Switching Off As A Radical Act

by | Jul 23, 2021 | The Movement | 3 comments

The internet makes the work of the ethical move possible.

As our team grew across continents over the past year, digital tools allowed us to function.

  • Thanks to Zoom we can hang out together even though Alice is eating a very early breakfast while Dimitra’s about to go to bed in Singapore.
  • Thanks to Slack, we can be part of day-to-day team communications almost as if we were in the same office.
  • Thanks to Notion, we can track projects, collate ideas and co-work in a productive way.
  • Thanks to social media, we can spread the word about ethical marketing and connect with others who share our goals (and those with other viewpoints).
  • Thanks to the ever-growing body of research available online, we could learn so much faster about anti-racism, accessibility, psychological manipulation and all the other topics we care about.

That said, without the internet, would our movement be needed at all?

Manipulation in marketing started way before the internet, but the tech revolution has accelerated the harm it causes.

Never before has the nudges to buy and use more been louder or more harmful.

Checking Our Devices

For all the good it does, there’s no doubt that the devices we use are designed to make us feel like we can’t live without them.

Yesterday I unlocked my phone 49 times (I probably picked it up loads more than that as my phone doesn’t automatically lock after each use).

Picking up my phone is not a conscious choice each time. There is usually a psychological prompt – in the case of me, yesterday: 502 notifications.

Over 500 times yesterday, my phone told me that I missed something, that someone wanted to show me something or that there was something worthy of my attention.

I have no doubt that these notifications took me away from meaningful work, activities and conversations.

Why do we do it?

 

A black and white image of a person whose left hand is resting on the keyboard of the laptop on their lap. The person is holding a phone in their right hand and is using their thumb to scroll through information on the screen.

Original image by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

Should We Always Be On?

As a small business owner, I’m constantly told that in 2021 we need to be always on. Always available. Always on the lookout for the next opportunity.

The oppressive systems in which we operate tell us there’s not enough for everyone, putting us on constant high alert for any opportunities or threats.

We don’t dare turn off notifications, in case a client email comes in and our failure to reply immediately means they take their business elsewhere.

We keep a presence on all social media platforms, and go on holiday with one eye on our social media inbox … just in case.

We remain glued to screens under the pretext of protecting our livelihoods or staying in touch with people.

But in the process, are we losing our connection with ourselves and our wellbeing?

Taking Care of Our Wellbeing

My client and friend Paul Jardine has embraced digital minimalism over the past six months, and he has written extensively about its benefits.

Some of the advantages include better sleep and concentration, improved relationships with clients and loved ones, and more time spent doing wholesome activities such as gardening and cooking good meals.

I plan to take inspiration from Paul and others and use the next four weeks to reset my use of digital tools and devices.

The wider ethical move team will also focus on wellbeing in the next month. We will have fewer meetings and create less content. Some of us are going on holiday, and some are spending more time on their business.

We know we will come back refreshed in September, with renewed energy and ideas, ready for the next stage in our work.

In a digital world that demands attention every second, we embrace rest as a radical act.

We would love to know: how do you take care of your digital wellbeing?

 

3 Comments

  1. Sas

    I do the exact same thing. I’ve read Digital Minimalism by Kal Newport and decided August will be the best month to take a break. I teach about sustainability and sustainable businesses and I practice what I preach showing that my person needs to be sustained too. I need time to rest, think and be creative. And I am 100% positive that that will contribute to growth more than the social media treadmill. Happy summer all!!

    Reply
    • the ethical move

      Oh beautiful, thank you for your response. That’s exactly how we feel too. Let’s all walk the talk!!

      Reply
  2. Fanny

    I must admit that is not a problem I feel a lot.

    I think, when I was young, I played a lot of video games and took the habit to switch off and take regular breaks. I kept those habits and that definitely helps me today.

    So each time I receive a new type of notification or email, I think (it takes only one second) about whether I really need it. Most of the time, I deactivate the notification or unsubscribe to the newsletter. It can go as far as removing the app from my phone or completely block the email address so that I don’t receive any notification/email.

    Our time is our most valuable asset, let’s take good care of it (whatever that means to each of us) 🙂

    Reply

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