Hi, I'm Hailey. Follow me on my journey in becoming my most authentic self through limiting the use of digital technologies. #100Days
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Distractions, distractions (Digital Detox Day 14)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 2h 21m

Not only does our high-paced high-tech lifestyle offer us an infinite amount of distractions and temptations, but it also allows us to trick ourselves into thinking we're doing a lot better than we actually are. Here, I refer to the amount of self-help and self-improvement resources that claim they'll fill in the missing link you've been missing in your life to reach your goals. And as someone who's guilt-ridden of her lack of self-discipline, for a good portion of my life I researched, watched, and read the vast amount of materials out there. But here's where I stop. Obviously it's not helping, I need a different approach. I feel that after going through a rough period in your life, it's logical to resort to this, but have you ever considered that that's not what you need? I'm realizing this now. I don't need, necesarrily, to be in action 24/7. My soul is lacking, the essence to who I am instead craves a spiritual connection, a spiritual journey. I had a brief stint where I was really into Buddhism, but I've since given it up because my ego resisted it. My ego thinks, "you only live once, live it up!" or "just sitting here is a waste of time when I could be doing other things!" etc etc. But you know what? Forget the ego. Don't listen to it. My true self is shining through, screeching that it needs to connect with Buddhism again. I need to slow down my pace of life, and not try to do too much at once. My immediate aims for the rest of the detox are to establish a meditative habit, invite mindful movement (yoga, tai-chi) into my life and to connect with nature. This is what I need. And this is in direct opposition to the sort of lifestyle I used to live, one that valued stimulation, ecstatic energy, meaningless talk... a very 'worldly' grounded way of living. And being a college student, this is the kind of lifestyle everyone around me lives as well. But I'm not asserting myself over anyone else, but I truly need to break free from it. Feeling isolated is a natural part of it all. And that's what my ego gave into. I wasn't connecting to the majority of people around me, so I dropped my spiritual journey for instant gratification, for an unsustainable excitement. I won't do that again. Man, do I get so tired of putting up a facade, of saving face and looking cool around people my age. I'm getting to the point where I don't always care if I'm the 'weird' one. However, I said 'always' because the other half of the time, I do care. Peer pressure, especially in your 20s, is to be expected. And peer pressure isn't like how they taught us in school, where a group of delinquents are circled around you screaming "do it! do it!" It's much more subtle. But it's real. Peer pressure, societal pressure... it's all distractions. Don't give in.

Back to the scheduled program (Digital Detox Day 13)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 10h 37m

So it only took me one day of screwing around before I realized that yeah, maybe it's better to have some restrictions in place. I mean, look at yesterday's screen time bro. 10 hours? Yeah I can't be doing that lol. I'm still going to allow myself to tinker. I'm looking forward to the new phone and exploring new FOSS software to use. I don't exactly want to go full on geek mode though. I recognize this was a large part of my past, but for right now, this tinkering is part of a plan that I've been waiting to act on for a while. And then when I feel satisfied enough, that will be it. I don't see myself being entirely off the grid, but I definitely aim to erase all my information from the hands of advertisers and large corporations. With that said, instead of Manjaro KDE, which was too flashy, I decided on Linux Mint XCFE. Customization is a rabbit hole, and I don't want to get too connected to my laptop by means of personalization. It's for school, it's for other tasks, and that's it. I'm using Windows for school stuff and Linux Mint to allow myself to indulge in digital media. I'm using FreeTube distraction-free mode, subscribed to only 8 channels (which focus on self-improvement/spirituality) and a VPN/Transmission to download movies from arrrr! bay. I'm also allowing myself to listen to mental health podcasts on my phone. I think this is a good change; I was going crazy otherwise. I'm too hard on myself, and expect to be productive all the time, but that's not how a human being works. I need downtime to explore, but in a healthy manner - an exploration that's centered to my goals, not looking at memes or pure entertainment (social media, Reddit and the YouTube website are still banned, except for 5 min a day on /r/nosurf just to keep up with the community). 

With that said, I'm aiming for a mindset shift. I talk a lot about how I hate college and the workload, and I do. But I think instead of waking up stressed about it, I'd rather wake up and be stressed about the things that matter - "did I get a workout today? Did I wash my face today? Oh, I better do that!" I'm going to start putting myself first always, and not some stupid assignment. I've gotten straight A's every semester and it means absolutely nothing. IT'S NOT WORTH IT! And starting next semester, I'm taking the bare minimum to be considered a full-time student (12 cr.) instead of attempting to challenge myself (in comparison, last semester I took 17 and this semester I'm taking 16). Sure, I'm challenging myself academically, but at what cost? It's about time I challenge myself mentally, physically, and spend time actually doing things. Being out in the world. Not having my nose in a book. This is why I hate academia. Super overrated. If I didn't need a degree for what I want to do, I wouldn't even be in college right now.

Nonetheless, this is what's been going on with me. I actually got a workout in today, after 2 weeks of being depressed and dormant. And I feel good. It's about time I start picking me. As for right now, I'm gonna read a bit and head to bed. Tomorrow, after getting some work done, I'm letting myself watch some YouTube and a movie. I earned it.

Reset (Reset Day 1)

So I'm reevaluating my prioties at the moment, and the detox isn't really in place? Mainly because yesterday, I found a way around Cold Turkey Blocker that I don't want to go into right now, but it was for a good cause. Here's what's going on -- I'm allowing myself to tinker. And it's scary. I just bought a used Google Pixel 2 and am going to flash GrapheneOS on it once it arrives next week. I'm going to get my digital privacy locked down. I don't think I'll manage my own cloud server this time around (maybe later, but it's something I don't want to maintain atm), but find a reliable host and move my files there. I'm double-booting my laptop with Windows 10 and Manjaro KDE, and am going to learn some basics of Linux. I'm even considering, once I feel comfortable with the rest of the tasks, that I attempt to coreboot my Thinkpad t440p. This morning I've been staring at and messing around in Open Street Map on my phone and am terrified. I've relied on Google Maps all my life. Public transport data isn't showing up, but that's how I commute - I don't have a car. Google Maps has truly made me their slave -- I don't even know my way around my own city. Nonetheless, I'm going to do this. I'm really doing it! I want to control my technology and not the other way around. I'll have to let some convienences go, but it will be worth it.

So I technically broke the detox, because I've been researching on Reddit and YouTube for information about digital privacy and ethical tech. And I did this all last night and this morning...with none of my homework even glanced at. College kills me inside but that's a rant for another time.

I'll leave you with a chilling quote from "The Cyber Effect" from Mary Aiken (written in 2016) I read today:

"By the time we get to 2020, when we are alone and immersed in our smart homes and smarter cars, clad in our wearable technologies, our babies in captivity seats with iPads thrust in their visual field, our kids all wearing face-obscuring helmets, when our sense of self has fractured into a dozen different social-network platforms, when sex is something that requires logging in and a password, when we are competing for our lives with robots for jobs, and dark thoughts and forces have pervaded, syndicated, and colonized cyberspace, we might wish we'd paid more attention"

Not too far off, eh?

But I'm good at technology omg (Digital Detox Day 12)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 4h 10m

Man this blog is such a collective mess. It shouldn't even be titled "Low Tech Life" but rather "Quarter Life Crisis." I slept over yesterday's hatred of the world, and I awoke with a fresh start. That's the "pro" to chronic depression - I know that I can sleep it off, because my mood is so inconsistent. Nonetheless, I took a Vyvanse this morning and it's got me into a jumbled mess. Mainly over something I read. So I've been reading "The Cyber Effect" by Mary Aiken, and I've been in agreement with everything she says EXCEPT for how she presents the cyberhacking, darknet, and pirating world (this is the chapter I started this morning and...oh boy). As a teenager, this is the crowd I fell in with. And the mix of Vyvanse and nostalgia I feel seriously has me considering the role I want technology to play in my life. Yes, I shouldn't be over-consuming consumer-side media. The news, social media, Reddit, YouTube for entertainment purposes. I even had a short stint with 4chan (don't wanna talk about that though). I'm definitely done with all of that. But I miss the tinkering. I used to have my own cloud server hosted on a Raspberry Pi. I used to be into Linux and I still would like to master it, because my morals have always aligned with FOSS and pro-digital privacy. And if I live a "low tech" life, I'm throwing that part of myself away. I hated technology because I hated all that corporate bullshit. In case you didn't know, my previous majors were IT focused (yes, I switched twice) but I couldn't handle it for exactly that reason. But the underground movements...those are different. Technology is only going to become more prevalent and invasive in today's society. But I can't resort to giving up and not using it at all. I need to resist.

As I said in my last post, I removed and blocked everything that I used to enjoy...and as someone with a mental illness I need those small things to look forward to. Since I read that chapter, I've been obsessively thinking about the parts I did miss about IT...why am I so self-descructive? It's almost as if I wanted to destroy the "nerd" or "gamer" identity I've held for the majority of my life, but that's shaped who I am. I'm starting to understand myself more. I feel like this is a step towards self-acceptance. I felt guilty, that for a crucial period in my life I wasted it away gaming or on the computer. And I thought this digital detox would change me. But I can still love nature and use technology. Again, with my extremist ideas on how a person should be, that they should only have one overcompassing identity. But they don't. I don't! Plus, there was talent and potential in my tech abilities, that could be used for good. 

There will be changes to the detox. Updates will come soon on that.

Digital detox = coping mechanism detox? (Digital Detox Day 11)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 2h 48m

This post is going to be short. Mainly because these past couple of weeks I've been predominately low, and I may be slowly descending into a depressive episode. My mood has been fluctuating like crazy. And it's been so hard to ask for help, or even tell others what's been going on. I have no idea how this will end. But I'm reaching a point in my detox where I'm beginning to miss everything I gave up. And I wonder if it was a mistake. Sure, browsing the Internet reinforced my depression, but it also helped me cope simultaneously. Now I have nothing to escape to when the urges are strongest for it. I'm starting to question myself and this idea I had, that stepping away from technology would make my life better, when overuse of digital technology wasn't the problem, but a symptom of the problem. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. It's nowhere near my bedtime, but I'm super tired from doing absolutely nothing. And I usually feel a bit better and fresh-minded after a good night of rest.

Raw-dogging Reality (Digital Detox Day 10)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 4h 9m

I had this thought this morning as soon as I woke up that I couldn't get out of my mind: wow, I'm really out here raw-dogging reality. It's a vulgar phrase, I know. But I remember seeing it from a meme a couple of years back and I can't explain my experience in a better way. 

Here's a quote from Dr. Craig Malkin, who describes those who escape from reality through technology:

"As people in pain sometimes drown their sorrows in alcohol, the cybercelibate abuse technology, relying on it to provide relief, relaxation, self-soothing, excitement, and even connection (albeit limited) that they could be getting from live people..."

So, with this detox, that's obviously not me anymore, and that may be why I'm having such a hard time. It was an interesting day today, because I tried accupuncture for the first time. When the practitioner looked at me, she noted that I was malnourished. She told me to open my mouth and stick out my tongue, and from that, she was able to tell I'm stressed. She's right, about both. This is how it feels, initially, to raw-dog reality. I know it will get better. I'm devising changes to make in my life and not be so extreme. My mom says I self-polarize back and forth frequently. That I get obsessive-compulsive. She's right. I've been learning a lot about my bad habits and negative thinking patterns, and that would've never occurred if I continued to drown out my thoughts and existence through screens. Honestly, there's nothing more that I need to do right now than make it through the detox, through the semester, and take care and nourish myself! There are so many things I'm interested in doing but I realize I can't contribute and give myself fully to the world when I'm fatigued, when I don't even have the basics covered. For example, I despise the packaging and the lack of interactivity with microwavable meals, but I'm giving myself permission to find a healthier option and make those the bulk of my diet. Because right now, my diet isn't much of anything. I feel like I lost a pound or two, and when you're already skinny, it makes quite the difference. 

Why wouldn't I give myself permission to eat a microwavable meal? Because as I've said, I'm an extremist, and obsessive. I feel like I can't eat unless I do it the right way - in a way that is good for the environment, good for myself, and good for my morals which aligns more with the Slow Food Movement. And honestly, it's ridiculous, the way I think. That I must have every aspect of my life pinned down like that. 

From now on, I give myself permission to take baby steps, compared to taking nothing at all because nothing matches my perfect ideals. And nothing ever will. Today, I give myself permission to let go of my perfectionism. It has never served me well.

Avoidance (Digital Detox Day 9)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 4h 5m

Just as I was saying yesterday about doing something, I'm beginning to notice how all my daily decisions are fueled by avoidance. It's a lot easier for me to do this digital detox than it is to remain a constant exercise schedule, engage in hygiene and other self-care maintenance, or eat 3 meals a day. I often come home starving because I avoid going to the dining halls on campus, where I'm fatigued by all the options and all the people. So I chose starving over eating. And I've been making decisions like this for years now. I'm not sure what it is. And the daily grind of college sure isn't helping me regain the energy levels to actually take care of myself in the way I'd like to be taken care of. I'm just about always tired. I expend my energy to too many things even when I promise myself I'll focus on a few. And in public spaces I often feign high energy levels as to be engaging, and that wears me out too. And then when I get home, I feel paralyzed. I do nothing and I go to sleep, to do it all over again the next day. 

I know it's characteristic of depression, which I have (dysthymia, technically) but it's not even like I brood around in despair every waking moment. I'm just kind of 'eh' and eventually it became my new normal. It's unfortunate, but that's what it is. So now I'm left with the task of, how do I not be so 'eh' all the time? There are so many things I truly want to do, but it feels like I either mentally or physically cannot.

I took a break from writing this post to do some searching, and I know I'm not alone. I get my blood levels checked and I take vitamins to account for some of the low areas. But that's not it. Maybe I'm taking the wrong supplements. I found something about SAMe, which may be worth looking into. Antidepressants, for me, were too much. I have had major depressive episodes in the past, but right now, I'm just about as mentally stable as I can be. Life is tough; we must remember to do our best and take care of ourselves however possible. I suppose I have some vitamin shopping to do. This digital detox is a form of self-care, though it certainly doesn't feel like it, but it's close to the best I can do right now. And in the future, I'm only going to take 12 credits a semester and emphasize exercise, hygiene, and a healthy diet more. But as for now, it feels like I'm playing catch-up with everything in my life. But this too shall pass, and there will be a point when I'll feel able to do more. To participate more in life and get a little closer to my potential. Because I know it's there, and it's high, too. 

Do Something! (Digital Detox Day 8)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 3h 30m

It's the mid-afternoon, the optimal time for a siesta. But I'm too tired for a nap, so here I am, laying in bed writing this post. My original plan was to burn my eyes out staring at a glaring blue light screen until I need to go out later, but I'm realizing that's not a good idea. Plus, since I've blocked just about every addicting website out there, all I can binge and have been binging is Wikipedia. And reading all that text gets cumbersome after awhile. But recently, both in class and articles on Wikipedia, I've been learning about all sorts of social activist groups and movements - it inspires me. I complain so much about the world without actually doing anything about it. But I am seriously so done with lazing about and not contributing anything. My body doesn't want to sit still anymore; my body doesn't want to take a nap. How can I expect change in the world by simply complaining all the time? I tire myself, with my large rants about "society," which is complex. I need to narrow down my political interests. What change would I like to see most, right now? Well, a switch to ethical, humane (& private) technology, the protection and enjoyment of nature, and holistic and ethical treatment of psychitric and mental disorders. When I used to have social media, my mind was often scattered by all the awful news, and I exhausted myself by caring about everything but still doing nothing. Now that I don't really pay attention to the news, and am not bombarded by other media sources, I'm beginning to narrow down what is most important to me in this moment. Now, the next step, is finding organizations where I can get involved in my local area. That will take some researching to do, but I plan on getting started asap.

Like seriously, this digital detox is crazy. I'm beginning to feel a little more inclined to leave the house everyday. To meet people (though I still get super anxious beforehand) and be a part of something. All I can do on my computer is write on this blog, compulsively check my near-empty email inbox, do homework, or binge Wikipedia. I've blocked audio/music streaming, video streaming, and social media (I also don't play video games anymore, and I've also banned downloading media for offline-use) -- the largest portions of my past internet screen-time. It isn't until you get rid of everything you thought you needed to discover what you actually need. And I need to be involved in something. I need to do something.

After writing this, I got a jolt of energy and definitely won't be able to take my siesta after-all. But I'm getting ideas for what I want to do with my life, my rebirth after the detox. It's an exciting time. Do something!

The Value of Conversation (Digital Detox Day 7)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 9h 10m <-- my goodness. I was pretty productive on this day but that number is still quite unacceptable (I should instead space out my work and not rely on getting a bunch done on one day with the help of a pill). It reminds me of how I used to hit these numbers on a daily basis...

It's been an eventful day. I got some homework done, made it out of the house, and went to the cinema to see a movie. Productive enough! I always need to make an effort to go outside everyday, which is something I did not do when I was in hardcore gamer or hardcore Netflix binger mode. I'm beginning to notice a shift in my fundamental being, one who used to value time spent indoors to one who values time spent outdoors (though, because of my habits, it isn't always natural for me to just go outside...sometimes I need to force myself!)

Because of my medication, I was up quite late last night and got some reading done - I started a new book, and read about 80 pages of The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken. I think still, even by having this blog, it's hard for me to describe why I'm doing this. It's just so obvious to me: the over-use of digital technology transforms me into a person I don't want to be. It's transforming us into a society that I fear the consequences of. I recently finished a chapter that reaffirms my belief of the value of empathy and conversation, something we're all losing. Eye contact, personal disclosure, and a safe, quiet space free of distraction is what builds trust with others. It's how we relate to others, how we empathize with them. But phones make it too easy to not make room for these moments, these moments that can be boring, awkward, or difficult to get through. Growing up, I was an awkward kid. I still am an awkward kid. But I cannot blame myself for that. I simply did not have enough exposure to an environment that would help me build interpersonal skills. Even to this day, I find myself a lot better at the written word than the spoken, but I make effort to talk face-to-face with others, instead of relying on the crutch of texts and emails.

I just find it disappointing that the idea of the story, or storytelling, has lost its value in our society. And though I don't always have the patience to sit through one, with my fidgety self, I'm working to try to immerse myself in it. I want to immerse myself in a real, shared moment with another person, not a virtual moment shared with my screen. But it takes work to change one's brain chemistry. My brain doesn't value conversation like my soul does. My brain thinks, oh, it's quicker to send a text, or Google a question I have instead of asking my professor who's right in front of me. But that's not fulfilling. Is anyone really fulfilled living like this? At the end of the day, I remember my best moments because of who I shared it with, not because of the information I gained. What's the value of 'information' anyway when you don't do anything with it? We have the whole world at our fingertips and the majority of Internet users simply consume it and take nothing from it...

But conversation isn't solely about exchanging information. It's about human presence and the freedom to express oneself. And I wish that was what my childhood was built on, not playing video games for 12 hours straight during summer break. I wish I loved myself and knew who I was because I had a solid support team who provided unconditional love. And I wish I knew how to communicate with others without replaying it over and over in my head, feeling like an alien. But it's slowly gotten better for me, even a bit.  I'm better off now than I used to be, but I still have so much more progress to make.

ADHD and Technology (Digital Detox Day 6)

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 4h 21m

Before I begin the post, I figure it would be best for everyone if I try to construe my entries into an encompassing theme (or at least, try). Thus, I'm going to start titling the posts with the theme and have the digital detox day be a sidenote.

In reference to the last post, I always get super depressed at the end of the week, mainly because I'm left on my own with a bunch of unstructured time that otherwise would've been filled with entertaining myself on the Internet. But now, I don't have that option. My depression can make it hard to get out of the house  - something I should be doing, and I know will make me feel better, but it feels impossible. And I always feel so anxious to get my homework done but that feels impossible too. But this weekend is going to be different. And here's why: stimulants.

I don't like the pharmaceutical industry, or being reduced to a multitude of mental diagnoses by psychiatrists, or having to rely on a substance to get me through my day, legal or not. But this semester, I've been having a lot of trouble with my academics, mainly with keeping up on the workload. So I've been prescribed Vyvanse again. I've tried it before for a whole semester, and I took it everyday. That was where I went wrong. It works, in that I can focus and feel motivated to hit the books. Though I still hate homework, on stimulants I at least don't also hate myself in the process. But it makes me anxious. I sweat, my heart beats fast. I become irritated with anything interfering in my way to get things done. If I'm not getting things done, then I become restless, fidgety. MUST GET THINGS DONE. And that's why I no longer take them everyday, but instead adopt a strategic approach in taking them. I took one this morning and caught up on entire weeks-worth of online material that I've been neglecting. I plan on doing one more assignment and one more reading before I do some deep breathing and try to relax to enjoy the rest of my day. I even made it outside earlier, which is a rarity, considering I don't have class on Fridays. Although off ADHD medication I'm a bit more spacy and a ton more depressed, I've gotten used to feeling a full range of emotions. You could even say I like it (though I don't like being depressed...but I like feeling like myself and feeling as I would normally)? This is why I've stopped with antidepressants as well. It zombifies you. I've rather feel depressed than nothing at all.

Medication is a technology. Not a digital one, but a technology nonetheless. But institutions prescribe you this medication in a one-size fits all approach, which is not how technology should be adopted. When I took my medication every day for a full semester, I was burnt out. I wasn't feeling the entire human experience. I was one-track minded and hyperfocused on productivity, neglecting mindfulness and the slower pace to life that makes it worth it. After spending a couple months off of it, I'm now back on the medication but under my own terms. Everyone should adopt this ideology when it comes to technolgoy of any kind.

Which, this brings me to the idea of digital technology and ADHD. It's been proven in multiple studies that children and adults with ADHD are at higher risk for video game and internet addiction. And yet, recommendations are made for certain apps and websites for folks with ADHD to get their lives in order. If your life is somewhere in the cloud, good luck trying to disassociate yourself from it! (Also, please note I'm not including assistive technology in this argument. When I had accomodations, I had a software that recorded and transcribed audio but it fundamentally didn't do much for me, in my experience of learning... but that doesn't mean it doesn't help others tremendously.) This is why I ridicule universities on a daily basis because everything is online - assignments, discussion boards, even quizzes and exams. It's crazy, because if my teachers were to print out the readings and hand them to me, I'd be more compelled to read it. If exams were in person, students would be more compelled to study for them (instead of looking up all the answers during)! Analog education is so crucical to me. I'm honestly very disappointed that schools, including public K-12 schools, incorporate digitaltechnology and force it upon students in their curriculum. I understand that it's "the future" but .pdfs, for example, encourage skimming and skipping paragraphs. Digital technology does not encourage a full and deep learning process, not the one I received when I was young. I'm grateful for that.

In working on the executive functions of my life, I try to be as analog as possible. And I usually don't misplace things either, which is representative of ADHD folks, because I live quite minimally. I don't have Google Calendar. I don't use an online task manager. Everything is compiled in my one 2020 agenda that I got from Walgreen's for like $10. I love that thing. Unlike apps in the cloud, my agenda encourages me to spend quiet moments of reflection with it, and to look ahead and know by heart upcoming due-dates or events. I'm looking for other ways to incorporate analog substitutions for the digital, but unfortunately, as I've said, everything for school is online these days. I've tried taking notes on paper-and-pen but find it hard to keep up. Plus, I figure that it's best to reconcile how I take notes to how we're taught - without deeper discussion, or critical thought, but monotony and copying of facts and information. 

This post is getting long, so I'm going to cut it here. It appears that I entered a bit of a flow state in writing this, and am neglecting the homework I set out to do...thanks Vyvanse.

Digital Detox - Day 5

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 2h 41m

I question a lot of things, which is good, but sometimes I worry I do it in excess. I've slowly became a pessimist over the years due to my excessive pondering about all the aspects of life there are to ponder about....today, I was riding the elevator to class and someone with a seeing-dog came in, striking up a conversation with me in such a joyful tone. I wondered how, but I don't think there is a "how" in loving life, just a "do". I need a whole new mindset. I can't go on being so judgmental about myself, others, and society as a whole. But reality proves its disappointments over and over, and it's hard to disconnect from. There are too many problems in the world to focus on. Although I don't watch the news, I see it the problems of the world everywhere around me. It's hard to get away from, even when doing a digital detox. It's true, that when I played video games or watch YouTube videos I was escaping from reality. And now that I'm back full force within it, I want to escape again. It's too much to handle, honestly. I don't know what I'm doing on this earth and what this earth has for me. And there's so much pressure to have it figured out. Nonetheless, on I persist in the daily grind...I can't question anything further if I want to get sleep tonight.

Also, I'm realizing how my blog name is "Low Tech Life" but I haven't been incorporating that sort of content into my posts. Instead it's reading more like a diary. Eh, whatever. Let me ramble on until I get to the gold, I suppose.

Digital Detox - Day 4

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 3h 23m

Regarding my last post, I've done a lot of thinking about the concepts of an 'ideal' and 'actual' self. And I think it's best that for one's sanity, these two concepts remain one in the same. I'm reminded of social media, in which one has to keep up this higher image of themselves, which technically is them but at the same time, not really. Once you have this higher image of yourself which displays only the positive aspects of you and not the negative, you set a standard for yourself that is impossible. Without the negatives, we wouldn't have the positives. As someone whose self-esteem isn't too high, I find myself hyperfocused on the negatives and how I can eliminate them to become my ideal self, but it will never work out for me if I keep thinking this way. I question the effectiveness of vision boards or the "Law of Attraction." I think even before we resolve to these paths we should first start with a complete self-acceptance.

Digital technology deters this goal of self-acceptance; when we spend time online, are we actually spending time with ourselves? And in remaining sedentary, we ignore the "self" that is the body as well. I'm finding that after all these years of denying my "self" that natural human instincts such as communication is uncomfortable. Eye contact is uncomfortable. Exercise is uncomfortable (this one is probably more relatable, but humans historically were a very active species). Having to make time to prepare a meal for myself and nourish myself is uncomfortable. Why is it so hard to connect with our flesh, with our souls? If I knew myself I know I wouldn't be as angsty... but there are too many distractions in this world to stop you from achieving that. This angst can be used as a driving fuel to compel you into consuming. As for me, I refuse. It instead compels me to look for answers.

Digital Detox - Day 3

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 4h 30m

I just got back from the movie theatres - I saw my first silent film! It was hard to focus at times but I enjoyed the cinematic and avant garde elements that proved the film to be ahead of its time. Events like this are good for me, but I don't always feel good after going. In fact, I'm fatigued. It feels like a weight is holding me down. This is why staying in is the easy choice - I would be able to ease into nightfall and plan out my evening routine meticulously. But as it now turns 22:00, I have no choice but to head to bed after writing this post, head cloudy, body aching. This post length isn't going to be anywhere near close to the others. It's hard to describe how I feel except "total aversion." I appreciate the arts. I really do. And in theory an after-film discussion about thematic choices and the behind-the-scenes would invigorate me. At least, my ideal self would be invigorated. But my actual self feels kind of "eh." It's easy to have an ideal self when you're not doing anything. And then you're faced with reality and you stop dreaming. I don't mean for this post to be depressing. I'm just tired and I have a lot of homework to do which I'm obviously not doing tonight, but it will definitely pile up this weekend... in conclusion, I am neurotic! And quite often.

Digital Detox - Day 2

Yesterday's total screen time (mobile/desktop): 4h

It's been a long day. It's only day two of me keeping this blog and I already don't feel like writing, which is perhaps even better reason for me to be doing this. The person I was for the majority of my life, and still am (but trying to break away from) was a nihilistic perfectionist. What an awful combination. I put myself and others to unrealistic standards, and when I fail, what do I matter anyway? I've been stressed, which makes it even harder to escape the allure of spending copious amounts of time on digital technology. When I used to get home after a long day at school, I would decide to "reward" myself through a video game, watching vine compilations on YouTube, or looking at memes on Reddit. Some people may not see the harm in doing so. But if that is all you look forward to...? It's sad. Looking back, I wish I would've got involved in an organization, volunteered, or cultivated life skills that my current lack of, because I never got the exposure, make daily life so much harder for me. But there's nothing you can do about the past. There's only now. I don't and shouldn't expect myself to be 100% satisfied with myself and my progress after this detox. It's mainly an exercise to rewire my brain, to not crave pixels on a screen and instead look outward into the world instead of being deluded by my inner-fantasies. That's important. Because after spending so many years simply consuming you lose sight of a better future, of what it feels like to human. Which, isn't great all the time, but it's part of the experience. Something I realized awhile back is that digital technologies reinforce the idea that you can edit your life experiences to how you desire. But you can't. You can choose who you text, what movie you watch, or what music you listen to, but you can't choose external circumstances. I feel like as a society, we've lost mindfulness, or acceptance of the harsher realities of life. And that's what I've been ignoring for the majority of my life too. Life does suck. As I said, I had a long day, I'm not fond of university, but I'm halfway through and my career depends on me getting this degree. And I can't just 'get' the degree with C's and D's, because the scholarships I rely on to fund my education require that I do well. The "system" sucks, but that doesn't mean I have to suck too. That doesn't mean I have to be predetermined product of my environment. 

It's still early in my journey. I haven't made any substantial changes. But I'm starting to configure my room to highlight some analog activities to do in my downtime: look, a Rubik's cube! A guitar! Books! A drawing pad and pencil! Plants! These are the activites I want to particpate in, but the brain chemistry isn't entirely there yet. I have never once in my adolescence, for example, looked at a guitar or a Rubik's cube and became curious about it. Nope. It's straight to the computer instead. But there were times when I was curious about life, when I was naturally creative, and that was in my childhood in the pre-digital age. I want to connect more with my inner-child. I feel everyone can and should. We take life's simpler pleasures for granted and take menial matters too seriously. We're stressed, you're stressed, I'm stressed. The minute I got home I was actually able to listen to my body and I noticed the burning headache I had that was silently aching in the background since I arrived at class. My skin is breaking out, my body is sore without any extrenuous physical activity. College stresses me out. It's something I need to attend to for the next semester, perhaps. I probably should take fewer credits and maybe get accomodations for my ADHD, but I've had accomodations before, and they're not as helpful as people make them out to be. My problem lies in the amount of homework I get, and there's not an accomodation for that. They still expect you get your homework turned in on time, disability or not.

Nonetheless, before I hit the hay, I'm going to wind down with a good book. That's an activity that I usually can do regardless of how stressed I am. I think I mentioned this in the last post, but the books I'm reading right now are keeping me motivated to change, to improve myself. They are "Reclaiming Conversation" by Sherry Turkle and "You Are Not a Gadget" by Janon Lanier. Indeed, I am not a gadget, and neither are you. Take care of yourselves, and until tomorrow.

Digital Detox - Day 1

Hello world! I'm Hailey, and I'm a problematic Internet user; one may even go as far to say an addict. I do technically meet the criteria, which is to meet all five of the following:

  • Is preoccupied with the Internet (constantly thinks about past use or future use)
  • Needs to use the Internet with increased amounts of time to gain satisfaction
  • Has made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop use of the Internet
  • Is restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to control Internet use
  • Has stayed online longer than originally intended

And one of the following:

  • Has jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational, or career opportunity because of the Internet
  • Has lied to family members, therapists, or others to conceal their involvement with the Internet
  • Uses the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood (e.g., guilt, anxiety, depression, helplessness)

Ever since I can remember, I'd hop on the computer after school to immerse myself in virtual worlds and post on online forums. It took me away from the painful reality that I was living, which was that I didn't fit in with my peers and my parents didn't pay me much mind. I never had close familial or platonic relationships, even to this day. I struggle with ADHD, social anxiety, and dysthymia. The only thing that has remained constant in my life is the availability of the Internet, and how it simply eases my anxiety, fear, and disappointment with the world around me.

For a couple years now, I've been making strides with my mental health and internet use. It's a very slow process. But in this couple-year span, I've quit social media and playing video games. I began taking medication to treat my depression, and I started seeing therapists. I even got into my first relationship with a loving partner. But that has since fallen apart...and I fell into the void harshly.

But I left that relationship with an important message, one my ex reiterated after leaving: "You can't love someone until you love yourself."

Though I made progress in what I did, in material aspects, I never made progress in the abstract, in loving myself. But now that I'm alone, I spend a lot of time with my thoughts, with my visions for the future. This blog serves to document this journey I am to embark on, starting today: in minimizing the interference of conflicting messages I get from the world around me, and to truly get to know, accept, and love myself.

Though I will say that the problem of over-use of technology is one that extends to the majority of my generation, and it saddens me deeply, I want to take a breahter and focus on myself for now. Yes, it's hard to meet new people when they're so wrapped up in the bits and pieces of their digital realms. It's especially difficult to converse with others who are hyper-concerned on superficial matters that are fed to them by their screens, to which they willingly give their control. It's depressing. It's almost impossible to even envision my place in a world like this, because argubly, I wouldn't want to have a place at all. I don't want to live in a world like this. But this is why it starts with myself: I don't have to give in to these fake demands society places upon me. I will be as authentic with myself as I am with others, and perhaps I will find someone who also has the mindset.

A book I'm reading that delves further into the topic of how technology has stolen our enjoyment of conversation and the company of others is called "Reclaiming Conversatrion: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age" by Sherry Turkle. The anecdotes in the book are relatable, especially if you grew up with a computer and internet access at a young age. This book is what sparked me into action, because I refuse to be another statistic, another depressed and anxious Gen-Xer who turns to her phone or laptop whenever she has a free moment. Who chooses meaningless pixels over another person with their own stories to tell, who could provide a real connection! It's honestly mind-boggling, the collective bad habits this world has gotten themselves into! We just adopted technology without ever questioning it, without even debating if the pros outweigh the cons. Ugh. Nonetheless...

Today is day 1 of a 90-day digital detox. I've tried digital detoxes before, and have been met with failure. But I'm determined to succeed this time around, because I'm especially critical of society, and of myself for blindly following. As mentioned before, I have successfully quit social media (which is seriously so fake...I'm glad I got rid of that) and video games (which I miss sometimes, but my goals are more important right now). This time around, the point of the digital detox is to quit YouTube and Reddit, addictive services that don't require an account to scroll (which is dangerous!). I've blocked them on my laptop with Cold Turkey Blocker. My laptop use is to be solely for schoolwork, email, and light browsing, and of course writing this blog, which will give me some accountability. I'm not sharing this blog with anyone, so I don't expect many readers if at all any. But I do hope, perhaps further in the detox, I can connect with and/or have helpful advice for those who want to also minimize their contact with technology.

My goals are to form healthy habits, spend more time outdoors and with the physical world, and to get homework done as soon as possible (which I'm not looking forward to whatsoever...maybe I should remove this from my goals, lol). I'm using RescueTime pro to track every minute of my browsing. A year ago, the ratio was about 2.7:1 for unproductive time (streaming services, Reddit, other menial crap) to productive time (school stuff, researching, managing finances) spent on the web. I want to reverse that. The internet is a tool. I don't plan on giving up the internet entirely. However, a lot of us, including myself, treat the internet as a friend. As a means without an end. But why? There's so much in the world to do. Traveling, adventuring, exploring, creating, learning. Time spent on the Internet that doesn't go towards these things is time wasted, in my opinion. 

I remember before my family got a computer, I would go over to my friend's house and ring their doorbells and ask if they wanted to play. They always said yes, and we spend hours playing from dawn until dusk. Then we got a computer and dial-up. I never left the house. My friends were worried, and came to ring my doorbell. They asked if I wanted to play. I said I couldn't, that my mom wouldn't let me... but it was a lie. I stayed in to play video games from dawn until dusk instead. They eventually stopped coming to my door. And one day, they too would spend all their time alone, indoors. That sole moment hit the switch for me, the moment where I fell asleep to the smaller joys of life. I've been trying to wake up since.