I'll be sharing one or two stories a month. Unless I'm feeling lazy.
It’s only the second month of 2020, but so much has happened in the world. Slowly but gradually, the planet is evolving, and our lives are changing. I’m still struggling with my anxiety (and from conversations with friends, it seems they are too).
There are good days. Like when the sun is coming in the apartment, giving the room a warm glow that reminds me of home. Or when I take some time to watch the clouds drift in the sky, and when I’m at the beach doing absolutely nothing. But there are times (mostly at night) when my brain is running on overdrive, and I can’t stop thinking about random, irrelevant things.
It doesn’t help that whenever I look at my phone and scroll through the never-ending abyss that is social media, I see the world going to shit: deadly diseases, wildfires, natural disasters, discrimination, politics. There is a universal sense of paranoia and fear on my feed.
I used to think that replacing my consumption of the filtered lives of people with reading relevant news articles was the solution to my anxiety. I had this notion that if I substitute the content I’m reading to something more productive, I would feel a whole lot better. It took me a long time to realize that I was merely switching one unhealthy thing for another. Nothing had changed.
The problem isn’t the kind of content we consume, but the act of excessive consumption.
Social media uses an algorithm that displays content based on what you regularly engage with. It suggests topics that you likely are interested in. As a designer, I see this as a brilliant feature that keeps people’s attention for as long as possible and helps them find relevant content easily.
But when everything’s so easy to get, we become greedy, consuming more than we need. In our haste to see the next suggested content, we forget to pause and reflect on what we just learned. We read headlines but skip the content.
If technology is making things more efficient for us, making our lives easier, giving us free time to do other things, then why is it causing us so much anxiety? The sad thing is that we’ve accepted this habit of instant consumption that we’ve carried it offline. Our brains are continually active, and at the end of the day, we’re mentally exhausted.
We need to slow down, to leave room to breathe, to think, to absorb. In the age of instant consumption, maybe we need to take a step back, go for a walk outside, and watch the clouds drift in the sky.