Kin Lane

Working On My Digital Self In Three Phases

I have been working on my digital self over the last couple of years, but it is something I am formalizing and ritualizing in new ways over the last six months. I noticed that my online life was impacting me emotionally and physically, and I needed to do something about it. I cannot step away from technology, as it is how I make my living, but I can work to stabilize my relationship with it.

To help me make more progress I am breaking my efforts into three distinct phases:

  • Healing - Cleaning up the mess I have created.
  • Strengthening - Establishing the presence I want.
  • Anchoring - Connect myself to things in the real world.

I’l be investing in all three of these areas simultaneously, but early on I have a lot of healing of my digital self to do before I can move forward with some of the other phases. I also ultimately want to get where minimal amounts of healing are required, and I can focus more on strengthening and anchoring myself. It will take time.

Healing

I have made significant headway in some of these areas at different times over the last three years. I’ve known I need to work on myself for some time now, and have invested in sporadic ways, but as I said, I’m looking to formalize my approach to pick up the pace in which I’m healing my digital presence in these areas:

  • Browser - I ditched Google, and went all Firefox – big step.
  • Email - I am on top of my inbox. Still need to switch providers.
  • Photos - I have centralized, organized, and de-duped all photos.
  • Social - I have cleaned up my history, and minimized my engagement.
  • Messaging - I have reduce my messaging footprint, but needs more work.
  • Financial - Slowly cleaning up the debt, and cutting the cords.
  • Health - Making significant progress on mental and physical health.
  • Other - I have a number of other areas and accounts to deal with.

A lot of this area is all about cleaning up and deleting accounts to help minimize the sprawl of my digital self. I don’t need the emails, notifications, and noise from many of these accounts. The more I clean up my digital sprawl, the more I feel in control over my presence, setting the stage for a healthier version of my online self, and less to exploit by tech companies.

Strengthening

Since I have been cleaning up this mess for some time now, I’m able to begin investing time and energy into more strengthening aspects of getting a handle on my digital self. I’m not looking to walk away from many of the online channels I tune into, but I am looking to assert more control, and make sure they work for me, not the other way around–I am focusing on these areas currently:

  • Social - Maintain my presence on just the social networks that matter to me.
  • Blog - Maintain all of my blogs, with a minimal flow of storytelling.
  • Financial - Developing an awareness of, and setting the stage for more investment.
  • Messaging - Working to be more regular about messaging with key people on important channels.
  • Other - I’m still building a list of other ways in which I can strengthen myself online.

This is really the part of my online world that forces me to be more thoughtful and deliberate in how I use online tools. If i’m not actively using something, and it is not bringing me joy, I should be deleting the account and not tuning in. There is no reason I should allow for platforms to harass me into using, or guilting me that one day, some day I will use or need it.

Anchoring

The most important aspect of self care for my digital self is making sure I am anchoring my existence in meaningful, tangible, real world activities that make me happy. These are the things I want to do when I reach that moment online where I’m just blindly clicking, refreshing and looking for something to fill the hole. This is when I close the laptop, put down the mobile phone, and tune into one of these areas:

  • Books - I am reading more than I ever have in my adult life.
  • Art - I’m regularly investing in my art, helping me see things differently.
  • Crafts - I want to begin doing mosaic tile work again, getting my hands dirty.
  • Activity - I have been walking so much, and I want it to continue.
  • Other - I’ll focus here, but keep my eye out for other anchoring things.

Without these things in my life, it is much easier for the online world to begin dominating my physical world. Without something to occupy my mind offline, I’ll never turn off the web and fully occupy my mind and body. These activities anchor my digital self in ways that are critical to my health and well being on and off line.

Working On Myself

None of this is new. However, formalizing and ritualizing it helps me regularly recognize that I need to tend to my digital self. I don’t want to get to the point where I am burnt out again. Where the online world begins affecting my physical self. Being online too much affects in negative ways, but I also can’t step away from it all together. So I have to have a strategy for coping and making sure I’m not letting another online mess accumulate, that I am strengthening all aspects of my online world, while also anchoring the digital version of myself in the real world, or I will end up letting the online world dominate who I am again–risking the chance I might lose myself all together.