27 April 2012

Simple Living Tip: Spend Less TIme Online

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza.

So much of our lives take place online! Mine definitely does and personally, I enjoy it. After all, a well connected desktop is nothing short of a magical portal open to the world.  This is pretty tantalizing; the addictive clicking, flash reading, and networking - and the fact that everybody else is doing it - keep us charmed, making it hard to justify staying away. 

Illustration by Anabel Bouza

I recently went without Internet for a few weeks. Sure, I was looking forward to some good old web silence (usually it means a lot gets done!), yet this break turned out to be more productive and nourishing than I had anticipated. It was liberating. I came out with a sense of renewed self-awareness, and a clearer mind.

However, this didn't come without having to identify some very real withdrawal symptoms first. 

You know the feeling: the old scattered brain keeps suggesting that you look up random bits of capricious, pointless information; it sends you down random rabbit holes until you no longer remember what you were looking for to begin with. The result? All focus, shattered. The day's creative energy, eroded. 

I was a little surprised to discover that my routine of checking multiple inboxes & message boards, darting from one regular site to the next, and unnecessarily repeating the procedure shortly after, had actually become a well-learned physical pattern, almost like a dance. 

Illustration by Anabel Bouza

Without the online clatter (of which we're aware, even when not participating) my inner dialogue was able to better travel across the Alps of my brain. Once I made peace with not being able to traipse in-and-out of the web at my heart's compulsion, I was effectively forced to see my own threads of thought to their end.  

From now on, as an experiment, I've decided to cut down all online access to only three days a week. It will hurt a little, at first, but I'm very curious to see what this shift will yield.

Much has been said about the possibility that spending excessive time online may, in fact, be altering our brains' chemistry —rewiring us. We're the first generation to sustain social lives online as well as in the real world. In a way, we're pioneers of a much unexplored frontier, with its own rules, dangers. 

Think about it... it's pretty exhilarating!

The long-term effects of this reckless "pioneering" of ours are not fully understood, so the answer to questions like "How much is too much?" will differ from one person to the next. 

The noble task of exploring these limits belongs to us, individually.

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of her husband & a turtle; they're new to the city of Chicago, and they love it. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.