Unsubscribe back into life


Recently I added another level to my digital detox.

I noticed every morning I checked my email I was getting flooded with requests from the subscribed emails that were taking away from my professional work and personal engagement. I looked deeper into the emails and realized two things: First, they are all looking for me to consume more information or material. I don’t necessarily need either because of a lack of relevance they offered (for example that coupon for free shipping NOW), or countless other reasons. And more important, seeing emails sent to me was giving me a false sense of importance, busy feeling, an energy drain and a false connection to the digital world rather than my real world.

So I took it upon myself to Unsubscribe from dare I say it… (blogs… newsletters, subscriptions to coupons and companies luring me to something “THEY” think I may find useful). I noticed much of the emails were outdated to my personal needs and potentially fueling an internal debate within myself about the need for more consumption. And by doing this Unsubscribing I gained 20 minutes back everyday.

Over the course of a week I counted 60 or more newsletters, blogs, subscriptions, coupons and emails that were attempting to get my attention. It has been a unique experience in learning about another level of distraction our digital culture has created. Don’t get me wrong, blogs like the one I am writing to you can give you a new perspective and insight (if relevant to your needs at the moment) and it might not; and they can also log jam the shit out of your life. So that is why I’m encouraging you to evaluate your email box. Just like a seasonal cleaning of your garage or closet, your email box needs attention too.

Create or contemplate rather than consume

It’s not news to you or anyone that Amazon is the largest company on the planet (consumption). It’s also not rocket science we consume more information due to the computer, Internet and cellphones compared to our ancestors. We are AVERAGING over 2 hours a day on social media and many people much more… And it’s been said; we consume as much as 170 Sunday newspapers of information a day. (for those that don’t remember, Sunday papers are the ones with cartoons and ads)

The 1st Ask

Take time to Unsubscribe to 5 email requests, apps or offers that are not personally needed today. And then do it again each day for a week. Clear out the clutter. Then… Take that time to create and contemplate in the world.

This week’s 1st challenge: create, contemplate rather than consume

· Find time to create space for reflection

· Write in a journal

· Create art or express yourself through movement

· Discover the world by getting outside and simply doing things

· Go a week without consuming news or information - rather call a friend

False connections vs. sincere communication and companionship

*My opinion on defining the terms connection and conversation- a connection is digital and filled with the idea that we understand the person, know the person, and are deeply woven with a person. This is a traditional term that has become more common with the digital age. Contrary to connection, conversation and companionship are more physically established. You are able to see a person, watch body language and tone of voice from the person.

So, what about the feelings of importance or connections we have created? Great question. I believe there is a difference between false connection and sincere communication and companionship.

A major obstacle of the digital world is the feeling of being “on-call” to the relationship; for example, an immediate response to an email, text or social media picture. It’s a fallacy that needs to be fixed with a paradigm shift in your thinking. Friendship and companionship evokes a different emotional state based of the physical proximity we have evolved to enjoy with thousands of years of evolution and being together. Simply broken down, connection is an internal mental trap of now, now, now, you are accessible answer and conversation and companionship is present moment and actively managing moment by moment. (Think of the time when your friend was lost in texting someone for a long period of time all the while you sat with him or her.)

Being a friend and engaging has become being consumed by a false connection that you are important to them, and it must be done with consistent reassurance and urgency, not just the friends we perceive we have but the consumption people are asking of you with every email and request.

Let me ask you the million-dollar question… Who are the people you can count on when things get tough? How many are there? It’s ok I feel the same way. It’s a quick reality check to remember it’s traditionally not the Facebook friends or the social media friendship.

The 2nd Ask:

Call people, encourage conversation via digital video platforms and if possible in today’s unprecedented time of COVID-19 practice companionship with social distancing in mind.

This weeks 2nd challenge: Blackout the news and “don’t Like” the posts.

· If you are interested in what’s going on with the news and you want to be informed, rather than DOOM SCROLL the day away – call a friend and ask how they are and what their day is like. Transparently, you will know when the zombie apocalypse has hit. Take a day or two away from connecting and reconnect your reality.

· When you feel obligated to “Like” or “Love” or even “Comment” on a post, I again encourage the idea of reaching out, talking and sharing your appreciation with the person.

This is not an invitation to ignore and avoid anything, rather a request to unsubscribe from the digital and live in the reality of your life. The state of today presents a quandary. The more you subscribe the less necessary reality is to you. I want to offer a compromise that respects both your obligation to be “on call” and your human craving for real conversation and companionship: UNSUBSCRIBE back into life.

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a clinical psychologist and licensed family therapist that specialize in sexual trauma, porn addiction, Internet addiction and relationships. You can reach him at healingsoulsllc.com or by email ryanwestrum@gmail.com

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© 2016 Healing Souls, LLC.