now, how to mute people in real life? #JK #BlackMirrorIRL

  2. I learned that I had better control of my focus and my attention.

    Disabling my social media accounts on my phone meant that I could no longer default into Instagram, Facebook or Twitter when I wasn’t doing anything ie. waiting at meetings, waiting for the elevator to hit ground floor, taking a break from work — I didn’t need the unnecessary notifications, and also because I couldn’t rely on my personal control, so I had to be hard on myself and delete the thing.

  3. Withdrawal and the Value of Approvals

    Social media not only provides a window into the unfiltered minds and thoughts of others, it’s also a sytemized way of getting approvals in the form of views, clicks, likes, loves - name it, it’s a never ending well of validation. I admit I felt like “something” was missing some days but once I was aware of what it was, it didn’t take too long to adjust that it was something that I needed to detox my life from.

  4. PR in Real Life is Harder Work

    What I missed out in making connections online, I tried to make up for offline and damn, was it hard. I used to rely on my social media to do the job of talking about me without actual talking.

  5. I learned how to savor a moment, be in the now.

    And it was priceless.