Five Ways to Reclaim your Christmas from Digital Overload


In a new book, “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age“, featured in the New York Times, Sherry Turkle presents compelling evidence that too much online conversation can damage our face to face relationships, at home and at work.

Many of us are addicted to social media – from texting to Facebook, from Instagram to Linkedin. And most of us have our smartphones still on the settings that were probably on them when we took them, all shiny new, out of the box in the store, or when they arrived in the mail.

These “default” settings alert us every time we receive a message, a reply or there has been some kind of action pin our social media world.

George has added you…
Many has commented …
Fred has replied
Congratulations! Your stats are booming!

Every time the phone vibrates or the screen lights up, whatever we are doing physically is interrupted digitally. We are distracted from listening to our child, from something a friend or a work colleague saying to us. we stop looking out of the window, or our thoughts are invaded by an alert. Our head turns towards the device, away from the person in front of us; our eyes dart suddenly towards the ring tone or vibrating phone. For a moment we look furtive, like a predator and, sometimes, like the one being hunted.

The result is that our concentration falters and our relationships woith those we care about, those directly in front of us, are degraded, even spoiled.

And it is very likely to happen on Christmas Day.

As we divide our attention between physical and digital, digital often wins. Even when we choose not to answer, not to look, our concentration has already been shot to pieces by needing to make the decision “not to”.

When we choose “not to”, we can actually become less stressed, more satisfied and productive.

There is increasing evidence that we actually get far more from our digital life if we place it more mindfully. When we become the more conscious and self-disciplined controllers of our digital devices, we become more satisfied and productive, less stressed and distracted.

Here are five ways t do it, and they might just improve your Christmas Day as well.

5 Ways to Reclaim your Christmas from Digital Overload

1. Set alerts and notifications on your various devices – your smartphones, tablets and smart watches,  to off. Then you will have to use your win will power to decide when to check in on your digital world. After a while you may feel more productive, relaxed and in control. On Christmas day, prioritise the people in the room and then make more conscious decisions to connect digitally, rather than be “always on”.

2. Choose times of the day when you check all of your social media. Don’t let it interrupt face to face conversations with family and friends. The family could all choose an hour when they go online at the same time. The room goes silent and we go online together, even if we are doing different things. This can be a very social thing to do and ensure that meal times aren’t interrupted, and that there isn’t always at least one family member disengaged from the physical. Spend one hour on Christmas Day when you full dive in digitally. Enjoy it, immerse yourself and have fun. But then come out. Leave your smartphone and table out of the the bedroom, away from mealtimes, and don’t use it while you poop.

3. Drop the habit of trying to capture every moment with your phone camera. Be more selective and look carefully at what is in front of you before you click the take a picture button. You will feel more satisfied and value your digital content more. Less is more in both the physical and digital world, especially when we are surrounded by stimulation of images, sounds and words. On Christmas day, choose your picture-taking more consciously and go with the principle that less is more.

4.If you have received digital gadgets as presents, don’t get bogged down in setting them up and getting lost in inexplicable instructions. It may be better to get things set up the day after Christmas. Certainly don’t get stressed or so tied up that you lose most of your day to frustration.

5. Have a digital clear out. Delete apps you don’t use, back up photos and delete ones you don’t want to keep. De-clutter your digital life and make head space as well as memory space for the new. It can be very refreshing to do this in the run up to Christmas, and also first thing in the new year. Either way, on Christmas Day, try to have a day where things are simpler, calmer, less cluttered and over-complicated.

All of these tips give you back control over your digital and your physical life. By reducing distraction and digital clutter, but finally talking on the pull of constant notifications and alerts you might just have a happier and more fulfilling Christmas, as well as a more productive and less stressed out new year. Enjoy the day properly – it is only once a year!

Oh, and of course, by a friend or loved one a copy of Digital Inferno this Christmas and help them become the real masters of their digital lives.



About Paul Levy

Paul is a writer, thinker, facilitator, theatre-maker, and conversifier. He is the author of the book, Digital Inferno.

Posted on December 12, 2015, in Key themes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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