Can’t stop scrolling? Here’s how to frame a nutritious digital meal plan

New apps can help you balance the news you need with the good news you don’t get enough of, and a sprinkling of humour and bite-sized entertainment. You can do it yourself too.
Updated on Oct 18, 2020 10:48 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Madhusree Ghosh

The doomsurfing doesn’t stop. With little else to do, we’re spending all our free time scrolling into infinity, snacking on bitter bits of bad news, interspersed with the odd sweet treat of a dog / cat / polar bear video.

One way to at least improve the content you feed your mind, is to go on a digital diet. The aim is to reorganise what you consume online with the help of a nutritious digital meal plan that aims to balance the news you need (usually tragic and disturbing) with the good news you don’t get enough of, and add a sprinkling of humour and bite-sized entertainment.

“You can think of it as a slow and steady detoxification plan — a way to replace your random digital diet with a routine that is healthier and more sustainable for your mind,” says psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist Dr Alpes Panchal .

How do you do this? First, download apps like Goodnight Chrome, Forest and Flipd that alert you when you’ve crossed a certain preset threshold of time on an app. Say, 20 minutes on Twitter; 30 on Facebook. Some phones let you do this too. When the alarm goes off, at least switch between apps (if you don’t have the energy to switch to a book or a run or engage in a constructive activity).

Next, curate for yourself the kind of mix you’d like to see within each app. “People generally follow three types of accounts – family and friends, topics of interest, and aspirational subjects. So when you’re on a social media platform like Instagram, you can make the algorithm work for you, by liking and engaging with the right mix of subjects in posts,” says life coach Chetna Chakravarthy. “We’ve forgotten that social media is supposed to be interactive, and in forgetting that, we’re losing out on opportunities to connect, at a time when we really need those opportunities.”

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There are also platforms that will do this curating for you — the biggest such one is Moodrise 1000, released by the British company AeBeZe Labs last year. It offers curated content from platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Vimeo, that you can browse and filter by feeling — calm, connection, energy, focus, happiness, motivation. Pick one and you get a curated list of films, shows and videos to match the mood or emotion.

“The technology is here to stay. We have to find way to make it work for us, rather than the other way around,” says Panchal.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021