Setting Digital Boundaries
By: Brian Houchin
April 19, 2017
...and knowing how to unplug.
Guest Author: Maggie Gremminger
Community Relations Manager, Hilary’s
I took a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I was most excited this particular trip to view a personal favorite, Van Gogh’s "The Starry Night". A dozen or so feet back, I found myself behind a mini mosh pit of people whom seemed more likely to be placed front row at a Justin Bieber concert. Each person between the art and me had his or her phone out. Each person was fixated on the screen of their phone, critiquing the shot they took, and rearranging for another attempt. I waited patiently until I could move in, finally soaking up my reward and taking in the brush strokes, mere inches in front of me
Whether we fully embrace it or not, the digital era has arrived. A 2015 Gallup survey found that more than half of American smart phone owners check in a few times an hour, and many more frequently than that. The same study noted that 81% reported keeping their smart phone near them almost all the time during waking hours. So yes, that data is there, and I feel validated in believing that we are an age of people whom are actually "glued" to our devices.
We’ve embraced the online connections that we have with personal friends, family, news sources, brands, and entertainers. With a few touches, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, and while this can serve as an amazing tool, I can’t help but wonder–are we losing touch in other ways?
While we are online, what are we absorbing? Work projects, political chaos, recipe video click bait, creepily-targeted ads. Many of the things that come across our screens are crafted in ways to catch interest, and are often distracting from the original purpose for being online. It’s vital to remember that boundaries matter. In the same way we do with our relationships, your relationship with the online world you are exposed to can be greatly improved when you set some ground rules. Consider the following:
- Reevaluate your follows - Are you accidentally soaking up negative commentary due to the people/websites you’re allowing on your screen? Consider changing your homepage to something that inspires you or brings good news to the day. Unfollow that one guy who always has something extreme and triggering to say. (Goodness knows the internet will balance that good out with something dramatic.)
Finally, don’t be afraid to move one step beyond boundary-setting. Do you unplug enough? And if you do unplug, are you allowing yourself the opportunity to truly inhale and appreciate the world in front of you
- Begin better conversations - As tempting as it may be to comment, post, or tweet about the current political scandal, give yourself the chance to pause and reroute your thoughts. How can you uplift the others in your online circles, leaving them with new things to think about or feel inspired by?
Unplugging can be very difficult to do, but with practice, it can bring some peace to the crazy days of your life. Here are some great ideas for inserting a pause into your day:
- Pick up a book - Yes, a real, actual book with pages. Being away from the screens can be a fantastic way to escape to another story, encourage the practice of empathy, and feel grounded in your own life. My favorite quick reads include simple texts such as “Moments of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh or “Brave Enough” by Cheryl Strayed.
- Download a different kind of app - If you really can’t let go of the digital world, here is a great compromise. Headspace is an easily accessible app that provides scientifically proven techniques to train your mind for a healthier, happier life. The meditation guides help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Regardless of the frequency of your being online and in touch with the online world, there are all sorts of ways to improve your experience. Set those boundaries. Raise your standards for online discourse and exposure. Unplug from the near-addictive social chatter every once in awhile. Most importantly, make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
- Go for a walk - Now that fall is here, it’s the perfect weather to change your routine by being outside in nature. Studies have shown that walking can amplify your positivity and attentiveness.
About the Author:
Maggie Gremminger is a lover of all things marketing. As Community Relations Manager at Hilary's Eat Well, she embraces the opportunity to wear many hats. Maggie brings to the table a love of quality branding, effective communication, and using the right messaging to connect with audiences online. When she's not working on social strategy for the growing brand, she's always up for a little "Breaking Bad" marathon or some competitive karaoke.