Day 1 of my Tech Detox: Something Amazing Happened

Today was such a roller coaster of emotions. I can’t even understand how someone can undergo such a dramatic shift in well-being in a single day just by avoiding their phone & computer. But that’s what happened. When I woke up, I had a mild headache, and had a tickle in my throat that felt like the onset of a cold. When I ate breakfast, I became so tired that I had to go back to bed and lie around in lethargic frustration for a half hour before being able to get back up. I started eating emotionally to the point where I literally consumed 16-20 pieces peanut butter & jam sandwiches as well as an entire bag of cherries. Things got so bad that I ended up passing out on my couch at 5pm and waking up in an awful, groggy state at 630 or so.

And then I went for a bike ride, just aimlessly following the city’s bike path wherever it would take me until I got bored a couple hours later. And that’s where everything changed. I made myself a glass of mint tea and while drinking it, I had this amazing moment of serenity. It’s hard to describe, but it’s this feeling that you literally just enjoy being alive, where every breath feels good. The key component is that your mind is at peace.

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My Struggle With Technological Addiction

I’m sick and tired of being addicted to instant gratification. In my last blog post I alluded to the idea that there doesn’t seem to be a central issue of our time to get behind. Perhaps this is it. The world is giving way to shorter and shorter attention spans bordering on the absurd. Like a frog that’s being boiled alive at a rate so gradually that it doesn’t even notice it, we’ve become so acclimated to this insanity of modern life that we don’t even question what’s going on.

Let me elaborate with a little anecdote about how pervasive technology has become in my life. I can’t go running without listening to music. I ride my bike while listening to music, despite the danger that obviously puts me in. I listen to music while on the bus, the metro, at the gym, hell, I’m even listening to music while writing this blog. When I’m waiting in a long line, I can’t resist reading articles on my phone. If I do resist this temptation, I get anxious. If I have to take a dump, 99% of the time I’m browsing cracked or reddit on my phone. I’ve even brought my laptop to the bathroom at times.

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Outrage Fatigue

One of the unfortunate consequences of living in the internet age is that we are being overwhelmed by information and don’t know how to handle this phenomenon. We now live in a so-called attention economy. In the news world, this translates to a sort of race to the bottom of producing the most sensationalist, clickbait headlines possible. As a result, news now focuses on what triggers the most visceral emotions, particularly outrage.

For example if you check the top scoring links of all time on reddit’s technology subreddit, you will see headlines such as these dominating the feed:

Ashley Madison made millions from $19 ‘full delete’ option, which may not actually have deleted anything

Amazon employee on relentless working conditions – “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

Twitter shuts down 30 sites dedicated to saving politicians’ deleted tweets

AT&T just got hit with a $100 million fine after slowing down its ‘unlimited’ data

Comcast admits its 300GB data cap serves no technical purpose

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