THE BLOG

Has the Internet Hardwired You With Bad Habits?

15/05/2016 19:12 | Updated 15 May 2016

I spend three times longer online a day than I do sleeping. Fact.

My iPhone is never out of arm's reach, any vicinity without Wi-Fi is a no, and I'm well lensed when it comes to Snapchat.

In my professional capacity I use buzzwords like: buzzword, storytelling, leverage and influencers. My first job in the industry was with a start-up called Goviral.

I love what I do; I thrive in the immediacy of digital and its capacity for reach. I think the fact that the internet, and social media, allows us all to be publishers in our own right - all equal participants in global conversations/communities - is amazing. As is the significant shift in the way brands now communicate directly with consumers. Brands that have power and pull on a commercial level do so as a result of solid 360-degree strategy that blurs the lines between on and offline. Clicks and mortar.

Working in digital and social media means being always on, always responsive and quick to devise a trend (and jump on the back of one) with a creative campaign that has content at its centre.

The thing is, I've developed these habits. The kind of habits that fuel features like "How social media is ruining your life", "Depressed? Get the fuck off Instagram" and "Social media does not make you happy, sad face".

I have absolutely no desire to look "Instagram ready" nor do I suffer from pangs of FOMO sparked from x blogger's latest jaunt. I do, however, need that access. That information. That window which gives me a look at the good stuff: edgy, independent publications, new brands, artists, photographers, friends, old colleagues, sister. Think considered scrolling with just a hint of neurosis.

So these habits, the habits that now have the holding power (and hideousness) of Donald Trump's comb-over, are starting to affect my personal life and, dare I say it, wellbeing.

I get home late after a day flitting between tabs open in my browser, and an hour (minimum) commute spent scrolling/switching between accounts. I then delay showering/eating/socialising so that I can catch up on what I may have missed across social. Instagram's algorithm update? No chronological news feed? Golden in my eyes because it evens the score.

I literally look down all the time. We have become a look down generation, void of eye contact and passing conversation. I can't walk to or from the station/office/shop/pub without checking my notifications which then spark an urgency to respond and engage. I'm dismissive of, and frustrated by strangers. I'm grumpy and permanently tired. All the time keeping up the happy facade online.

Innocent, that smoothie brand with all the social banter, recently conducted a survey of 2,000 Brits which revealed the average adult spends the equivalent of 20 weeks a year in front of a digital screen. I do that bare minimum, I 100% get separation anxiety when without iPhone.

Having attended a habits workshop hosted by Swedish design brand kikki.K recently, I was forced to identify the seriousness of these routine habits and what triggers them. For me it's a culmination of timing, company (nada) and worthier distraction.

Research has shown that it takes 66 days to form a good habit. Obviously I'm sceptical, but even writing this piece has highlighted the fact that I need to implement change.

Action points so far include: no phone past 10pm, taking an actual lunch break, audio books for my commute and a Post-It note on my desk that reads "Honey you got to slow down". Because Little Red Corvette.

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