Over the last few weeks, as the semester draws to a close, I've found myself a little more stressed out than usual, or maybe even just feeling bad about myself. I tend to blame it on school, and the constant switching of gears required to get things done, but I think there is another reason for my feeling this way too: I have a lot of mental pollution. There are a lot of things in my head these days that just do not need to be there. Sometimes I get distracted with politics and social issues and all this other random stuff that I just totally lose my hold on reality. I think that's happened to me over the last few weeks.
Now that I recognize the problem and it's causes, I've dedicated myself to fixing it. For me, this means not watching as much TV or reading as much news. While I do care about the state of humanity, so to speak, there's not a whole lot I can do about most of the things I read or hear about, and honestly, it's all negative anyway. I've noticed overall that most of the things we consume on our phones are negative, or just meaningless. It's easy to get into the habit of just mindlessly scrolling through stuff we just don't care about. I consider myself to have more discipline than most, and even I get sucked into it, so I can only imagine how much more people that are not so conscious of these things must struggle with mental pollution.
Technology is a great, it really is. And I know I've written about this plenty of times before on my blog, but when we stop using technology as a tool and start using it as a means of consumption, we lose our purpose and become numb to our surroundings. There's just too much information out there to comprehend. It overwhelms us. Or, it's overwhelmed me lately. I have so many productive things I could be doing instead of mindlessly scrolling my news feed or staring at the TV. I really want to be intentional with my time. I think time is perhaps the most valuable asset we have. I don't care about money, or material goods. But my time... that better be well spent.
When I get overwhelmed, as I often do at this point in the semester, I find that I try to make life easier by just cruising through it in auto pilot. When I get home from a long day, I just mentally check out. And that is a problem. That's what leads to the mindless consumption of information. Most of it I just don't care about. Some of it I don't even remember. And some of it I find myself thinking about the next day, even though I don't care. That's what I call mental pollution. It's the stuff that just isn't meaningful to my day-to-day life.
Now I'm not saying that I just want to stick my head in the sand and not know anything that's going in if it's not immediately relevant to me. Make no mistake, I absolutely value education, and I want to be informed. But I also want to be able to think clearly not only so that I can feel better about myself, but also so I can lead a life of purpose and meaning. I have so much that I want to ponder and to do, but I haven't yet because I'm too busy wasting my time on things that are meaningless. I seem to always be waiting for the right opportunity, while remaining blind to the opportunities in front of me.
To assist me in my goal of not being so distracted and having so much mental pollution, almost all of which comes from my access to the internet, I've taken the time to reconsider my software choices. I need a full-fledged browser for school, but when I'm not working on school work, I should not have access to Chrome or Firefox, or any other full browser. I'll limit myself to w3m, a text-based browser, and NetSurf if absolutely necessary. By making it harder to consume information, I'll be less likely to do so, and only get the information I actually care about.
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