The phrase “conscious uncoupling” first came to most people’s attention during the divorce of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin in 2014. It described the process of how they would dissolve their marriage in a civilised way and continue to coexist positively in terms of family responsibilities despite the prospect of finding new love in their now separate lives.
But the concept of uncoupling can also be applied to many other areas of our lives. And in this article we explore why it is a good time for what we are going to describe as “digital uncoupling”.
Just have a think through a typical day, and pay attention to the number of times during a day that you use a digital device. Sometimes it’s out of necessity, for example to sort out home finances or admin. Sometimes it’s to get in touch with and interact with others, and sometimes for fun or entertainment. All of that is good.
But, being honest, do you also find yourself wasting a lot of time amongst all the positive stuff? For example, deleting a load of emails that you don’t really want, scrolling through social media feeds of people you hardly know, or getting distracted by news or shopping websites. If this rings a bell, then perhaps it’s time for a bit of digital uncoupling.
In this article we take a look at:
Yes, seriously. We have seen that you can use digital devices to manage aspects of your life and interact positively with others. But excessive use can begin to interfere with the rest of your life. Why spend more time than you need looking at life on a screen, when you could be enjoying the real thing?
It’s a sign of the times that the word “phub” is now being included in dictionaries. Its definition is “to ignore someone you are with and pay attention to your mobile phone instead”. Recent research found that couples who regularly phub each other have lower relationship satisfaction. And, sadly, around half of people surveyed said that their partners phubbed them.
The more websites, social media channels, and apps you are signed up for means that more companies, organisations and individuals have data and information about you. Would it not be better to take back control over your data, and make sure that your personal details and life events are only shared with people and organisations that you trust?
Let’s face it, most of us are subscribed to so many websites, email newsletters, apps and various other online platforms that we have totally lost track. But worryingly this means that your email address and passwords for all those products and services are out there in cyberspace. And with the increasing risk of fraud, identity theft, and cyberattacks, it’s a good idea to start reining it in.
If you are subscribed to a computer security company or credit reference agency such as Experian, you may already have received warnings that your data has been found for sale online. But the problem is that if you have signed up for more digital platforms than you can remember, it can be difficult to pin down where your data has been obtained from. So, time to get back in the driving seat again!
The more online activity you participate in, the more stressful it can be. You never feel on top of everything, and worry that you are not keeping up with all that’s going on. It’s like FOMO on steroids!
If your heart sinks every time you open your email, and see dozens of unread messages waiting to claim your attention, you need to ask yourself if you really want or need all those emails? Similarly with unwanted ads or videos on your social media feeds, or posts from people you barely know showing off about how wonderful their life is. Not to mention the constant demands to update various apps on your Smartphone.
It can all get very stressful, but much of it is stress that we don’t need to allow into our lives.
Did you know that if you reduce your digital footprint – your use of emails, social media, websites, apps etc – this will also reduce your carbon footprint?
Let’s look specifically at emails. Every email in your inbox is stored in a data centre. Data centres need a lot of power and currently consume more than 3% of the entire world’s electricity supply. This figure is expected to increase to 13% by 2030. Even worse, most of this energy is generated from fossil fuels – such as coal and natural gas – which are not renewable. Data centres are currently estimated to produce around 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the entire aviation industry!
Every email you delete will free up space in a data centre and save resources. It’s estimated that if everyone around the globe were to delete just 10 emails, it would save 1,725,000 gigabytes of storage space, equating to around 55.2 million kilowatts of energy.
So there are many good reasons for digital uncoupling. Let’s now look at how to go about it.
The prospect of completely sorting out your digital life can seem very daunting. But the key thing to do is start now and take baby steps to achieve it bit by bit.
Here are five aspects of your digital life that you may want to uncouple, and for each one we give you three very quick ways to get started in the process. Why not start doing them from today?
We hope that this article helps you to decide whether it’s time for a bit of digital uncoupling in your life, and how to start going about it.