Topi Kettunen

Fragmented essay on computer science and art


Views on Digital Declutter

April, 2021

I have a spine of a toddler when it comes to losing countless hours to distractions. While I wouldn’t say that I have focus issues, I have noticed that I can easily spend hours on non-essential sites that don’t bring anything to my life. Social media has been one of them. I have always had a pretty weird relationship with social media. A long time ago, I joined Facebook and Instagram because many of my friends and family were already there. While I never did post stuff actively, I always noticed that I just ended up mindlessly surfing these, especially on Instagram.

A couple of years back, I became conscious about this and decided to delete my accounts on these platforms without giving too much thought about it. While leaving these platforms were pretty easy for me, I noticed that I had just replaced these with some other platform, YouTube in my case. After which, I started spending countless hours on that platform instead. For some reason, back then, I didn’t consider this habit being as bad as mindlessly browsing Instagram or Facebook despite it being the same thing. I think I just rationalized it to myself being educational or informative in a better way than other platforms.

Year or two passes without Instagram or Facebook completely fine, but then for some reason, I wanted to start using them again. Maybe I thought to myself that I had already been cured of this disease so I could have a healthy relationship with them from now on. I also had professional reasons behind this since I thought that these platforms offer a great way of marketing your art to others, which is true in some cases. Very quickly, I started noticing similar behaviour that occurred when I last was on these platforms. So after a couple of months of trying to get back in, I just felt repulsed by them and decided to leave them again. When it comes to marketing, that is just not for me. I understand the benefits of being an artist in social media. Still, since I mainly enjoy that as a passionate hobby, I don’t see the need for being on social media.

So at the time of writing this, I think it has been about six months or so of living without these. Still, I’m very conscious about my unnecessarily large usage of apps like YouTube, News etc. While comparing my use with Instagram, I still wouldn’t consider watching YouTube or regularly checking news as bad as mindlessly scrolling through your feeds. I still noticed similar behaviour on those that I was struggling with, for example, with Instagram. I became conscious about randomly picking up my phone and scrolling through news even though I had just read them or just letting YouTube’s autoplay roll for long periods without giving too much thought about it. So I wanted to tackle these habits.

I have noticed that the most extreme methods work the best when trying to fix some bad habit, at least in my case. So I didn’t want to ease when trying to have a healthy relationship with these applications but instead go cold turkey immediately. Also, to help me in this, I wrote a simple application that allows blocking distracting sites “completely”.

So how has this worked for me? I think great! In the beginning, I noticed how much free time I have when I don’t spend it on useless things. Also, in the beginning, I occasionally picked up my phone by instinct. I quickly realized that I don’t have any applications where I could spend mindlessly surfing, so I quickly grew out of this habit. First, I felt slight boredom when I couldn’t spend time on these apps, but thankfully I realized that this spare time needs to be used elsewhere. Before this, I was already reading relatively a lot, about three to four books per month, but I have almost doubled that number nowadays. I also wrote about time management between multiple passions a while ago where I pondered how I manage time between, for example, programming and music. After ditching distractive sites entirely, I have felt that the time management between these activities and my work life hasn’t been an issue. It’s straightforward to find time for various pet projects and serious work outside my work life since I don’t spend my time on useless stuff anymore.

Do I see myself using these applications in the future? Well, I want to read the news and do continue to do so, but not just constantly. I usually catch up with recent events in the morning, but I don’t desire to install any news apps on my telephone. When it comes to these streaming platforms, YouTube, Netflix, etc., I could live without them. There are lots of good information on these platforms, so if I need to watch some video, I can allow myself to do so. I don’t want them to control my life in a way that I’m not comfortable with.

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