Should we put ourselves on a digital diet?

Should we put ourselves on a digital diet?

How many times do we eat in front of a screen? How many times have we used an OTT platform to lull us to sleep? It is possible that the real diet must be on screens and the screen time we’re fed on

I have been on some kind of food restrictive diet for as long as I can remember (except in college, when hostel kindly did that for me): a gut-friendly diet, an asthma diet, even an auto-immune diet. Some years ago, when I read The Grain Brain I put myself on a gluten-free diet swearing that wheat was killing me, while often binge-eating bread and butter — that comfort food when the emotional brain overpowers the logical one.

Sometime later, I approached a naturopath for constipation (yes, yes, I am your mother’s age) who asked me to skip grain at dinner. Then I went dairy free, night-shade veggie free, red-meat free, sugar-free (wait, that’s a brand name) in turn. Ironically, I never felt free. Instead, I felt bound by choices my mind had made for my body. Looking back, there were only two foods I’d eliminated that helped: gluten and sugar.

Of late, I have realised that the real diet must be on screens and the screen time we’re fed on. How many times have we been on our laptops, while also checking our phones? How many times do we eat in front of a screen? How many times have we used an OTT platform to lull us to sleep?

A diet of online chatter, which ironically involves the eyes and mind rather than the ears and mouth, is what keeps me distracted from life through the day. I read something online and think (overthink) about it, rather than listening or speaking and feeling for the friend I’m chatting with. My emotions then, are bent through the lens of what someone has posted on social media rather than what someone says to me.

It’s like Chinese Whisper at a deeper level. Say someone on Instagram posts a video of an early morning run, extolling her followers to also get up and get some exercise in the park (hashtag vitamin N, hashtag vitamin D). I may perceive it (often do) as a post directed at me (because I’ve been in bed sleeping until 8 am). I now feel guilt. Now imagine if a friend had called me at 7 am, asking me to join her while she stepped out for a walk in the park, I’m much more likely to do that. I hear her voice, I respond to her friendship and the fact that she’s reaching out to me.

Since the festive season will soon be upon us, and the pandemic has changed the way we shop mindlessly, my endeavour for the rest of this year is to have more conversations (sans judgement) with people I know, love, or like, and fewer interactions with my phone that introduces me to people I don’t know and really couldn’t care less about.

I will be going on a digital diet. Would you like to join me?

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