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How to gain control over your digital life

Source | LinkedIn | Chris Bailey | Author, Speaker, Coach

I had dinner alone at a sushi restaurant the other evening. Relishing the quiet meal, I found myself people watching. In observing my fellow sushi-eaters, I noticed a phenomenon often written about on LinkedIn. Scores of couples, friends, and families were sitting across from one another, their heads down and focused on their phones. Instead of being present in the physical world, they were instead scrolling through their digital ones.

Poking at my California rolls, I pondered the sad state of humanity. Why can’t people disconnect from the internet? How did we become addicted to our devices? Are smartphones the new cigarettes? In an appropriate bit of irony, my thoughts were interrupted by an alert from my own phone: I had reached my two-hour daily device limit. I sheepishly tapped the “Ignore Limit For Today” message, and continued with the never-ending scroll.

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that the “test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” By this measure, many of us are practicing a brilliant sort of digital doublethink. We contemplate how terrible it is that people only connect digitally—while catching up on email on our phone. We talk about how great it feels to disconnect—right before refreshing our Slack conversations. We read articles about how social media is making us unhappy—only to be triggered to check Instagram.

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