Hi, I'm Hailey. Follow me on my journey in becoming my most authentic self through limiting the use of digital technologies. #100Days
18,672 words

Moving forward

A lot of my perspective has changed since the last blog post, which was around 3 months ago. I'm starting to see the use of digital technology in less of black or white terms, as I historically have in my posts: the phone and internet addict, wired into the constant happenings of the world is hopeless, uninspiring, robotic, fake, and a complete drone to our hyper-capitalistic society. While the nature-loving, "rewilder" is humane, full of force and spirit, strong-willed, productive, and desirable. 

Not entirely true, and achieving the technology-free archetype won't be as satisfying or gratifying to my life as I think it may be. The techno-industrial system is impossible to escape, despite what Ted Kaczynski claims. Sure, it may destroy itself, but destruction is inevitable with everything, and I doubt it will occur before I'm old and ready to die anyway. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft -- they're here to stay. 

I don't need to get rid of my smartphone and my laptop. I need to get goddamn disciplined. And technology can help me make this an easier and more effective endeavor. 

What I've stopped doing

  • I've stopped idolizing the off-the-grid lifestyle. I still fantasize living on a quiet, moderately-sized piece of land surrounded by nature, but you're damn sure I'm having some form of Internet access when I get there. Don't get me wrong - I'm still highly cynical about the dystopia we live in, and the kids in my generation who are out-of-touch with reality and distracted by petty things...but the Internet...it's an invaluable resource.
  • I've stopped trying to downgrade all my technology just for the sake of downgrading. I spent a month with a Nokia 2720 Flip. I like the thing - how it feels nostalgically, the buttons... but it's highly inconvenient. If I'm gonna have technology around, it ought to serve me a purpose. I told people I had a flip phone and they send me long ass texts regardless, expecting me to send a long ass text back. Some of my voicemails didn't come through. Google Maps didn't provide live directions, and I was unable to install important apps such as Calm (meditation app) and Garmin Connect (for my fitness watch). Couldn't even get a podcast app either (which I don't see as important, but I see it as a better, more fulfilling form of entertainment). Plus, it didn't even decrease my screen time -- my problem relies in surfing on my LAPTOP, not my PHONE. I hardly ever spend time on my phone. I spent less than an hour on my iPhone today. 
  • I've stopped hiding away from major corporations for the sake of anonymity and digital privacy. As stated in the last bullet point, technology I've since gotten from the last time is an iPhone SE (1st gen) and a vivoactive 3. Apple and Garmin, massive data-collecting tyrants! I even took advantage of the Windows education license my school gives me, the entire Microsoft Office suite, and OneDrive to store all my notes! I even have a Google account for its.... *gasp* ....calendar (and offline maps)! I'm finding that in order to live a low-tech lifestyle, you need to be able to utilize technology efficiently. And efficiency has trumped privacy for me - I'd rather not spend more time encrypting my files, and fussing around with some sub-optimal free/open-source software, and just DO THE THING I need to do, with whatever software is easiest and makes the most sense to use. However -- I'm still very much anti-social media, and I don't see myself ever making an account on any platform whatsoever. I don't have an Amazon account either, and have no plans to support that company also. Although I have a Google account, I don't use YouTube at all. I don't music or video stream and prefer to have my files saved offline.

What I'm continuing doing

  • I'm continuing the idea of a digital detox. Cold Turkey Blocker has since updated its software with a variety of lock options and other settings. Right now, I'm blocking all social media, Reddit, YouTube, and other forums I frequent sometimes. I'm blocking online shopping platforms, such as Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy -- though I don't plan on EVER buying anything from Amazon again, it's easy to get swept away without an account, browsing at all the products they have in their catalog. After 8pm, I block all browser use except websites related to schoolwork.
  • I'm continuing the idea of deep work. I'm unsure if I ever blogged about this before, but Cal Newport, to me, is a productivity inspiration. I'm taking online summer classes so I can graduate earlier, and the idea of undistracted and focused periods of study is crucial to me getting work done. This includes keeping my space tidy, reducing the threats of distractions, and planning out my tasks for the day.
  • I'm continuing exercise and meditation. Self-explanatory.

What I've started doing

  • I've started doing therapy. The turn of events that followed quarantine had me into a mess. I've spent a lot of time thinking and feeling a lot these past couple of months. It helps having someone to talk about your complex, spiraling, confusing inner-universes. It's easy to delude yourself when you are alone.
  • I've started paying less for my phone bill. Though I said my phone wasn't much of a problem anyway, I downgraded my phone plan and now I pay $10/mo. for 500 texts, call minutes, and MB of 4G data. On an iPhone! It's pretty rad, saving money and all. I don't need a lot of minutes for texts now considering more than half the people I know use iMessage, and I don't text or call much anyway. The data is only for emergency use and I never turn it on.
  • I've started doing. Yes, this summer I'm attempting to not be a lazy sack. I'm working on optimizing and organizing my life with various productivity tools. I'm into the quantified self movement, as I like seeing charts and graphs about my personal habits. I'm doing summer reading programs, journaling. I'm taking classes and getting ideas about my next steps after college. My family takes me out to drive and I finally will take the driving test to get my license in the near future. I'm slowly modifying my diet to be more supportive of my fitness goals (currently doing couch to 5k!)

Basically, life is always a work in progress. Don't get me wrong, I'm super bored for the majority of the day. But I'm open to try new things, explore, and I'm becoming more comfortable with who I am. I took the 16personalities test, which I have done in the past -- I've always tested as an INFP, but I took it again a couple of months ago and I'm now consistently an INTP. Although some may say it's pseudoscience, I'd say it provides a pretty accurate insight into who I am, what I do, and how I interact with others. My new 'label,' as it may be, is a lot fitting to me, and it's helped me make these recent changes. Often, when it comes to self-improvement, we try to match the habits of another, but cognitively it simply is near-impossible to become this idealized, workaholic figure who you thought you could be after reading a self-help book. And the same goes for this idea of a forest fairy, tree-hugging Neanderthal that I thought I could be, after severely limiting the use of technology. Ah, well. 


I returned from the farm two days ago, but have been avoiding updating the blog. It’s not that it was a disappointing experience, but rather, the opposite — there simply is TOO much to say. Plus, I don’t like the idea of having to update something on a screen everyday, which is what I’m trying to get away from... in any case —

This farm was a living example of the reality I’m attempting to make for myself. Everyone there is connected to the natural world, and not the fake, fabricated, digital world that the majority of us esteem to be our “God.” They’re able to identify species on the local ecosystem, forage for food, grow their own food, and cook the healthiest meals with the bare necessities. They’re all athletic, as they do physical labor for the majority of their day, and have active hobbies such as archery or hiking. They use technology sparingly, as to contact each other or order equipment online. There’s no TVs. They listen to informational podcasts about health and ancestral living; they listen to what I deem “good” music made with real instruments and not with repetitive MIDI chords and nursery rhyme lyrics and melodies (I’m a longtime hip-hop fan, but it’s hard to be in this day and age...), dance, and sing along. 

What I primarily helped with was seeding in the greenhouse, harvesting, and pruning trees. I’ve spent more time outdoors for that week than I have this year, probably! I even biked to a nearby trail and allowed myself to explore. It was hard work. But I appreciated the experience even more when I got home, where it’s too easy to give in to addiction as it spurs from everything in the city...

I do miss how quiet it was, how I could hear and see the birds, instead of engines running. I ate nutritionally well for that week and actually cooked, as they didn’t have a microwave and I was forced into it by necessity. I looked out my window and saw trees, instead of daily commuters to work.

I think the experience as a whole has me slowly reorienting my life towards the natural world and away from the grasp of the digital one. I got a good deal on a book and CD set that’s a field guide of local birds, plants, and trees, and I aspire to become a sort of naturalist. I’m unsure if I disclaimed this in a previous post, but one of the games I used to play was RuneScape; now, for once, I’m setting out to learn the skills I maxed-out in game: martial arts (combat), farming, spirituality (prayer), agility, etc.

One of the workers there told me that when he was younger, he was addicted to World of Warcraft; one day, he decided to set it down and buy foraging books, doing it in real-life. It was inspiring to me, because he was especially knowledgeable on the environment and plant biology and a lot of it went over my head but it was always nice talking with him. It also appears we share the same story. I wonder if there’s a lot of us out there, young addicts of social media or video games who become ‘addicts’ of nature instead? Except, I’m not yet addicted to nature...I’m still craving the laptop, the junk food, the comfort...it will be awhile until the body or lizard brain follows suit after the mind.

I weep for my youth, my childhood, particularly because I have to be making this shift so ‘late,’ or at least what I consider to be late. I’m 20, and people often say you don’t need it all figured out, but then throw on obligations on you in which you DO need it all figured out. It’s hard making a transition to a lifestyle I know nothing about...it’s much easier to stay on the path I’m on, surrounded by familiarity, but I will regret it if I do. I weep for all children and teens who spend those crucial years as I did, not exploring, not becoming acquainted with nature. It’s no wonder empathy is a dying trait. It’s hard to empathize with something not real.

Becoming comfortable with doing nothing (Digital Detox Day 27)

I've been finding it hard to relax the past couple of days, simply sitting in my room and enjoying the silence and my still presence. This is something I used to be able to do but now I get anxious; I can attribute going out on the trails to this feeling, this restlessness. Not that staying indoors all day is good for me, but I don't necessarily like feeling urges to escape when I'm supposedly in a source of comfort and safety. And I haven't been doing the offline activities I set out to do -- reading, playing guitar, drawing, meditating, having a cup of tea -- which ought to be relaxing for mind and body. It's almost as if I go out on the trails in a quest of desperation, of avoidance of reality. But I ultimately need balance. I need to find a way to be able to criticize the modern world while still participating in it and not go crazy.

Thus, I don't plan on doing much today. I started reading Walden this morning and I can already tell it's going to be a life-changing book. I love the whole concept of simplicity, but my problem is that I overthink and over-theorize. I need to get out of my head and just be. Breathe. Slow down. Though obviously the modern way of living is not beneficial to our health, it's not like I'm going to suddenly live like a hunter-gatherer. But I can still live with nature in a way I find suitable. With peace. And not allowing external circumstances to fluctuate my mood or sway my thoughts. Like Thoreau!

I've been making my room into the sanctuary I wish for - I did a little DIY and removed the futon legs from my futon. Now it's just a mat on the floor and I got some of the best sleep in weeks last night. I replaced my computer chair with a yoga ball. I'm still in the process of donating and selling off the majority of my posessions, which will probably take a while. It's easier to accumulate than it is to give away.

With the whole quarantine happening, you see folks rushing to get things done with all the new time on their hands - but if this were a regular weekend, I wouldn't be doing much. This is why I'm slowly transitioning to see what my priorities are. How will I spend my time the next couple of months, which is completely open to however I plan it? And the answer is, I have no idea - there's so much in this world we can do, it's overwhelming, these possibilities...

Maybe, the best thing for me to do would be to not do anything at all, but to conquer the mind (of course, I'm going to keep up the workouts and trail walks but what if the majority of my time was instead spent meditating...?)

Tomorow, I depart for a farm where I'll be spending a week helping prep for the upcoming season. It will be a much needed break from the bustle of the city, a place where I will be doing things, but also have the inner and outer peace I long for. I won't be updating the blog. I'm not bringing my laptop. Today, it's up to me to finish my homework and other engagements online before saying goodbye to them for a full week. Which honestly isn't that long - though I've been spending a lot of time in front of screens, I don't know why - I'm so tired of them! I want something different! They don't hold my attention like they used to. 

Yesterday I dropped one of my classes without remorse. I'll have a 'W' on my transcript. I'm coming to terms with the fact that college isn't really for me but I'm gonna go through with it anyway. I'll probably end up changing my major again, and taking the bare minimum to be considered a full-time student. But now that I don't have to go on campus... I don't have to think too hard about it. I'm free! And I'm tired of being stressed...I want to start being grateful.

The Human Condition (Digital Detox Day 26)

Though I've been on a digital detox, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts, watching videos, and reading blogs on rewilding. I'll make an exemption for that, because I'm in a transitory period right now. My mindshift about life is changing like never before and the information I've been finding the average person doesn't know or care about. My addiction to screens, on an individual level, might've had to do with my avoidance and depression. But collectively, it's one of many vices that surmount from "The Human Condition." See here.

I like this image a lot. It's like a tragic comedy. Ironically, it reminds me of the format of those "virgin vs. chad" memes from 4chan. 99.99% of us (including myself) are the beta modern human on the right: slaves to modern society, attempting to solve our problems caused by it with solutions offered to us by the same system. For example, I thought that by taking antidepressants I could "cure" my depression. Or by getting a good job and keeping involved in school I could "cure" my internet addiction. But they're all one in the same thing. I never once considered the environment I was in, the environment we're ALL in. I worry for America, especially its cities. Because I know they all got the same bullshit.

Light example, but today on a walk to the library, I see a group of 4-5 city workers standing around, each holding a leafblower, blowing around a SMALL pile of leaves on a WINDY DAY. So that's where my taxpayer dollars go! Now multiply this example in scale and impact and voila, you've got America! Full of nonsense and meaninglessness. 

Now, I don't necessarily look like the dude on the right, but I sure feel how he would feel. And I'm sure a lot of us do. After learning about the harm the modern environment does to us, I have urges to escape, but there's no where really to go...at least not now. All that's left for me to do is get my mind in order, as the Stoics would suggest, and not to blame the environment while remaining stagnant. But it is a little too easy to lose your mind in all the noise. It's designed this way. But I will try, nonetheless.

The absurdity of life (Digital Detox Day 25)

Today was the last day of having class in-person for the next month, or potentially 2 months. The whole day I was in a negative mindset, because I have a hunch that my GPA will drop drastically as a result of all this; I'm in disbelief that I'm forced to get an online education though I pay for a LOT for a tuition that specifically isn't. I'm distressed at the fact that I'll be spending a lot of time sitting, indoors, eyes burning from staring at my laptop. I passively watched as I saw the connections I made with professors and classmates this semester wither away...and now, they've released us into the wild with no guidance whatsoever. Great. The only thing giving my life structure has vanished before me in an instant. I gotta figure out what I'm gonna do, and soon. But this could prove to be an opportunity - I could, for example, structure my life around my physical and mental wellness and have school simply be a sidepiece, and accept the fact that I'm not ending the semester with all A's. And that's what I'll probably end up doing, I just need to figure out HOW: when am I waking up? when am I working out? when am I doing school stuff? etc. etc.

I almost didn't even go on my run today because I was stressed by the whole thing; and then my mind started going off on a tirade, on the way home: "this city SMELLS" or "the bus always has these CRAZY ASS PEOPLE" or "why are they always BUILDING some damn thing?" Earlier there was a pair of girls walking to class; one turned to the other, and said: "I had my AirPods in but I forgot to play something haha" as if it was a JOKE?! Uhh it's called common courtesy if you're spending less than 5 minutes walking to class with a friend, you could enjoy their company silently or perhaps engage in conversation?!?! It's wild because my campus is pretty small and compact and I see people with AirPods in EVERYWHERE. Bruh, you've been going to classes back to back and you can't have a five minute gap to refresh your brain? You gotta fill it with some trash or overload it with even more information? And don't even get me started on my run -- first off, this asshole was leisurely smoking on the trail, damn near polluting the last sparse source of clean air in this place, and then there was this other guy, who I was running past VISIBLY in my running gear and he asks, "hey, do you have a cigarette?" Yes, here I am, running, with a whole pack of cigs in my pocket right at your disposal! And then everything comes together - my school is kicking me out because some folks in China thought it was a good idea to eat some bats; everyone around me appears to be utterly mindless of the impacts of their actions on others; and "life" as society describes it is absolutely absurd. 

My blog started out innocently - I certainly wasn't as radical as I am now, 24 days later, but life is ABSURD, nothing can describe anything, and I am beginning to care less and less about all this superficial bullshit man. And I don't think that makes me a better person than anyone else, because I'm still a "slave" to the same things they are. And if I wasn't, I'd want to find a way to help, but I know they probably wouldn't listen. I know because people have given me advice in the past that I'm just now coming around to, years later. Either way, it feels good to open your eyes and realize how much really doesn't matter. What we take seriously should actually be what we take least seriously, sometimes. I know in the long haul, that I'm not gonna have a conventional way of life - full-time job from 9-5, house, car, 2 weeks of vacation spent at the beach, blah, blah. And I feel that as a society, we're beginning to notice how absurd that sort of life is, but then we still live our lives according to a template that's similar? We're not really breaking away from the familiar, and that's what we need to advance. Or at least, that's what I need. 

It's really happening (Digital Detox Day 24)

My classes are being held online at least for the next month...I am screwed. The past few weeks I've been putting minimal effort into projects and doing homework the day of. I have an exam tomorrow I was going to make a Quizlet for but now it's too late where I'm past the point of even trying. I'll probably just review my notes for a half hour in the morning and wing it. It's awful, these habits. And I know I'm going to spend a lot of time suffering for the next month if I don't get it together. But every time I look at this laptop...I feel repulsed by it. I'm much more likely to finish things when it's physically in front of me. But when it's online, it's several realms away. That's the excuse I tell myself, anyway. It's true, but it's not helping me much. No one's gonna keep me accountable except myself, but I'm not doing that great of a job at that. 

I didn't go for a run today, and in hindsight, I kind of regret it. I'm definitely going tomorrow. I did a light dumbbell workout in the basement but...it's not the same. I don't feel fulfilled right now because I hardly spent time outside - by spending the majority of your days inside, you lose sight of what actually matters - because the laptop on the desk which I should be using to get my work done, or the TV in the living room with its neverending streams of information do not matter to me. Like I said, I was ready to junk this gosh darn laptop before I realized that I "need" it; not my soul's "I" but the "I" who operates in society, who attends an institution. We definitely need to make this distinction...because who I am when I'm on the trails and who I am when I sit in class are arguably two different people. And that's what makes it so hard to follow one path, because of outside influence, and the different selves that we occupy in a given space...

I don't even know what's going on anymore - in this world, with myself. What a mess my life has been recently. I'm so disorganized, I hate the standard way of life, I don't know how to make an alternative for myself, the work keeps piling up...

I'm also debating if I should keep this blog or not, as since I've started it, I've stopped writing in my journal, and the fact I need to type these posts digitally is completely backwards to my mentality; I thought keeping things online would hold me accountable but literally no-one but yourself can do that. And I've reached the point where I'm discovering new ideologies, and stopping the browsing of the Internet is more a symptom of my goal, which is to rewild -- to explore nature, to become more in touch with my roots, to remove society's domestication that holds me hostage to my addictions (the internet, sugar, sweets, comfort, laziness).

Just next week I'm volunteering on a farm; I've done it once before, and it was a great experience. I spent a lot of time outside, getting sunlight, interacting with animals, getting a natural workout in by the transport of hay and harvesting vegetables. I told someone I was going to spend my spring break doing that, and she made a face -- "don't you get dirty?"

Uhh, duh! Obviously it was a rhetorical question but the fact that we as an advanced society see ourselves as pure, clean, intellectual, all that bullshit, turns us away from what historically, as a species, has made us happy - physical activity, tribal community, healthy food, etc.

I have spent so much of my time "self-improving" in the realm of becoming more 'productive' and 'smart' but it never worked. And finally when I was able to reframe it as a way of returning to my roots, I've been able to work out for a few days in a row, which, is quite impressive. See, in the past, I would set up a schedule (going to the gym 3x week and doing nothing the other 4 days), because lifting every day would kill the gains, and we need rest days, but do you think the cavemen had REST DAYS? I'm not working out to look good, which is a half-assed reason in my opinion - it won't work for me. I don't care about being super attractive, I care about being healthy, capable, fit. Man sometimes when I really get to thinking about it, everything around me is just a facade! Can we please wake up?! What happened to our values?

I'm honestly losing my mind, and I have no time to lose my mind, and spend hours simply thinking to myself because I have all this damn homework I gotta start on that literally does not concern me right now. I am in the midst of a mental breakthrough, honestly. I am questioning literally every single societal norm and breaking it down step by step. I just want to spend the next couple months pondering. But I cannot; I keep getting interrupted! 

There's this podcast I've been listening to, and he repeatedly refers to life as The Matrix, and I know it sounds edgy, but it could not be further from the truth. All those edgy 14 year olds that you might've known in high school were ONTO SOMETHING, they just weren't able to convey it with logic and theoretical reasoning - their hormones and puberty just makes them seem overly emotional, but... they are right, nonetheless!

This blog post is long, and I want to watch this French movie tonight to "study" (my exam tomorrow is for French, and that's a habit I've gotten myself into...to "study")

But yeah I don't know. life is crazy.

Screens = brain sugar (Digital Detox Day 23)

I've been getting in this bad habit of posting late, because I've been staying up later, most likely the result of spending time messing around on the gosh dang laptop. It's like I lose track of time. I got home today, went on my run, and then as a reward, decided to spend hours on YouTube. @self -- No! What do I need to do, shock myself? So Cold Turkey Blocker is back, once again banning YouTube and Reddit! And I know I'm not enthusiastic about getting school work done, but this is how it's been going these past couple days: have an assignment due the day of. Get a workout in before. Procrastinate by surfing the web. Do the assignment late in the night. Go to bed after not doing the millions of other things I could've done to wind down, like cleaning my room, playing my guitar, reading. I haven't really done much personal reading recently for this reason, because I push off my assignments by procrastinating which also pushes off my free time. Because why would I procrastinate with healthy habits when the web is at my fingertips? I've broken this digital detox so many times I feel guilty when I increase the counter by one in every blog title. I think I'm gonna have to reset as soon once I get my life sorted out...because I certaintly didn't really make it this far. Yeah I've been working out but I'm not where I thought I'd be. Where I thought I should be, for this far in the detox. I still splurge hours on YouTube, even though I know better.

Not much to say today either. I might've had more to say had I simply posted after my workout and proceded to get some of my growing pile of homework done, but after numbing my mind I've become thoughtless. So there's that. I actually did have this thought, during my run, that it wasn't going so well. And that's because I filled my body up with crap beforehand. That's how I feel now, trying to write this post. I was watching meme compilations beforehand and now I'm trying to think of something wise and thoughtful but it's not going so well. Screens are a bunch of brain sugar. I have cravings for the screens just like how I do for junk food, and they're both hindering my personal growth. 


I took a break from this post because my mom wanted to tell me to check my email after something she saw on the TV. Looks like some of my classes will be moved online, and spring break is extended until further notice b/c of Coronavirus. This may or may not be a good thing, but either way... YEET YEET YEET YEET (I yeet in response to the longer spring break, but...the shift to online is PROBABLY going to kill me. We'll see how that goes)

A fool (Digital Detox Day 22)

"Hi, I'm Hailey, and I'm a fool." "Hi, Hailey" the group groans in unison. All the fools, including myself, are sitting in a circle of chairs at the daily Fools Anonymous meeting.

As if I could escape this laptop. I got to my first class today, and then realized there's a whole ass research project that I haven't started, and is due by this Friday. I didn't take into consideration the fact that I'm lazy, especially when it's about things I don't care about. And not much, especially not homework, is going to drag my butt out of my room to go sit at a computer lab to get my work done. Nope. So here I am, stuck with the thing, and straight up not having a good time! One compromise I have made is that I'm not bringing it to school with me. I'm taking notes manually. And whenever I'm not using it, it's going in the drawer out of sight. If I see my laptop on my desk, I'm going to be gravitated towards it, more tempted to scroll. Out of sight, out of mind. 

I have a 45-minute break between classes on campus, and it's during that brief period of time when I feel extreme angst. I realized, staring at my binder, that my existence here, was ultimately meaningless. I don't even know how I'm still in college. EVERYDAY I feel existential dread. Like what am I even doing with my life? Unfortunately, all I've ever been good at during the entirety of my life was getting good grades and I have no other skills to help me escape. So there's that.

If I wasn't doing college right now, I think I'd be working part-time, finding a group to volunteer with, and attending dharma sessions at near-by Buddhist centers. I'd also be able to read things I actually want to read, and perhaps try my hand at writing. This situation sounds a lot preferable to me. But all I can do in the meantime is attempt being mindful at my totally undesirable situation. I really wanted to get rid of this laptop. But it's so much more convenient than not. And that's the draw of it all. Convenience. That's what keeps you doing things you don't want to even be doing. Even college, though I don't like it, is convenient for me right now. I don't have to be in the real world figuring things out. All I need to do is follow the trajectory they give me. No need to think for myself here.

I've actually been consistently working out the past couple of days. Today I went for a run on the trail, although I really didn't want to because it was raining. But then I thought, what kind of excuse is that? Okay, so I'm a slave to the education system but I refuse to be a slave to the weather, especially when it's concerning something that's good for me? So I ran, in my super cool barefoot shoes, and returned home soaking wet but emotionally and physically fulfilled. Worth it.

Honestly, the key to staying off digital devices is going outside. Reliving the nostalgia as a kid when we actually enjoyed the outdoors. Blocking a bunch of websites and then spending the majority of your time inside doesn't work. Over time, your brain will reject any facet of the idea that what's online is real. That what's online is even worth it. That's what I've been experiencing the past couple of days. 

Not Monday again (Digital Detox Day 21)

Whenever I scroll through my posts, I notice that I always make the best realizations on the weekends. When my time is solely my own. With Monday around the corner and with little to no time spent on homework... I'm stressing out. My heart rate is high for just sitting here, thinking about it. This is the sort of stress that makes you conform to things you don't even care about. I had a thought to myself, "dude I'm screwing myself over, not the university" but that doesn't have to be true. I can slowly, over time, become less reactive the way I am now...because the kind of stress I'm feeling isn't the one that compels you into action. It's the kind that has you running in circles, ultimately accomplishing nothing. I can do without that. But this weekend was pretty good, because I got outdoors. Because I got working out. I spent 2 hours in the gym today and got my butt kicked. That's what I need to do every day. And it's crazy, because I go to these group classes, see folks there two, three times older than me, and they're pulling heavier weight and aren't as visibly fatigued as I am. It's an embarrassment; for me, for my generation as a whole, really. Why don't we, as a whole, value physical activity?

And the thing is, I don't necessarily like going to the gym. The banter is empty - I heard folks talking about coronavirus and I didn't wanna hear that. I don't care for the fact that it's indoors, that the workouts are 'artificial' in that it's nothing like doing outdoor active work, the mind-numbing music. But I appreciate the gym. My body doesn't know the difference, if I'm squatting a bar or squatting some timber, y'know? I need the gym right now, for the accountability, and the fact that all I need to do is show up and do what the instructor does. It's really not that much on my part!

I rip on college a lot, and I give myself permission to. I won't rip on the gym though, which arguably is another one of those societal institutions where a lot of bullshit occurs (I will rip on treadmills though, and repetitive cardio machines which are so bland...but I don't do those anyway). I give myself permission because I already lived the life of the scholar, and I suffer a LOT more doing mental hoops with assignments than the suffering that takes place during physical activity. It's like my mind, though considered sharp through my good grades, was poisoned by a slow-killing, low dose that has made me misanthropic, disdainful of the flesh, and overall adopt a negative mindset of life. That's why I gamed - essentially, to escape middle and high school. But after a workout...it can't get much worse. It was a beautiful day. I waited 30 minutes outside for the bus doing nothing, and I wasn't even mad. I connected with the body, I connected with the mind, and I connected with the soul. Studying things just to study them...just to pass tests... doesn't give me that same satisfaction. I talk like a college dropout, but I assure myself, I am getting this goddamn degree. I have transferred too many times and accumulated debt in the process to not.

It's funny because today is the last day I'll be spending with this laptop. After this post, I'm wiping it, and downstairs it goes. The paper notebooks are coming back out. My backpack will be lighter. My desk will be cleared for other endeavors. And it's funny because this is one of THE WORST times to be getting rid of the stupid thing. I have tests next week and spring break is in two weeks, during which I could, for example, bring my laptop to a coffee shop and get things done. But I know I won't. I had my laptop for the whole weekend and have literally done the bare minimum. This laptop isn't really adding to my productivity.

Anyway, it's late. I'm gonna get the Standard Notes app on my phone so I can update the blog...we'll see how this goes, lol. Will be interesting.

Stay hard (Digital Detox Day 20)

Late post, will be short since I want to get to bed, get up early, and start my morning right. As I said in the last post, and as I'm truly starting to absorb: this is more than a digital detox. Fundamentally, lessening the use of digital technologies will NOT make your life better. But I'm beginning to identify something else to fill its place, something I want to devote my life to. And that's my health, and living in tune with nature. I watched a podcast of the Joe Rogan Experience with a man named David Goggins. I'm sure that I mentioned in at least one of my blog posts that I thought the majority of self-improvement books/concepts were frauds, but this man is genuine. I don't expect to be a hardcore trainer like him, but I love his mindset. I love his devotion in always being his authentic self, and not taking any bullshit. THAT is the life I want to live. I'm not going to measure my life by milestones handed down to society from institutions - education, jobs, wealth, etc. To hell with college! I'm of course going to get my degree, but it's on my own terms. No more grinding in the library, or stressing over tests. It's honestly not worth spending my time on. Instead, I'm going to get my workouts in, self-educate about things I actually care about, fight my depression demons, and try to cultivate love and positivity in my life, instead of defeat and hatred. I'm minimizing my posessions even further. I want to live with less, and be able to support myself with the least amount of money possible. I'm headed in a good direction. This is the track I need to stay on. With that, I'm headed to the gym in the morning tomorrow. I already got a workout in today - I have exercise-induced rhinitis which always sucks. Essentially that means after pushing myself physically, I always have cold-like symptoms after, and a runny nose that never stops FOR DAYS. I got a nasal spray from the doctor but I'm not sure if it's working. Nonetheless, I'm gonna keep going. Exercise and nature really help my mental health. It helps me connect with the body and what's real in this world, not fabricated conceptions of what we should care about, a "reality" that's not really reality...stay hard!

School of Life (Digital Detox Day 19)

This post is a bit late but I wanted to live my day out first before I wrote it. I woke up this morning in a jumbled mess because of the whole phone thing; I hated that it was a thing that I even cared about, and I hated myself because I spent my time on it when I don't even know why it matters. I was in so much agony that I decided to exercise -- a run on a local trail.

When I was surrounded by the calls of birds and scurrying of squirrels in the surrounding grass, I realized, that I have been straying further away with the point of my blog with every recent post -- "Low Tech" life, NOT buying a new smartphone, NOT seeking compromise with the most miniscule things that still manage to tempt me. And then, I thought, that I am a SLAVE to technology, not an addict. I used to think a slave of society was inherent in the obvious image of someone in a lot of debt after an opulent purchase, such as a mansion or sports car. But I, an enemy of the whole concept, am also a slave, no better or worse off.

Because if I see myself as a digital addict, it reinforces the idea that it's an individual problem. But no, I am part of a collective problem. I'm taking back the stupid phone. I don't care if it's faster or takes better pictures - why do I wanna do that shit anyway? Why do I care if my phone is upgraded, especially when I'm trying to spend less time on screens? It's as if this devil overcame me, the devil of comformity and groupthink. Every time when I am in some sort of technie environment I can't help but to conform. I can't help but to exclaim with nostalgic joy about video games or entertainment when I'm around people my age, because that's what people talk about! It is impossible to get away from. But that doesn't mean I should throw in the towel, it just means I need to actively resist, and fight the good fight.

It all started with that reset day...I was probably onto something before then but my flow was interrupted by the idea of "tinkering" as if I can't tinker in real life. Why do I limit myself to tinkering with some meaningless technology? And I still do care about digital privacy, but honestly, what need do I have for that now? In the middle of the detox? My brain found some justification for giving in, for changing the rules of the detox. It started with a succession of days with low moods, the Vyvanse that suddenly perked me up, and then the conclusion came about that, "oh, I have potential with technology, it's a big part of me, blah blah blah"

I refuse to shift extremes, as I periodically seem to do, but I've got to reframe the situation, and not think in terms of "potential" or ego. I'm not doing the digital detox to have a better life, and I'm removing any expectation that I will. I haven't even completed the detox. I haven't even completed 20 days, and I already got myself to reconsider the terms. But compared to the rest of my life, the 20 or so years, I have not once considered so deeply the consequences of living a life so dense with technology.

And it's more than technology. This is more than a DIGITAL detox. This is a societal attitude detox. I'm not going to see myself as a worker, or a student, or any sort of role that can be fit in a box. I'm not going to see my time as clockable hours, as money, or as a waste if it's not "productive." Basically, I'm throwing the standard definition of productivity out of the window. My time was productive if I spent it in joy. Or some other emotion that is outside my daily spectrum, even negative emotion. If I lived, then it was a productive day.

All the conflicting ideas I get...those aren't really from me. They're societal pressures imposed and ingrained in my brain from decades of conditioning. It isn't until I see parts of wild nature that I seem to forget about it all. It suddenly doesn't matter as much. The only things that keep me coming back is my depressed lizard brain and the intrusion of opposing ideas from others. My depressed lizard brain I'm working on. The SAM-e, I think, is helping. And the warmer weather too, and getting outside and all that. Opposing ideas are inavoidable. But that's why I need to build a solid foundation for myself. This is important!! A small fraction in my life spent not whisking it away on technology could prove to be more substantial than anything I've ever done, for my well-being and essentially for a stability of self.

So with that, this will be the last weekend I spend with this laptop. I have a family computer. I have the library a mile away. I have school labs computers. I have notebooks to take notes with. I need to get rid of this thing on my desk, this thing with its peripheral keyboard and mouse that take up the whole space. This desk ought to be devoted to writing letters, or in my journal, or reading a good book. I'm going to wipe it, and then sell it... or maybe give it away for free. The thing is a beaut, but I can't handle having it right now. Plus, I have my crappy, slow smartphone to feed my inner demons with its podcasts and Duolingo (I'm considering writing my blog posts on it too). It's in greyscale, and the battery and camera are god awful and I can't see myself getting addicted to the thing, especially since I don't have social media or play games, which are the top two drains of one's time spent on smartphones.

And honestly, I can see myself becoming even more of a slacker by getting rid of my laptop. Because I need to occupy a different physical space than the comfort of my room to work on things, I can already envision me not doing them. And to that, I say, that's okay. C's get degrees. I'm no longer doing this to become more 'studious' -- not to be corny, but I'd rather get A's in the school of life! (whatever that means, anyway)

Several hours have passed me by (Digital Detox Day 18)

So I got my Pixel 2 today. And I've spent the last several hours fussing around with it. Now I feel the same as yesterday, a bit jumbled and hyperactive. I wish I didn't feel the need to tweak technology to a perfect standard but the phone really is an upgrade than what I had before. I considered simply returning it because it was so different and there's way more features and settings, but it's better to have a phone that's reliable. Nonetheless, the GrapheneOS experiment didn't work, because OEM bootloading was greyed out - I screwed myself over by upgrading it to the latest version of Android, because Verizon's "security updates" were actually so you couldn't install a custom ROM; and the USB-C cord doesn't seem to be working with my laptop as I could downgrade the device and then do some kinda workaround thing. And then, I spent a good full minute looking for the headphone jack to realize THERE WAS NONE. I really bought a phone without a headphone jack and I didn't even know about it. Even with these difficulties, I said screw it, I like the thing. Perhaps at some point I'll buy a working USB-C cord to do some more troubleshooting, but, as I said, I really don't like spending hours doing that. It kills my mood. Now all that's left for me to do then is safeguard the device as much as possible from the prying eyes of Google - I bought the device just so I could install GrapheneOS on it, but now that I can't... I'm screwed over. I didn't sign in with a Google account and I'm not using any Google apps, except the default "Phone" app which I worry about, because they have access to your contacts, call history, voicemails, etc. But other than that, I'd say it's pretty locked down. Probably will just tweak those settings and leave it at that. 

I suppose part of my reasoning in having a reliable, fast phone, unlike the cheap one I had previously, is that it can eliminate a lot of the tasks I need my laptop to do. And the majority of my reasoning is that I'm studying abroad this summer, and I want something to take decent pictures with and that won't fail me overseas when I need to get in contact in people (the last time I studied abroad, I had phone problems and it was a MESS).

But I really need to call it a night. I spent a lot of time configuring it and whatnot, and I honestly just need to leave it be for now. I need to fix RescueTime so it shows an accurate measure of my hours spent on screens. Right now it's a little low and I'm not believing it; my screen time has actually been quite high this week. It appears I'm a bit unfocused right now when it comes to this digital detox, and need to re-evaluate my goals and the meaning of it all. Plus I've been staying up too late and the days have been blending. I hope this weekend I get a chance to slow it all down and get back on track.

NoSurf, No Laptop? (Digital Detox Day 17)

February screen time (desktop): 126 hours, 39 minutes

February screen time (mobile): 23 hours, 17 minutes

I wish I could get rid of my laptop. It's a beauty, this Thinkpad T440p that I bought cheaply used on eBay. It has a lot of USB ports and a CD/DVD drive which is a nice feature to have (but I've never used, tbh). It runs everything I need it to, at a fast enough speed that doesn't cause frustration. It plays HD video with no buffering. I could probably even game on it. And yet, I still want to get rid of it. It's convenient... but too convenient. Ever since I started dual-booting with Linux I've been cheating on the detox. I feel like I've been lying to this blog (and to myself - I've been doing this for a couple days now). Sometimes I get an hour or two of Reddit in, which is very CLEARLY against the rules. And for some reason, RescueTime isn't counting the hours spent on the other OS so there's probably a good chunk of screen time unaccounted for. I have no desire to bend these rules for myself - mindless scrolling is NOT good for me, mentally, or physically. I had a good day today, but then I came home and browsed the web for a good couple of hours. Not only that, but I decided to eat a starchy meal and junk food snacks to complement it. Now I have a headache from being stagnant (I also bring my laptop into bed with me which is a big no), eating like shit, and not hydrating. Why did I do that? Now I feel super anxious and am finding it hard to calm down. Ugh.

Nonetheless, as you can tell from my screen time numbers for Feburary, I still spent a LOT of time on my laptop: about 31.5 hours a week, or 4.5 hours a day. Productive or not, those numbers aren't ideal for living a life in alignment with nature, away from screens. It may be the new normal in this day in age, but I won't allow myself to conform to that. My behavior is different when surrounded by screens as compared to not. It reinforces my ADHD and I get more jittery and irritable. And for some reason, it's worse on my laptop than on my phone. It's easier to resist the phone, although it would appear more obvious the other way around. Honestly, all I do on my phone as of now is send quick texts, do Duolingo, and meditate with the Calm app. I'm looking forward to getting the Pixel 2 this week too; I don't think allowing myself to upgrade will change my phone habits much. But maybe I'm not suspicious enough of myself and my addictive tendencies...? We will see. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on myself...

I wonder what's stopping me from getting rid of my laptop. The bonding I've done with it? Everything it allows me to do, such as download media and work on things in the comfort of my own home? The ease of typing notes in class than writing them? However, we have a family desktop computer that I could use. And computer labs on campus. Plus, writing notes by hand is better for memory. And my backpack is lighter without it... I suppose I'll be pondering upon this for the rest of the week. I'd still like to take care of a couple things, and then I will reflect on if I'd like to let it go. I don't even think it's that extreme. People talk about phones as being the devil of technology but fail to mention the laptops and desktops that convince us they're productive, because they're machines required at institutions such as work or school. But not always. I think it's a lot easier to multitask on a computer than it is a phone. I'll be ending the post here, because the more I look at this screen, the more sick I feel. I'm not sure what it is; every since I started spending time away from screens, now when I spend large amounts of time on them, I start feeling physically sick. Where as before, I'd feel sick if I wasn't gaming or watching TV or browsing the web. But sometimes it's like that too. Who knows?

Eh (Digital Detox Day 16)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 6h 54m

I was going to continue the rant from yesterday and go on a full tirade but decided to meditate instead. I didn't really have a good day today, but I can choose to have a calm night spent with some quiet reading before bed. Tomorrow I'm going on another run and I need to do homework (to which I will allocate enough time for unlike the other day). It's a lot easier to cope with the world when you have no expectations. After the week(s) I've been having, these expectations I have for others have been dropping like fleas. I don't know if it's a modern tech era thing, but wow, people don't know how to talk to each other. To confront one another. To treat each other like human beings. I don't want to be treated like trash, but attempting to assert myself in a world like this just leads to more suffering. Because of the expectations I hold others (and myself) to; and at least, I follow my own expectations. I still would like to be nice and courteous to others. I don't think I can ever stop caring. I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and found myself shaking my head the entire way through. It would be ideal to be a Stoic; but sometimes I feel far too emotional to get to that level. Perhaps now would be the crucial time for a re-read.

I suppose what lead me to this realization is that I sent a long email to my program advisor explaining some of the problems I've been having, and I urged to meet her so we can discuss. Somehow, I got some corporate BS response ("oh maybe you should switch your major cvsdfjsdojf") and she made no mention of meeting. As if she can't fit in 30 minutes with a struggling college student, which is her job? As if email is an adequate medium to discuss such matters? I literally could not have a more discouraging experience. Like everything around me is a JOKE. And maybe it's on me for taking it seriously. With every day that goes by, the more I say "fuck it" and the expectations once tightly clenched in my hands fly loose behind me in the wind to never be seen again. I want to be free. I'm slowly letting it all go.

Rant (Digital Detox Day 15)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 1h 57m

For someone who is supposedly practicing Buddhism, I am anything but calm. In fact, I am enraged. I'm writing this blog post instead of doing this meaningless assignment so here we go --

Today, I took back my mornings and dedicated it to my well-being and decided to go on a run to the park. I'm glad I did that. But then, I realized I screwed myself over and didn't block out enough time to do my homework that was due in class a couple hours after (partly my fault for putting it off, but hey, they shouldn't assign so much crap, yeah?)

So then, I decided to skip all my classes for the day to catch up (this is quite common among college students... how messed up is a system when you have to resort to backwards action like that?) and I've been doing my work for the last 5 hours with minimal breaks and I still have an hour or two to go. And for what??? I'm going to forget the material the second after I'm tested on it, my toiling does nothing to improve my own welfare or that of others, I pay thousands of dollars every year just to have multiple mental breakdowns a week, I'll argubly come out of college a 'worse' citizen (I hate the world and the government even more with every passing second I'm here!), every lecture is simply 50-75 minutes straight of an "intellectual" chewing their own cud, I know everyone else is suffering but they're afraid to admit it and SAY SOMETHING, and I'm not even guaranteed a good job, which, I'm not too excited about the workforce either!!! I love college~!!!

I love having to stare at a screen for hours on end even though the opposite is what I'm trying to accomplish with the detox! I love having to work like a machine whipping through assignments and providing all the 'right' answers! I love feeling stuck in this position because in the real world, there's nothing really out there for me! 

This is why it's so much easier to escape it all...to game, to surf the web... this is the attitude that got me into my brief 4chan phase, because there, people felt the same way. I no longer felt lonely with my extreme opinions and aversion of society. This is also the attitude that lead me to anarchism, though, I truly am trying to take the "Middle Way," which in Buddhism is the balance of the mind and ideology. But a lot of the time, I can't help but feeling like a victim. And I'm not the only one. But the average person (especially my parents, lol) doesn't want to hear ridicule of "the system" or whatnot; they only want to maintain the status quo. And so it goes. 

It felt good to rant. But I still have two more things to work on before the night ends. Nothing has changed about my situation, even after letting it out. Even after stress-crying twice today. Society feeds me, clothes me. I'm grateful. But only my body is alive, and my soul is dead. I drift from meaningless endeavor to the next. I'd prefer if they just left me for dead, if they admitted their true intentions and didn't mask them. And yet, I can't drop out. I have no plan, no lined-up opportunities. This stupid grind I was prodded into after high school. I was one of the "gifted" kids, one who, like the rest of them, ended up depressed. I had a 4.3 gpa in high school. All my teachers loved the idea of me getting into a good college. But they never asked what I actually wanted, or even taught me there were other options in the first place. I was just a poor, naive, innocent kid in preschool who loved learning and then blindly followed the trajectory they laid out to me. I was lied to. I was deceived.

But all I wanted to do was start my mornings with a jog to the park. To drink tea and read literature and poetry. To play my guitar. To talk to a therapist. To travel. To have a cup of tea with a friend. To volunteer to a cause I'm passionate about. To learn French. To go on a bike ride through a forest trail. To stay in a monastery. 

But all my dreams and desires are pushed to the background, while studying, following orders, feigning my excitement to learn, memorizing, commuting, sitting, staring at a board, and over-spending money on tuition is pushed to the forefront. What kind of life is this? It doesn't matter if I join a student organization, see a friend for lunch to destress, or get a job, the fundamental passivity of college still remains and takes priority. I've done all these things during my college career, and at the end of the day, when I need to sit down and open my books, the suffering still envelops me just the same, no matter what I try and do to escape it. It doesn't even matter WHAT I do: what major, for example. I've switched majors like 4 times! Now I'm studying in a field I'm passionate about, and the bullshit format of classes still follows. Even though this is a field that could be meaningful and help people, we still do meaningless work and help no one.

This is going to be hard to get over. I'm halfway through and am unsure on how to continue. Maybe there is no 'how', but just "continue." Nonetheless, I'm going to stay angry. It's impossible to conform to this way of life. If there's an opportunity to revolt, you bet I'll be there.