This generation is highly digital that we would find ourselves being plugged to the virtual world 24/7. But when is the time to say enough is enough?
There is a rule on every technology piece on earth: never overcharge its battery or soon it would start creating troubles.
This happens to my late Toshiba Portege, and every handphone and smartphone that I have had in the past ten years. I was a lazy gadget owner, still is. I charge my phone and laptop batteries every night and leave them until the next morning. While charging to full usually only takes two to three hours, I give it an extra six hours of overcharge everyday.
You could imagine how fast the battery would leak in the coming months.
And they would never perform optimally anymore.
Instead of being able to live for two solid days, my iPhone now only tolerates half a day.
My MacBook has already started giving me headaches. It has become stubborn, thrown tantrum, and behaved lazily. Sometimes it freezes, runs in slow motion, and plays hard to catch. Because I have over-plugged it for over four years.
And if technology stuffs are dying slowly because of being over-plugged, so does our lives.
I have been over-plugged to the internet for three years now. Ever since I came to uni, I have been plugging myself 16/7, considering I have been sleeping on the other eight.
And what has it turned me into? An anxious person. A distracted fellow. An addict.
Let me explain the terms one by one.
An anxious person
I would check on my phone every 15 minutes, as if I’m afraid to miss every single email, notification, or information.
At first, of course, I did this because I was bored. I had nothing to do, so I checked my phone. Then, I started craving for it. And now, checking all my emails, Facebook notifications, and Tweets would become a 15-minute routine.
What am I anxious for? There would be no urgent email or important notifications – nothing that I could not wait to read for another hour, or even half a day. If something is urgent, people would not email me or write on my Facebook wall, they would call me.
But sometimes, the urge to check emails and browsing the net would become so great that I would become very anxious for not checking them. Such a shame.
A distracted fellow
I was reading an e-book on my iPad the other day and I was able to read 76 per cent of it (about two hours of reading) without having the urge to check the net. But soon after a friend sent me a chat on what’sapp, everything crumbled. What I intended to be a ten-second break morphed into a five-minute one.
I replied messages, checked emails, checked Facebook, Twitter, and my blog analytics. Then, I scanned through the last 24 per cent of the e-book, wanting to finish it as soon as possible so that I could surf the net at ease.
I was distracted, and I felt helpless. I was sad. Sad because I couldn’t fight the urge of checking the internet. Sad because I didn’t even want to fight it.
You might not want to label yourself this, and I don’t want to as well. But sometimes, I ask myself, do I behave like an addict? I check my iPhone every morning after I open my eyes. I check my iPhone every night before I close my eyes. I check my iPhone during lecture. I check Facebook while writing. I check emails while reading.
Even when 90 per cent of all those checkings have nothing new to bring to the table.
To be plugged, but not over-plugged
In his podcast, Michael Hyatt talked about what the internet is doing to our brain and what we can do about it. He said that while the internet has brought the best out of people, it has also brought the worst. The key is to moderate your consumption.
We need the internet, that’s no question. But we don’t need it every waking second. We don’t need it every 15 minutes. We don’t even need it every hour.
The question you need to ask yourself is: Is my time on the internet killing everything else in my life? Is it killing my real relationship with my friends, family, or partner? Is it killing my health?
Sometimes I feel it in my bones. When you have been over-plugged, you will know. Like a leaking battery, something in your life would start leaking too. I don’t know if it’s your job, productivity, relationship, health, or creativity. But if something’s leaking and you do nothing about it, it would start leaking even more. And more. Until it consumed you.
I have been cutting my time on the internet lately. And you know what? One Wednesday I had five hours of free time that I literally did not know what to do with it. So I read a novel, finished it, wrote another article, edited it, and slept. I suddenly realised that I have been spending my time on the wrong things.
Plug yourself to the internet wisely. You don’t need to be plugged 16 hours a day. Three years ago I was plugged a quarter of the time. And I survived.
What is your internet consumption looks like? Are you being over-plugged as well?