Do you ever wind up at a website and then, looking left and right in confusion, ask yourself, “What am I doing here?” Yes, your brain has crashed. Thank you, electronic media.
On and on it goes: Whatsapp ding-ding-ding! I messaged you on LinkedIn, did you see it? You have 6 new messages, 12 new likes, 8 new emails, 3 shares, 12 hearts — and that was since you last checked 2 minutes ago!
Please! I don’t need a vacation. I just want to be able to step off the non-stop electronic treadmill for just a few hours a day! Look, it’s not rocket science that as a civilization, our electronic media consumption is rising dangerously:
But rest assured, by the end of this blog post, EVERYTHING will be resolved and better (isn’t that why you’re reading this?).
Don’t have time to read the entire article, here’s the quick fix: when you come home, turn off your phone, put it on the top shelf of your closet, and close the closet. Proceed to sleep soundly. You’re welcome. (I seriously started doing this a while back, and it’s awesome!)
It’s up to you to decide whether this huge amount of time spent online is benefiting you or not. I’m not here to preach; I’m suffering as much mental fragmentation as anyone. It’s not that there’s “no benefit” whatsoever, I mean this article itself uses electronic media. Undoubtedly, there is benefit.
But it’s when we start with good intentions, doing something productive, that we get sucked into the bottomless pit of electronic mindlessness.
If you’re with me and you want to increase your weight over the digital media see-saw, here are some Islamic reflections on the issue:
Enjoying yourself is cool – but in moderation
In this following verse, Allah gives us a green light to wear nice clothes, go ahead and have a nice meal, make yourself a nice drink — but don’t go overboard. Enjoy, but refrain from excess:
“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: Eat and drink: But do not be excessive and waste, for Allah loves not those who waste” [Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 31].
Establish your salah: on-time and preferably in the Masjid
Imagine someone in the midst of a TV marathon, or an online gaming tournament, or following a social media fight with popcorn by their side — imagine that person preparing 15 minutes before the adhan to go to the Masjid.
Imagine that person making Wudu with cool water. Imagine that person breathing fresh air, pressing their head to soft Masjid carpet, finishing their salah with concentration top to bottom. Imagine yourself (yes, you) saying salam to a friend or two after Salah; talking, smiling, chatting.
One doesn’t go back to their media, in the same way, as when they take these spiritual and social salah breaks. (And for families at home, why not establish a family congregational prayer if you can’t make it to the Masjid?)
Indeed Salah will protect you from that which is shameful and out of balance. How do I know? Because Allah promised so:
“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do” [Qur’an: Chapter 29, Verse 45].
While establishing salah gives you regular breaks from over-consuming media, what can you do when you’re done with your salah to continue maintaining balance?
3 snap-hacks to enjoy media in moderation
- Put your smartphone in a different room (or same-room closet) for a set period. It’s much too hard to pull it out and get sucked in when it’s stored away.
- Use a countdown timer to focus. Commit yourself to work solidly for 25 minutes, and then give yourself an email or social media break for a few minutes.
- Before you start media, use a notepad to jot down what you are doing online and what you need to do. The notepad will keep you mentally anchored so that when your fingers start floating in a zombie-like click-click progression, you can use your notepad as a time machine telling you what your brain was thinking 45 minutes ago.
Now it’s your turn. What techniques do you actively use to save yourself from electronic media distractions?