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How to Dial Back Your Screen Time and Survive Social Media in Quarantine

Readymade Feelings

Readymade Feelings

One of the hidden dangers of technology is how your complex thoughts can be distilled and shortened into an emoji (like a heart or a thumbs up).

Most people, especially youngsters, are not being articulate with their feelings when they have readymade shortcuts to convey their emotions.

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How to Dial Back Your Screen Time and Survive Social Media in Quarantine

How to Dial Back Your Screen Time and Survive Social Media in Quarantine

https://www.gq.com/story/cal-newport-screen-time-coronavirus

gq.com

6

Key Ideas

Surviving Screens In Isolation

There are many people self-isolating due to the escalating pandemic, with their phones being the essential link to the outside world. Technology becomes a double-edged sword, connecting and isolating us at the same time, leading to anxiety-related disorders, and extremely short attention spans.

The Distraction Spiral

Technology, just like the mind, is a very good slave, but a bad master. The technologies by itself are life-giving and useful, but if we are spending the whole day on Twitter, fighting with whoever we don’t agree with, we are ruining our psychological health.

We tend to spiral into the news black hole for hours, but just looking at the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post once or twice a day should be enough.

Accidental Benefits Of Technology

Technology is neutral by itself, and how we use that tool matters. 

  • An email is a great tool, which completely transformed how an office works, though it wasn’t designed for offices.
  • Similarly, the Facebook Like button was designed as a shortcut to writing a good comment, but it unexpectedly turned out to be a tool to measure the popularity of a post.

Solitude In The Age Of Distraction

Spending time alone with your thoughts is extremely crucial, but is increasingly difficult. When you sit with yourself and understand your thought stream you structure your experiences and create a ‘bridge’ of your life and where you want to go.

Without spending solitary time with ourselves we are just adrift with where pop culture, media, and the attention economy takes us.

Readymade Feelings

One of the hidden dangers of technology is how your complex thoughts can be distilled and shortened into an emoji (like a heart or a thumbs up).

Most people, especially youngsters, are not being articulate with their feelings when they have readymade shortcuts to convey their emotions.

Speed Isn't Always Good

There is a misguided notion that speed and efficiency are inherently better. For a few things, fast is fine (like a faster dish cleaner). Being exposed to information in a faster way isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Example: Replying to emails faster and quicker isn’t really optimizing the work, and only increases the pseudo-work in the long run.

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Pandemics and dating

Currently, the entire world is focused on getting to know how long the pandemic will still last. One segment of the population, who is particularly exposed, is the one made up of single people.

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The threats of dating 

Dating presents threats even in normal periods of time, not to mention during a pandemic. You never know how the person from the other side of the dating application might turn out to be, now single persons have to add to this fear also the risk of contracting the virus. Trust in humankind - that is, that your partner will thoroughly wash his or her hands - is now more important than never.

The advantage of being in a relationship 

When faced with the danger of getting infected with the new virus, one might come to the conclusion that being in a relationship, which provides you with safety and the possibility to share your anxiety, might actually lead to a great feeling of comfort and less fear.

Addicted to Consuming Information
Addicted to Consuming Information

The amount of content on the Internet is huge and it’s practically impossible for us to consume it all. But we struggle with it anyway.

This creates a situation where we are constantly diges...

Information Clutter

In the case of information, reading several articles and sources on the same topic can create a lot of clutter. Because it creates internal struggles and questions:

  • What sort of information is important?
  • This post said this is important while another post said it wasn’t important. What information is relevant here?
  • What information should I internalize and apply?
The LATCH principle

... for organizing information:

  • Location: put the most relevant stuff to be within reach.
  • Alphabet: for organizing lists of people and statistics, dictionaries, and official documents.
  • Time: used when providing step by step instructions or when things have to be in chronological order.
  • Category: organize information by similarity or relatedness.
  • Hierarchy: organizing information that is used collectively to compare things.

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Vivid dreams

During the 2020 pandemic, many people anecdotally reported surreal and more vivid dreams than usual.

Some theorize that the onset of vivid imagery is a result of changing sleep schedules. O...

Stress about a global pandemic

The continuity theory of dreams hypothesizes that people dream about the stuff they're thinking about and doing while they are awake.

Some researchers believe that dreams have a functional purpose that prepares us for difficult or challenging situations when we awake.

Similar types of dreams

The biggest variables that influence your dreams have to do with your regular sleep cycles. If it is a very traumatic event, people will experience nightmares.

People are also thinking more about their dreams, which makes them remember their dreams better.

Improve Any Relationship
  • Acknowledge the opinions, feelings and needs of others
  • Be more open to suggestions and compromises
  • Give 100% of your attention to the job
  • Spend ...
Self-Control

Our logic is paired with emotion, and sometimes our emotions motivate us to make poor decisions. That's where self-control comes in.

Self-Control is difficult to produce

The main reason is that indulgence is much easier than the alternative. 

Self-control requires work. It's easier to focus on work that provides temporary satisfaction.

Boost your willpower
  • The simplest way to get better at anything is to practice. As a weekly exercise, pick something you do in excess and stop for a week. After you've practiced for several weeks, try for longer.
  •  Find Adequate Distractions as a method of self-control.
  • Take Care of Yourself so that you do not deplete your reserves.
  • Make it harder to make the wrong choice. 
  • Introduce Fear. It's easier to adjust your diet or kick a habit if you truly believe it's going to kill you or cause immediate harm.
Personal Space
Personal Space

Most of us have a certain distance that we like others to keep from others, depending on who the other person is. This is probably skewed now in 2020 when we are told to keep a safe distance from e...

From Person To Person

Personal space varies from one person to another, with many factors in play like how well we know the person, the relationship and trust, along with your culture.

People living in small towns and wide-open spaces prefer a bigger personal space, while new yorkers are probably used to having people in their bubble most of the time.

The Factors Determining Personal Space

The factors that determine a comfortable personal space: the gender of the two people, the professional or personal relationship, nature of the relationship (friendly or romantic), one’s customs and culture.

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Digital minimalism

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The principles of digital minimalism
  1. Clutter is costly. Digital minimalists recognise that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.
  2. Optimisation is important.To truly extract the full potential benefit of a technology, it’s necessary to think carefully about how you’ll use it.
  3. Intentionality is satisfying. Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies.
Our relationship with technology

"The underlying behaviours we hope to fix are ingrained in our culture, and […] they’re backed by powerful psychological forces that empower our base instincts. To re-establish control, we need to move beyond tweaks and instead rebuild our relationship with technology from scratch, using our deeply held values as a foundation." - Cal Newport

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Being in Lockdown or in a quarantine complicates dating in unexpected ways, raises some previously unheard questions (like who’s got a more ‘apocalypse’ friendly place) and makes partners feel as if they are already in the boring part of a relationship without any of the initial romance or spark.

Love During Quarantine
  • Constantly sharing updates about the pandemic with your new partner is not a good idea.
  • Social distancing etiquette (hello elbow bumps) may feel awkward, and FaceTime video chats can feel a bit too intimate and over-the-top after a while, as the other person is still a practical stranger.

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No More Gym Visits

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Home Work Outs

Burpees are a quick push-up and jump combination that can be done easily on a flat surface. It’s a good idea to start with five to ten of them, and then challenge yourself with 100 in one go.


Air squats are an effective basic lower body exercise that can be done anywhere and combined with push-ups, mountain climbers and lunges, become a full body work out.

Work Out Creativity

Simple movements can be made challenging and more effective by holding them at key positions(like the bottom movement of a squat), making the muscles work harder. Any exercise that gets your heart pumping and makes you uses oxygen as fuel for the muscles is a cardio exercise.


Home furniture, like a chair, can be used to support your squats and also your upper body during tricep dips. For weights, broomsticks or jugs full of water can be used.


Keep washing your hands, eating healthy, and hydrating yourself, while getting plenty of sleep.