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  • Charlie Ranken

1. [making a conscious plan]

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

As we sat down to dinner, my husband began scrolling on his phone in a bid to find the Guardian article he was reading earlier that day, '100 ways to slightly improve your life.' His aim was to find and read the wise words of 91. As you can tell by the number, he had to read the majority to find his greatest way of improving life, according to him. Apart from the fact I already do number 8 (and number 17, I just can't agree on) what struck me were the ones about screens and social media. Number 26 is about setting time limits on your apps, 34 go for a walk without your phone, 38 sleep with your phone in a different room, 42 don't have Twitter on your phone, 71 switch you phone off when you go on holiday, it continues. There are quite a few.

It has become clear to me that even though in the past, I have decided to make choices about technology, its sustainability has been fickle. My choices change regularly depending on circumstance and need which I don't think is massive problem, if you are aware to change back, or review and move forwards. I have found myself, my habits, my brain, my body, finding comfort in an automatic mode that puts technology first. And when I say technology, I mean my phone and everything within it.

On New Year's Eve 2021, I posted on my social media the following: '2022 is just around the corner and with the discovery, that most of us in the near future will need to think about and create positive and 'conscious plans around tech' (Russel Brand 6:50 see comment for link) in the same way we think about mental health and make decisions about self care, I have made some decisions.' This was the first time I had heard someone highlight the need for a plan for the way we use our technology, looking at how it aids us and how's it imprisons us. It validated the feeling I had that I was being slowly taken over by an 'other' force and, not shockingly, I was the instigater. I was too far in. 'It' was too ingrained in society to take a lent-like action, it needed an approach that acknowledged its benefits and pulled us up on behaviours that were sucking life out of other healthy areas. I, we, need cyber health plans.

I have been rewired. My usage or method of using technology without a plan has meant I'm losing my ability to pay attention, my ability to actually give my life, my time. 'Your attention didn't collapse. It was stolen.' is another Guardian article that speaks of the fact that social media and modern life is destroying our ability to concentrate. The article speaks of college students only being able to focus for 65 seconds on one task, office workers only three. That we are constantly having to reconfigure our brains when going from one task to another which means we are not balancing a range of socials media platforms well but constantly juggling, extending the time our brains need to catch up (apparently called the cost-switch effect) and taking time away from the main focus of what we are doing.

I am not sure what the details of my conscious plan will look like but I've decided I need one. A plan says to me ' I realise that technology is needed, that I can't pretend it isn't there and I need to work out how I can use it to my advantage and create healthy aspirations around how I use it.

As a creative freelancer, being able to follow a train of thought or someone else's, hold onto the magical, create and focus on an adventure that inspires others and even educating others in the importance of the arts is crucial. When attention spans are not only depleted but shorten, when the screen has more of your time than creative critical thinking, reading, drawing, dancing and the cyber images of other peoples careers/lives steal you of your own, creativity is lost, fragile and broken. Well, mine is.

Here are my endeavours so far:

  • Focus on one platform - LinkedIn

  • Write blogs. Focus on one thing and then spread the link

  • Read books. Discuss them in audio form

Do you have a conscious plan regarding tech? As a freelancer/artist what are the advantages of platforms? Where does it catch you out? What tips have you collected? Is there a need for a plan or is it just laziness or no self control? Are we as a society at the mercy of social media and it's so called benefits? Russell Brand & Ben Shapiro "Respectfully Disagreeing"

Just incase you haven't seen - this is where my brain starting musing the idea of taking control of my technological decisions - December 2021 Plymouth

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