I unplugged in certain ways for much longer than July 15th. And in doing so, I realized this: the digital noise of the online world wasn’t what was holding me back. Even after unplugging, I still felt that I didn’t have enough time to do all that I wanted. Did unplugging help with my life? Definitely. But the help didn’t come in the form of more time and space; instead it came in the realization that I have not been taking responsibility for my time and space.
I moved to New York at the beginning of August to be with my life partner Anandi, the founder and Executive Director of SustyQ (the grassroots initiative for a sustainable Queens, New York). In the middle of that same month, I attended the Landmark Forum, and two weeks ago I took the Landmark Advanced Course. Landmark gave me access to awareness of the barriers I didn’t even realize I was placing in front of myself. One of those barriers was the story that I never have enough time to do all that I want and that I’m too tired anyway. In telling myself that story, I got to justify not putting in the work of determining what I really care about and putting my focus on that. Because, see, I believe that I can do it all; I just can’t do it all at the same time. There are people in this world who are active on all kinds of social media and still are able to achieve what they want. Then, there are people who have no online presence whatsoever and yet still feel overwhelmed. Thus, success is not about unplugging; it’s about taking responsibility for the ways in which I choose to spend my time and energy. In taking responsibility and living up to my commitments I get access to the possibility of fulfillment.
I’ll be exploring this much more over the next few months and years.
I’ve been saying to myself and my girlfriend for weeks now, maybe even months now, that this digital life has become too noisy. Twitter. Facebook. Google+. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Good old fashioned email. The amount of data is potentially endless. I know that many people have already written on how to control all of these digital streams, because we can’t process everything that comes in (at least, I can’t). I’ve resonated with those kinds of articles and have actually made some positive changes over the last few months. Even so, Baratunde Thurston’s story of how he (almost entirely) unplugged from the internet for 25 days struck a chord with me. I think the reason it touched me is that it brought to the fore three questions that have been sitting underneath the surface of my “this digital life has become too noisy” thought-stream:
I’ve had a LinkedIn account for several years and a Twitter account for many months now. For the longest time, I had trouble deciding how I wanted to conduct myself on each of the two networks. Most of the time I simply shared articles on sustainability and similar topics, and I’m not convinced that this really added value for the people in my networks. However, my purchase of a smartphone a few weeks ago (welcome to the 21st century!) changed all of this. With internet connectivity available almost all of the time, I’ve been trying out new approaches to both LinkedIn and Twitter.