Today I am starting a new series about taking back control of what you can. When chronic conditions start to infiltrate every part of your life, you can feel like you are losing control or have others make all the choices for you. This series is about regaining a bit of control in areas that are manageable and make a huge difference, even if it is just a mental change about how you see it. I hope you enjoy it!
A few years ago, before boundaries became a ‘thing’, I read a post by the business genius Seth Godin called ‘Your Kitchen Table’ about online boundaries. This story has stuck with me ever since and reminds me that what we see online also requires us to decide whether we want this content in our lives or not.
“You open the door and the vacuum cleaner salesperson comes in, and dumps a bag of trash in your living room.
Or a neighbour sneaks in the back door and uses a knife to put gouges on the kitchen table.
Or, through the window, someone starts spraying acid all over your bookshelf…
Why are you letting these folks into your house?
Your laptop and your phone work the same way. The reviews and the comments and the breaking news and the texts that you read are all coming directly into the place you live. If they’re not making things better, why let them in?
No need to do it to yourself, no need to let others do it either.”– Your Kitchen Table, Seth Godin
The moral of the story is that we would get upset and angry about people who dump their physical trash on our kitchen table, but we are less careful about what online information we let into our minds.
So this is your annual reminder to review what your online world looks like, to consider if it is good for you and if you need to make some changes. Here are a few things that have helped me regain control over my online experience.
We are conditioned to do whatever we are told to do by a platform and we forget that they are able to customise it to choose what we see and how we interact with it. Don’t get overruled by apps or the internet on telling you of what you should be looking at. Sometimes we need to get off the suggested and recommended user experience and content, and create something that works for our own preferences. A good example of this is Facebook Memories, a daily reminder of what happened on this day in previous years. Now this is great for reminiscing on old times, but when those memories aren’t positive or remind you of a time when you were more active, social or healthy, it can be a daily mood downer. Switch off the automatic notifications and posts, and look at it manually in the menu when you are in a stable mood and prepared for what you might see.
Your attention is the most precious resource that every platform is trying to get. YOU get to choose what you do with your attention. Especially when you are dealing with a chronic condition or fatigue, your attention and energy are valuable resources! You want to make sure what limited energy you have goes towards things that you want to do or see or interact with. Go online just to find what you want and get off. Getting lost down the rabbit hole of the internet is rarely a good thing unless that is your intention and you have the time and energy for it.
To add to the energy in your attention bank, please turn notifications off. Anyone with mental fog, fatigue, pain or any physical bodily distraction will tell you that it can be so hard to hold your attention on one task and gain deep focus. Notifications are the equivalent of your phone physically hitting you in the head. It’s pure bliss without them pinging away all day!
It’s good to think of your online content like a healthy diet – What are you consuming? Is your social media diet healthy? With a few treats included? How does it make you feel afterwards? Why did you want to check it in the first place? Take note of your reactions while using social media and how you feel when you decide to leave the apps. Quality over quantity of accounts that you follow can help you feel connected and less overwhelmed with trying to keep up with everyone (we already feel a little left behind in a lot of areas in our life, why would we add to the comparison trap). Which can lead us to edit regularly and curate, while being aware of echo chambers. It’s good for all of us to see a variety of social media, especially people like us in similar circumstances, and the complete opposite!
Please let me know in the comments section if you have any other tips on the online world!
Take care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.