If you didn’t already know, most of the Western internet sources are banned in China. Given the government’s political status which is communist by nature, it doesn’t allow its people to access Google, Facebook, Instagram and the likes. In order to access these sites, we foreigners need to use a VPN – virtual private network – which is illegal and usually very slow. Instead, I’ve decided to ‘live like a local’ and to limit access to these channels by just using what is permitted instead. The social media tool used in China is WeChat, which is like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and your bank card or iPhone wallet all in one. The search engine permitted is Yahoo or Bing. The more I stuck to these instead of my norm, the more I realized something interesting. After over two months in Shanghai, my brain developed at a staggering rate and I noticed the following changes in my rituals, habits and overall satisfaction levels :
1. Phone usage dropped from 8 hours to 1 hour per day
If you didn’t know this already, iPhone now stores information about your daily phone usage and habits. I used to have an average of 8-9 hours a day on my phone with pick-ups over 100. Now my phone usage dropped to 1-1.2 hours per day, with pickups under 40. Out of that, only 15 minutes is used on social media.
2. I taught myself Chinese
Forcefully using WeChat and various Chinese communication tools like Weibo, has made my eyes open to Chinese characters which I can now understand, read and write at basic level.
3. Read over 10 books in two months
My new Instagram replacement has become Kindle. I’ve started to absorb novels, non fiction and all types of books at a staggering rate. Never knew I could even read this quickly.
4. Spent more time with nature
I walk at least an hour a day, twice a day. I take out my sister in laws dog whom I love and go jogging once a day in the morning.
5. And my family
Instead of wasting time scrolling endlessly, I spend more quality time with the ones I love.
6. Less anxiety, less stress and less overall worry
About the outside world. I have a Google email address for my business as well, so the fact that I don’t get bombarded bye mails hourly, gives me less stress to constantly answer at all hours of the day, and therefor I am less prone for feeling anxious from others deadlines. Also noticed spending over 30 minutes on social medias actually gives me anxiety, or this worrisome feeling in my lower back. Now that I’m less on, I can’t handle being glued to my phone for too long.
7. More present
I live IN the moment, constantly. There’s no negativity being projected on to me from others. It’s amazing.
8. I care so much less
About what people think, what they wear, what they’re doing LOL. I would rather gain knowledge, absorb a book, meet new people.
9. I choose phone conversations over texting
Now if I DO use my phone, it’s more meaningful. I don’t waste hours back and forth by text. I pick up the phone and call people if I need something or if I want to catch up. It’s refreshing.
10. I am more resourceful
when my phone dies. Ha! Kidding. No seriously. It used to be the END of the world. My phone is my maps, bank, entertainment, etc. Now that I don’t associate it so much as such, I have better survival skills. For example, I learn my surroundings so that if it does die, I can get myself home. I learn to use other forms of life as entertainment except for my device. It’s like a whole other perspective on life.