5 Methods to Battle Again – ProActuary

Considering this set off a path of thought in my thoughts. Digital expertise is turning into more and more pervasive into our on a regular basis lives. However its additionally more and more clear that it comes at a price.

Why I Love My Digital World

Do not get me unsuitable. I am no Luddite. In reality, I like expertise. Heck, I even not too long ago organised a digital convention for actuaries, encouraging them to embrace the digital world of expertise. And I consider in that message – as enterprise professionals, we will not get left behind within the digital period of alternative.

From a private perspective, there are lots of issues I worth and love about expertise.

“Any sufficiently superior expertise is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

I like that I can entry info on something on the earth, on the flick of a finger, on a tool I can slot in my pocket.

I like that I can join with folks on the far finish of the world, virtually as if they’re in the identical room.    

As an impartial one who values freedom, flexibility, and autonomy, I additionally worth that I can feasibly perform a lot of my present work from wherever on the earth.

I worth that Netflix, Amazon, and Google will make correct predictions about issues I wish to purchase, and issues I by no means even realised I ever wished. These ubiquitous black field algorithms know who we’re, the place we’re, what we would like and why we would like it. Our each want is, very often, solely a smartphone finger swipe away.

Lastly, I am sufficiently old to nonetheless be amazed at the truth that I’ve written the draft of this text on a 6-inch machine while sitting in my again backyard with my toes up having fun with a cup of espresso.

I could not have imagined this versatile world of labor we dwell in after I was at college a few years in the past. But right here we live within the matrix of digital pixels.

You get the image. Know-how makes our lives environment friendly, enjoyable, handy and linked. It makes alternative and potentialities appear limitless. It gives immense leverage, permitting us to do issues we by no means thought doable. It provides to our lives in some ways and I for one would discover it tough to dwell with out my many beloved units and apps.

The Darker Aspect of Digital Know-how

However I even have deep issues about the place some types of digital expertise are taking us. I really feel it has a darkish aspect that’s turning into ever extra prevalent.

For instance, I am typically annoyed that “fact” appears to be more and more tough to uncover. More and more obscured by false information and emotion pushed narratives that may unfold like wildfire. It appears that evidently, in some sense, misinformation, manipulation and deceit by means of information has change into the norm and very often the epicentre of communication. 

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It issues me that my 3 kids are rising up in a world the place consideration spans are reducing, selfies and comparability rule the day, and technology-induced narcissism appears to be more and more the norm. 

It worries me that I can foresee children turning into more and more inclined to the algorithmic perversions of the tech giants. More and more drunk on Silicon Valley dopamine because the incursion of manipulative expertise, with their slot machine random rewards, strikes additional into our lives with Machiavellian precision.

The analysis appears to concur. It tells us that our kids are taking up a world of: 

  • Elevated anxiousness and despair (expertise, particularly smartphone dependancy, has been proven to extend charges of each anxiousness and despair) (see reference 1).
  • Poor sleep habits (see reference 2).
  • Warped senses of actuality (see reference 3).
  • Fixed distraction (see reference 4).

With expertise as an enabler, we more and more appear to go from one place to a different in an environment friendly style avoiding the randomness of life. Jason Hrera of Bigthink describes this as a sequence of ‘residing life in straight strains’. I can see his level. Increasingly, I really feel that, in some methods, stochastic randomness of each day life is turning into a factor of the previous as (a minimum of in in some regards) we transfer in the direction of residing ever extra deterministic lives based mostly on algorithms and prediction. 

Sustaining Steadiness and Staying in Management

So what ought to we do to negate a few of the damaging results that digital expertise can have on our lives, while nonetheless sustaining the upsides? How can we assist to make sure that digital expertise is working for us and never in opposition to us?

Right here are some things, I’ve personally discovered useful:

1. Have a digital detox day

“There are solely two industries that consult with their prospects as ‘customers’: unlawful medicine and software program.” – Edward Tufte

As soon as per week (usually a Sunday) I’ll do my greatest to not use my cellphone in any respect. It will get locked away. Out of sight, out of thoughts.

“System dependence is extremely reinforcing, so it turns into like a drug. And in reality it co-opts the identical mind techniques which might be indicated in dependancy.” – Michael Gelb

It is a day for stepping outdoors into the non-pixelated world, some consult with as the actual world. Screens are usually forbidden (aside from the occasional picture!). As an alternative, mountaineering, biking, and sunshine (or rain the place I dwell), are the day’s chosen indulgences.

2. Delete, delete, delete (or a minimum of flip off notifications)

“Nearly every part will work once more for those who unplug it for a couple of minutes, together with you.” — Anne Lamott

I recommend going by means of each smartphone app, particularly social networking websites that require giving up your consideration and asking your self, how a lot richer your life actually is with it. Sure, there are clear advantages. However there are additionally (typically hidden) prices. Actually take into consideration and contemplate if the advantages do outweigh the prices?

I used to assume I used to be being environment friendly having instantaneous entry to my emails open on my pc (or on my cellphone while away from it), capable of reply them as quickly because the messages got here by means of. It will definitely grew to become apparent (I am a gradual learner!) that every one I used to be doing was valuing different folks’s agenda above my very own. As a rule I used to be looking for a distraction from the harder (however extra significant) work I used to be meant to be engaged in.

I now not have electronic mail notifications on my cellphone and attempt to work a lot of the time offline in outlook. I now (attempt to!) strategically test my electronic mail thrice per day (okay possibly often extra). In consequence, my working days are largely targeted on what Cal Newport calls “Deep Work,” slightly than hearth preventing whac-a-moles as they make their means into my inbox.

Identical goes for social media and different notifications. Life is simply extra peaceable with them turned off and strategically managed at predetermined occasions of the day.

Like a slot machine on steroids, the random reward nature of notifications is the means by which the engineers of smartphone apps and units have exploited our psychological weaknesses. I’ve discovered that turning the faucet off on the supply is essentially the most environment friendly strategy to battle again.

Life with out the fixed cellphone beep notification is sweet. Positive, I miss the fixed micro drip of adrenaline being fed by my random reward generator. However I do not miss the wasted time and accompanying emotions of guilt.

3. Set minimal and most closing dates

“What will get measured will get managed” – Peter Drucker

Have you ever ever checked LinkedIn, Fb or YouTube for a fast 5 minute break, solely to search out you will have gone down a number of rabbit holes and wasted an hour or extra of your time?

I do know I’ve.

Or a minimum of I used to. 

These days, I set very strict limits on my social media and web looking utilization. I truly bodily set a web-based timer with a predetermined time after I have interaction in social media. Unhappy? Perhaps. However I do not actually care. If it means I end work on time, with out stress and with the sensation of getting completed what I set out to do this day, then I am going to fortunately make the commerce. Downtime after 5pm is simply extra enjoyable and rewarding.

4. Get into nature as a lot as doable

I wish to stroll, hike, mountain bike by means of forests and go to the seaside with my children. 

After I don’t have interaction in this stuff, and have time away from expertise, I in a short time discover my vitality starting to dip, my thoughts beginning to fog and my temper can veer in the direction of irritability.

Therefore I view this stuff, not as good issues to do if I’ve time, however as private requirements and priorities, permitting me to perform optimally and get well from hours spent taking a look at a display.

I not too long ago created my very own secret hideaway within the countryside the place weekends are in regards to the outside. I assist my children construct huts within the forest, climb bushes, make random stuff, gentle fires and simply potter about.

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The upside? My mind will get a well-needed break from residing life by means of a display. My nervous system resets. My soul will get grounded. And I really feel like I am giving my children a part of the privileged comparatively non-tech outdoor-based life I used to be fortunate sufficient to develop up in.

5. Shut down full.

“Every time you end up on the aspect of the bulk, it’s time to pause and replicate.” Mark Twain

A working actuarial joke is that an actuary is a pc with a coronary heart.

There’s in all probability some fact to it.

My very own present “pc trait” is that of getting a psychological “shut down full” swap on the finish of the day (thought borrowed from Cal Newport).

I’ve heard it known as a digital sundown. I like that phrase. 5pm. Pc shut down. Good cellphone off. Work over. Psychological shut down. Household time.


“Know-how… is a queer factor. It brings you nice items with one hand, and it stabs you within the again with the opposite.” C.P. Snow

I believe digital expertise is a basic instance of there being no such factor as a free lunch.

It is superb, it truly is. There are such a lot of helpful features to digital expertise. So many alternatives and methods by which our lives are enhanced. General, I can see how my life is best with digital expertise.

However there’ll all the time be trade-offs in life.

“Technological progress has merely supplied us with extra environment friendly means for going backwards.” – Aldous Huxley

In some ways, I really feel like we live in a grandiose experiment the place no-one is aware of precisely the place the trail will lead us.

Nevertheless, I consider we will nonetheless optimise our method and the above actions have helped me.

With all that stated, I am nonetheless to determine these things out. And the tech guys in Silicon Valley are sometimes staying one step forward of me. In the event you any additional ideas on conserving digital expertise below management, working for us and never in opposition to us, please do let me know! 


  1. Demirci, Okay., Akgönül, M., & Akpinar, A. (2015). Relationship of smartphone use severity with sleep high quality, despair, and anxiousness in college college students. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4(2), 85–92. doi:10.1556/2006.4.2015.010

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