I made a decision to log out of my Instagram account, uninstall the app, and go on indefinite hiatus today.
There are two reasons mainly. One, is that I decide to place myself within some personal crunchtime towards submitting my thesis in all its entirety. I am happy that this is going well so far, and to be honest, I am still doing well despite still logged in to Instagram, or other social media platforms. Second is perhaps to deter a more destructive habit that I have developed — that is, mindlessly scrolling through the Instagram Story of everyone in my list till I eventually fall asleep. It was ridiculous. It has come to the point that I would not be able to fall asleep without a phone in my hand. So I decided I had to do something.
I am also feeling personally, or maybe collectively, bogged down with all the terrible news in the world. The climate emergency and the indifference of our leaders and the corporations who caused this, the growing anger and grievances of people around the world — Sudan, Hong Kong, and today Kashmir, among others — against the leaders and their governments (this is pretty rich coming from a Political Sociology candidate whose area is social movements and technology), the rising fascism, oppression etc. — in short, issues that make me feel helpless. It is also my privilege that enables me to log off and be able to miss out, while there are others who live out there in constant fear, and that makes feel even more helpless.
Over the weekend I have also been thinking about the idea of being bored productively. I know, it is such a contradiction. However in three studies done by the people at Australian National University which looked at boredom’s effects on idea generation, negative emotions like anger and frustration, and differences in responses to dullness by personality types, it shows that boredom led to more creative ideas and higher productivity. But! “Only those individuals with a high learning goal orientation, high need for cognition, high openness to experience, and high internal locus of control showed a significant increase in creativity when feeling bored,” the research team found. Which means that, doing nothing still requires some effort.
How does it feel to be truly bored? To be experiencing la noia as the ‘most sublime of all human emotions‘? To be bored enough to write a poem dedicated to the feeling, describing it ‘world-weary’ and ‘soul-destroying fiend’? Or paint it? The Dutch have a word for when you don’t know how to be bored — niksen, which literally means do nothing, or be idle. “Stop doing everything right now. Congratulations, you just did a niksen. It is essentially sanctioned daydreaming.” It isn’t necessarily easy (!) as boredom can lead to rumination, and rumination can lead to increased heart rate and trouble sleeping. You know, like those 2 pm mental movies playing in your head as you tried to drift off to sleep. Trying to be bored is even hard work!
I was also initially worried about FOMO before I tried to log off Instagram just now, but I happened to stumble upon this Doug Belshaw’s blog post over tea on how to deal with this overwhelming feeling of just being, especially in this highly technologised world (“the decisions I made about tech are decisions I make about life“). He shared these commandments from Kathy Sierra’s 2006 blog post — which is surprisingly still relevant — on how to consume Internet things smartly:
- Find the best aggregators
- Get summaries
- Cut the redundancy!
- Unsubscribe to as many things as possible
- Recognise that gossip and celebrity entertainment are black holes
- Pick the categories you want for a balanced perspective, and include some from OUTSIDE your main field of interest
- Be a LOT more realistic about what you’re likely to get to, and throw the rest out.
- In any thing you need to learn, find a person who can tell you what is:
- Need to know
- Should know
- Nice to know
- Edge case, only if it applies to you specifically
In any case also, let’s turn FOMO into NOSMO — which is Jenny Odell‘s reformulation of the four-letter acronym and it stands for ‘Necessity Of Sometimes Missing Out’.