Last week I decided to shut all the streams of political news and information. The purpose was to take a hiatus from all kind of information related to politics or world affairs. I wanted to confirm that knowing everything happening around me is not necessary and I am not the center of this universe, thus, if I do not know something, it will not stop working.
This is not the first time I was doing, in the past, I have taken such breaks or I say, semi-breaks. This time it was different in a way that I was not only blocking all info from my laptop but also from mobile hence blocking WhatsApp messages from all those who are regularly sending political updates. I removed their messages without opening, irrespective of whether they were political or useful. Thanks to the WhatsApp feature of blurred preview of images, I was spared viewing something unexpected thus helped me to remove such images instantly. On my MacBook, I updated the
hosts file which currently looks like below((yeah I was so strict or dare I say, I was scared):
As you can see, besides social media websites I also have blocked news websites.
It was not easy, especially for a person like me who religiously follows local and global politics and when lots of political circuses happening around you in local and global scenes. I took efforts in the first couple of days. It was not that my plate was empty. I performed the routine tasks as I do, there was no change in it. The thing which I noticed that my mind was not wandering much like it used to. There was less context switching. My brain was not experiencing any kind of impact which you often feel for minutes or even hours after reading/watching some news. There was no more urge to know what’s happening now. No more urge of knee-jerk reaction or even a knee-jerk thought after reading/watching something. I was more in the present state of mind. I was experiencing things actually present around me than ever. When I was not working, I rather spent time reading books or just sitting idle and experiencing what’s happening around me or kids’ funny activities back at home. I will not claim to be productive as such, my work performance was not increased up to 2X or 3X but… I was no more wishing like Ghalib who said the famous couplet:
Jee Dhoondtha Hey Phir Wohi Fursat Key Raat Din
Bethey Rahain Tassawur-e-Janan Kiye Huway
(I LONG AGAIN FOR FREE TIME DURING THE DAYS AND NIGHTS
WHEN ALL I USED TO DO WAS THINKING ABOUT MY LOVER- Translation Source)
What I had pretty much attained was the mental stillness which Ryan Holiday discusses in his recent book, Stillness is the Key.
In one of the Chapters Holiday talks about how Napoleon had instructed his subordinates not to send him every other info besides authentic channels. He did not want to keep himself available for all kind of information.
Napoleon limited his input, Ryan Holidays suggest the same. This is what I actually did. I blocked many of my brain’s incoming ports. Am I happier and more content than before? Yes. Have I detoxified my mind from digital waste? Yes, pretty much!
As I am writing these lines, I still do not know what’s happening in political worlds. The sun still shines daily, birds still sing and chirp in the morning, the moon still mesmerizes with its beauty. Nothing changed. I am not the center of this universe. I am not the main object of the information going around us. My opinions who I share on different platforms don’t matter to others.
Will I continue this movement? probably not, not easy either but definitely worth trying for a certain period of time. Try it, even for a day or a few hours. You will realize that the world around you is more beautiful than the world you had illusioned in your mind. The people around you need to hear and see you more often than the people on social platforms who do not give a damn on what you say all the time. Try it, you will thank me later.