These tips to simplify your computer are for anyone who feels that computers are fine in moderation (or need them for work) but don’t want their lives run by them. It’s far better to be outside or be in the moment, isn’t it? Whether you run a vegan blog or business or simply spend a bit too much time ‘campaigning’ online rather than doing something practical in the world, here are some resources you may find helpful.
The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World is a wonderful book by writer Christina Crook, who decided to go without the Internet for 31 days, after hearing of a Vicar blessing a Blackberry (the phone, not the fruit). Deciding the world had finally gone mad, she wanted to know what she could learn from missing out on the Internet and social media for a month.
Although now back online (she sends her JOMO (joy of missing out) newsletter, which sends playful prompts to remind you to get outside to the real world), she did realise that we have to make our own decisions, on how to be discerning in our use of the online world.
Tips for a Digital Detox
- Download Adblock Plus to remove online ads.
- This Chrome extension removes sidebar videos.
- Switch to a quick modern browser (like Brave which never sells your details or tracks you, to try to make you buy stuff).
- Check online news once daily only maximum.
- Don’t reply to spam email.
- Empty your recycle bin, and use Disk Clean.
- Donate unwanted computers to charities. Businesses can recycle at Weee Charity.
- Install f.lux software. This is based on GSP location, turns your screen from blue to more akin to daylight (better for your eyes).
The Most Ethical Broadband Companies
Ecoisa plants trees for each time you search.
England’s most ethical broadband companies are ideal, if you work online. You either use a router (for better reception and no so affected by weather or busy beings elsewhere) or Wi-Fi (better for mobile work and less contracts). You can use a Router with Internet TV if you like to watch subscription channels like BritBox or Acorn TV (you could give up your TV license if that’s what you watch). If you use WiFi, you can’t use Internet TV (bar using a scart lead).
If it’s time to switch your broadband, which one do you choose? It’s entirely up to you, but here are few of the greener and more ethical options:
- Green ISP & Green Net are two main green broadband providers. They both offer broadband for personal and business use, with green energy and carbon offsets.
- The Phone Coop is the UK’s only co-operative telecoms supply. It can sign you up from £22 a month, and guarantees not to whack the price up, when you leave the contract.
- BT is the best choice for WiFi, with good customer service, if you don’t have a router or travel for work.
Vegan Web Hosting is a unique company that you may wish to switch to, if you surf the Internet or run a website or blog. This honest and ethical company also offers stellar support, along with no suspended hosting (does not turn off sites if they become popular) nor crowded servers (keeping the server ratio as possible, to keep sites fast and reliable). With a goal to help you grow and succeed your blog or business, the services includes free basic SEOand website help/transfer, searching for broken links and sending you links to add sitemaps, along with free web templates and DNS hosting. Wordpress and PHP hosting plans include 2 email accounts (up to 200MB each) and domain registrations include domain forwarding. VPS is offered, if wished to keep your site secure.
The idea is offer you an option to keep your money vegan, when you host a website. As a thank you, the company also offers exclusive promos. It’s not always possible to spend 100% on vegan companies, but for when you switch hosts, this is one option you may wish to consider.
Help a Cause, As You Search the Web
You can download one of these alternative search engines (most work with Chrome) and sponsors pay your chosen cause, for every search. So it’s a great way to raise money for your favourite charities:
- Everyclick raises money for your local small charity or school. Just sign it up, and you’re away. If a whole community does this, you could raise thousands of pounds in a very short while for your local animal shelter, homeless hostel, medical equipment for the hospital.
- Lilo gives to good causes including protecting turtles, the Amazon rainforest and helping disadvantaged children in your local area.
- Give Water & Elliot for Water help bring clean water to those in need.
- Ekoru helps to clean up our oceans
Zero Waste Alternative to Computer Cables
Recable is a USB cable that can be recycled at end of use. Made from sustainable materials, you can also repair it and 90% of the parts. Fairly made and vegan, made with conflict-free materials. Lovingly handmade in Germany without overproduction, you can fast-charge it with your smartphone. And for each one sold, they donate a day’s worth of food to wild birds. Held together without plastic by a material-saving band of grass paper, where you can find all the information. The band is printed with eco inks, climate neutral with green electricity and shipped in a cardboard box.
Reclaim Your Children from the Screen
Read The Board Game Family.is a book to help reclaim your children from the screen. Ellie Dix offers a roadmap to integrating board gaming into family life, and presents inspiring ways to engage the trickiest of teenagers, to manage game nights with flair. Keep small board game parts away from pets and children. Read The Board Game Family, which includes instructions on over 100 board games, and the benefits of playing them.
Many parents feel as if they are competing with screens, for their children’s attention. As the children get older, they become more distant, leading parents to worry about the quality time shared. This book helps to find tech-free time and reconnect.
If you have children, read Reset Your Child’s Brain, a no-cost 4-week program by a child psychiatrist to treat Electronic Screen Syndrome. This book gradually gets children away from over-ruse of computers, video games, smartphones and tablets, which can overstimulate a child’s nervous system.
Teacher and educationalist Ellie aims to help fellow parents by inviting them and their families to the unplugged world of board games. This can help develop interpersonal skills, boost confidence, improve memory formation and cognitive ability, and refine problem-solving and decision-making skills.
The book offers a wealth of tips to unleash the potential of those dusty game boxes at the back of the cupboard. And become teachers of outstanding gamesmanship, to navigate the unfolding drama of competition and be a more cohesive family unit. Includes tips on applying game-playing principles to daily life and an appendix of over 100 game descriptions, including a brief overview and key info on game length, player count and mechanics.
This Handcrafted Snakes & Ladders Game is handcrafted from maple wood. CE tested and approved. Instead of plastic, even the counters and dice are made from biodegradable wood, all handcrafted in the beautiful New Forest. The game is also personalised with the family’s name, and sits on a cork base (no trees are chopped down to make cork). Includes full instructions, and cute illustrations in a beautiful colour palette. Not for children under 6 due to small parts. Remove all packaging and assemble correctly.
This charming Peter Rabbit Dominoes Set is made from wood, and makes a lovely gift. It even includes a personalised name on the wooden box. This toy is not just fun, but helps children learn to recognise colours and learn to count. Dominoes is an ancient game that is still very popular, especially in Caribbean communities. A domino is a tile with a line in the middle, with black spots on each side. The number of spots is different on each side, and some are blank. The most popular game is to empty one’s hand, while blocking your opponent. Keep small parts away from pets and children.
Is it time to take a social media fast? Social media runs everything these days. It can be helpful (but you can use local sites to find lost pets and post jobs). Other than that, is social media really of much help? Let’s find out. And if you decide to keep it, then learn how to use it discerningly. And get back your life – and your freedom!
Do You Need Social Media?
No, of course you don’t. You existed before it did. People used to get angry about social media. Now it’s more just boredom. How many more selfies of celebrities can people take? ‘Welcome to my channel!’ It’s boring, boring, boring. The main reason to get off social media is because it’s boring!
Having said that, millions of people use it. So if you like social media, just be discerning. You may think you’re in control, but Facebook is tracking you every step of the way, so they can find out what you like, so they can try to sell more of it to you. Ethica has a good post on deleting Facebook and tracking, and ethical alternatives.
Say No to Social Media is for anyone who is falling prey to the mindless scroll or is familiar with FOMO (fear of missing out). Is the pressure of likes, follows and notifications getting you down? Although social media is a big part of modern life, using it can often leave us feeling drained, unfocused and unhappy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this book, you have all you need to get back in the driving seat. With 100 practical tips to help you switch off, you’ll find it easy to take the first steps, towards a happier online life.
A Sustainable Alternative to Facebook
Mighty Networks is an exciting new alternative to Facebook. Many people are increasingly concerned at the ‘big brother’ mentality of Facebook, and yet many small businesses and people online have nowhere else to share their content with so many people. Founded in 2017, this is growing fast, and is basically a massive network where millions of independent like-minded (and very different-minded thinkers) can work together to make the planet better.
Once you are up and running, it’s free and then you upgrade to premium only if you want. You can just chat with likeminded people, share your information, have online courses and paid memberships, list events and brand your community, all under one roof. The idea is to serve ‘creators with a purpose’ rather than just people taking selfies of themselves all day, to create a new ‘Passion Economy’. Oh, and everything’s ad-free.
One fan who has signed up is the founder of Pebble Mag, England’s most successful online magazine for sustainability issues and news (Georgina wrote the wonderful book Is It Really Green? to cut through greenwashing misinformation). She and her company (which has tens of thousands of followers) were fed up of both Facebook and Instagram, so have jumped ship and now are on this platform, where they have launched their own platform for individuals where you can:
- Learn more on sustainable topics
- Make changes with monthly action lists
- Sign petitions and form action groups
- Join book, film and podcast clubs
- Share your expertise with the community.
Swell is Pebble’s new club for green business owners, and like your own little ‘eco-friendly Facebook’ where you can all work and learn together, network and make friends, and still conduct your business needs. It costs around £20 a month (try for free first) where you can:
- Network and share problems and find advice
- Make friends with like-minded peeps
- Get insider access to their team expertise
- Find suppliers
- Advertise for jobs
- Find work opportunities
- Host exclusive events
- Host your own Power Hours & workshops
A Quick Guide to Social Media
- Pinterest. Let’s start here, as it’s actually very different. It’s not technically social media, it’s a search engine. So if you run a blog with lots of pictures (like this one), it’s quite good to set up a free account. It’s no hassle to just ‘pin your pictures’ and when people look for things, you can get up to half your traffic from it. So think of it as a free add-on to google. But unless you are promoting ‘feelgood’ things, it’s likely not your market.
- Twitter was founded by two friends, and started off as quite a good idea. Short punchy tweets to let people know of important things happening. But now it’s full of people telling others what they had for lunch, and also there is quite a lot of abuse. Maybe good to report from war zones, but for everyone else, just bin it. You can’t sign up without your phone number. They said numbers were safe, then they accidentally got sold to sell ads.
- Facebook is pretty scary, and many of us won’t touch it, due to privacy concerns. Whatever you do on Facebook, someone is watching you, to see what they can sell you. And there are all kinds of horrors (suicides, murders, stalkers, hate speech) which they say they can’t do anything about.
- LinkedIn is pretty boring, a good reason for leaving. This is like those boring ‘networking lunches’, when it’s who you know, not what you know. Follow your own path, don’t sell your soul to have followers. If you offer a good service, just pick up the phone and network that way. Who needs it?
- Instagram can be used for good, with pretty pictures and some accounts can be fun. But of course, it’s now been hijacked by lots of ‘influencers’ who take endless selfies of themselves, assuming people don’t have anything better to do, than look at them. It’s also owned by Facebook, a good reason for leaving.
People often ask about ‘what’s the alternative?’ as if you can’t go through life without having any social media. Well, there is meeting people in person. A telephone (landline if you have one – just sit on the sofa and chat to a friend you know). You could start a little blog or website and communicate that way. Have podcasts. Think outside the box.
If you want concrete alternatives: Next Door is a good site. It’s free to set up. You just set a boundary (say your village), then people can join or not. You can advertise lost pets, when there’s a party, ask people not to let off fireworks, post jobs or volunteer opportunities, tell people of a lovely view, and whatever else you like.
- Vero is a social platform that aims to be like Facebook, but without ads. Named after the Italian word for truth, this is subscription-based so it pays that way instead of tracking your every move to sell you stuff. It also has no algorithms so doesn’t ‘read you’ and no data-mining (you control who sees what).
- MeWe is a social network built on trust, with no ads, no spyware and your private life is not for sale. You own your content and control interactions and design your level of privacy. The company does not share or sell your info to advertisers or markets, and there are no ads, no targeting and no newsfeed manipulations.
Reasons to Give Up Social Media
Former Silicon Valley tech guy Jaron Lanier even wrote a book about this. He has an interesting history. Born to parents who both escaped murderous regimes from the Nazis and Ukraine, his mother was killed in a car accident, and his father injured when he was a child. He became one of the first ‘virtual reality’ experts, before giving it all up to live a ‘real reality’ (he owns over 1000 musical instruments). He says to Delete your accounts. It can be done, you know. And nearly everyone who does, feels much better. Read Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts. His reasons include:
- Losing your free will
- Undermining Truth
- Makes what you say meaningless
- Destroys capacity for empathy
- Makes politics impossible
- Make you unhappy
- Hates your soul
In his book, he talks of how he loves cats and dogs, but they are very different. We all know that a lovely dog will stick by you thick and thin, unfortunately even if you mistreated him. But a cat will say ‘sod off’ and go and live somewhere else. He thinks with social media, we should all be cats. Not just be enslavened to ‘big brother’ who tell us what to think, what information we can use, and who we can talk to. So say ‘au revoir’ to social media and hello to a new life of freedom.
The Guardian has a good article where a woman considering giving up social media, interviews those who already have. Here are some highlights (read the full article).
- One woman got enough time to work that she is now taking master’s programs. She doesn’t shop online and just keeps her phone for calls.
- Better sleep
- No hassle looking for your phone
- One woman gave up her 11,000 followers on Twitter and felt relieved like walking away from a bad relationship. Another gave up after scrolling, after she found herself feeling anger at women with living children, after her only child died in labour.
- One swapped it for sleep meditation videos and now reads 2 to 3 books a week, instead of 2 or 3 a year. And now studies Celtic mythology and herbal medicines.
Using social media can make you feel ugly, that you are too fat or thin, the wrong colour or intellect, that you must eat certain foods. It makes you angry, jealous, depressed, anxious, you spend more money and it interferes with your ability to think clearly. People have literally been killed as they were concentrating on taking selfies, and fell off cliffs etc. Another attempted suicide as he was upset at the selfies taken, another had to go to hospital from repetitive strain injury from typing on What’s App.
I didn’t know what Facebook was. And now that I do know what it is, I have to say – it sounds like a huge waste of time. Betty White
Thanks to social media, people can take pointless pictures and pollute the world with their dumb shit faster than ever before. Everyone thinks they’re entitled to their 15 minutes of fame. And it’s that narcissism that makes people (who have no business writing a book) think they can write a book. Oliver Markus Malloy
It’s impossible to improve health using Facebook. Because every time you get good medical advice out there, it’ll eventually be overwhelmed by bad medical advice which will be more engaging. Jaron Lanier
The main problem with Twitter is how every user who posts considers themselves a public figure, often without a hint of irony. Nobody cares what you think. The Tab
There is a top US author who writes ‘spiritual self-help’ books. After giving you (quite good) advice on how the Universe works and how to find inner peace, it all goes pear-shaped. At the end of each audio chapter, she shrills ‘Click to tweet!’ The bubble of authenticity bursts immediately.
Celebrities That Don’t Use Social Media
Considering many addicts of social media are celebrity addicts, here is an inspiring list of celebrities who have nothing whatsoever to do with social media:
- It’s interesting that people who think they are interesting tend to use social media. But genuinely funny and talented comedians like Tina Fey (‘I can see Russia from my house!) don’t use it. She writes ‘why would I give away my jokes for free?’
- Actress Keira Knightly tried to use Twitter for 12 hours ‘to be down with the kids’, but it ‘creeped her out’ so much, she immediately left.
- Sandra Bullock (the woman that most men secretly are in love with and women want to be like) does not use it, simply because she has better things to do.
- Kate Winslet won’t have social media in the house, as she believes it will ruin her children’s self-esteem. Remember she was the one that went for a magazine who photo-shopped her legs as ‘a third of their natural size’, saying it sent out the wrong message.
- George Clooney (and his lawyer wife) don’t do social media. He says he is prone to saying stupid things, and he doesn’t want to do it on social media!
- Mila Kunis (actress and husband of Ashton Kutcher) says nobody wants to know that she is ‘now moving from room to room’ or going to the bathroom.
- Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter) likes to have a private life. And believes his requests would not be taken seriously, if he was tweeting all the time.
- Eddie Murphy says no-one wants to know that he is ‘eating the strawberries now’.
- Cate Blanchett does not believe in social media, as it gives other people who may be down, the impression ‘there is a better life over there’, which sets people up, to crash them down.
- Actor Ralph Fiennes won’t use it as he is ‘sick of the world of truncated sentences, soundbites and Twitter’.
- Cameron Diaz says it’s dangerous to ‘get your validation from a bunch of strangers’.
- Finally, James Bond actor Daniel Craig won’t use social media, saying he’s tired of people posting useless life updates. ‘Just call each other up and go to the pub and have a drink’.
Sacha’s Speech on Facebook
You may know Sacha Cohen Baron as his comedy alter-ego Ali G. He became quite well-known in the US, when (before he was President), Donald Trump did indeed smell a rat, when Ali tried to get him to invest in his ‘ice-cream gloves’ that let you eat ice-cream, ‘without your hands going sticky’.
In real life, he’s a highly educated Jewish Cambridge history scholar, who a year or so ago, gave this talk. Since then (and what’s happened with Facebook and Australians), he had quite the vision. In summary, he says that because Facebook will take advertising from almost anyone in ‘free speech’, they would have taken money off Hitler for his ‘final solution’ if the price had been right.
Walk away from all the ads. Your life will improve and the world will too. Today ads rule the world: they are the only ones that can afford to advertise in big media (even a small in the Guardian starts at £47K). So everything we hear from ads in the media, is not from small indie companies and non-profits. Newspapers can’t survive without ads these days, due to falling reader numbers. Politicians are often funded by companies that pay for ads, causing policies to be dictated by lobbyists, rather than MPs. This leads to false information on everything from what really causes mass illness and climate change.
Ads also cause a culture of consumerism. You can only be ‘happy’ if you buy a certain car or pair of trainers, or if you look a certain way. The most empowering way to create change, is simply to walk away from it all. Try it. Give up all ads, just for a few days. You’ll find the world is a much nicer place: :
- Either give up newspapers flooded with ads or switch to alternative newspapers that rely on subscriptions and donations, rather than ads.
- Watch less, but better TV. Subscription channels like Britbox cost £6 a month and you get all the main series from the last couple of decades, all without ads: Morse, Inspector Frost, Only Fools & Horses, The Office, Father Ted, all the classic period dramas – and not an ad in sight. You could give up your TV license, buy a scart lead and link to your laptop, to ‘watch TV’ from the sofa (just turn it round, to avoid double screen, or you’ll feel you’ll in a TV shop).
- If you watch ‘normal TV’, hit the mute button when ads come on (same with the radio). Avoid ‘charity shock tactics’ from big charity, and donate to small effective charities and humane research charities that find cures quicker, without animal research (and spend money on cures, instead of ads).
- Read how to stop (nearly) all junk mail.
- Install Adblock Plus. This is free and takes 2 seconds, to wipe all ads from your computer including social media. Ads are not the best way to earn income, because millions now use adblocker. Earn money by offering a service or zero waste product, or using affiliate links within helpful text.
- If your online paper won’t let you read sites without adblockers, go elsewhere. The Guardian lets you read for free (it’s owned by a charity with an ethos that everyone should have access to news, no matter what their income). Although it does have ads, it does not charge for those who read for free.
What People Say About Ads
Environmental writer George Monbiot has a whole category about ads on his blog. He calls advertising ‘sucking out our brain, through our eyes’. when you watch TV, your brain goes into ‘alpha state’. It’s been found that some people are asked why they have certain foods in their supermarket trolleys: it seems many have no idea (they watched an ad the night before, and their subconscious mind had thrown it in the basket!)
A few Christmases ago, I was given a kettle, which now leaks. I could mend it, if only I could tighten the base. But one of the screws has a star-shaped slot with a spike in the middle, which is designed to prevent repairs, as no available tool will fit it. My kettle was for Christmas, not just for life. So I will throw it away, and help to build an earthly paradise by buying a new one. George Monbiot
Minimalism blogger Leo Babauta has at least 2 million readers and earns money from courses, and does not run ads or even SEO. He writes well, and readers visit. He even lets his work be published copyright-free and says he has not seen any dip in his traffic or income. He is passionate against ads:
I say we revolt by simply opting out. By not watching ads. Not buying on impulse. Not using shopping as therapy. Not using buying as a solution to everything. Not going to websites that have intrusive popup ads. Not listening to ad-supported radio. Not wearing logos on our clothing. Not going to theme parks that are just big ads for their products. Not shopping when we’re on vacation. Not watching TV shows supported by ads. Leo Babauta
Remove Social Media Ads Too
Ali G was a spoof rapper invented by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. In reality he is a Jewish Cambridge history graduate, who made a fantastic speech about the dangers of Facebook ads. Take off the ads, using the plugin above. Or even better, take a social media fast.
If you pay them, Facebook will run any ‘political’ ad, even if it’s a lie. Even help you micro-target those lies to their users. Under this twisted logic, if Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his ‘solution’. So here’s a good standard and practice: Facebook – start fact-checking political ads before you run them, stop micro-targeted lies immediately. And when the ads are false; give back the money and don’t publish them. Sacha Baron Cohen
Everywhere an image, a phrase, a demand or a recommendation is screaming for my attention, trying to sell me something, tell me who to be, what to desire and to need. And this is before the internet; before apples and blackberries became indispensable to people who wouldn’t know where to pick the real thing. Paul Kingsnorth