By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Learning to disconnect digital excesses

A 6-month blog exploring paths to "digital balance"

Do you have any digital addictions? How about family and friends? Do you ever see too much attention being diverted into the worlds of telecommunications, computers, cell phones, digital games or social media?

This is a place for considering ways to “unplug” from those diversions. Not completely, but at least partially; not alone, but with a little bit of information, help and encouragement from others.

Readers can browse the brief posts and links to outside articles … post comments you think might benefit others ... and tell about ideas, goals, plans, failures and success stories from pursuits for digital balance.


Post #1 -- The Introduction:

May 2022 N-R column introducing blog -- "Beginning journey to 'digital balance'" 

Ideas promoting digital minimalism


Post #2 -- Step 1 begins with realistic reflection

Step 1 of “unplugging” begins with realistic reflection on where you are, and where you want to be.

Think about positive digital functionalities and conveniences and entertainments you want to retain, albeit with more self-control; consider excessive habits to change; if it applies, reflect honestly on digital addictions that interrupt more rewarding personal interactions and which, taken to extremes, can jeopardize mental health.

Step 1 should be a constant background to the real work of unplugging.

Meanwhile, my efforts on self-control over digital conveniences will start by reducing unwanted access to my own digital world. Here are a few actions – as always, more suggestions welcomed.

            ** More aggressive use of “block sender” tags on incoming emails.

            ** Blocking mail from entire IP addresses, perhaps off-shore areas with servers that have produced worldwide onslaughts of phishing and virus-infected email scams.

            ** Elimination of email from cell phone.

            ** Education on privacy settings for phones and computers that can reduce unwanted intrusions without eliminating valuable conveniences.

 There are so many more, but it’s a start.


Post #3 -- Make an early 'replacement plan'

It occurs to me that digital “unplugging” by itself may be counter-productive unless you have some worthwhile activities to plug back into.

More reading? More time with family and friends? A new hobby? How about finally doing a hundred unfinished (or even unstarted) things you say you want to do?

I suspect it actually works best in reverse order … start diving into some items on your short-term bucket list, and maybe some of those digital-based pastimes will become easier-to-discard distractions from more fulfilling pursuits.

Wanting to change is a good start, but making a plan is better.


Post #4 – Time for a progress check:

So far, my “unplug” successes are fewer than hoped-for, but I’m not giving up.

It should be easy: Just turn off the computer and throw away the smart phone. In other words -- at least in my case -- retire!

Total abstinence is not an option. But even targeted behavior modification – as with all addictions – is easier said than done.

       ** Two months into this experiment, email still rules too much of my time. One reason is unavoidably fast timelines for critical communications; another is the need for written records to augment memory and maintain accuracy; but some of it is an obsession to respond to written messages received. On the other hand, I’ve blocked 853 email addresses from displaying messages in my In Box. I used to hit “Unsubscribe” buttons, but that just confirmed that messages got through. So, in about 5 seconds, I open and tag emails as “Blocked.”

       ** Internet research remains a compulsion. I spent 2 hours last week scanning user reviews of cappuccino machines, coming away more confused than when I started. That wouldn’t be necessary if Taylor-Dale Hardware was still open! However, my online research on things not readily available in town has produced some great product-finds over the years. So, at best, I’ll try to moderate that activity.

While that work-in-progress continues, I’ll take a look next at some other digital addictions that consume a lot of young lives around us.


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