Tips and ideas to ease digital fatigue in 2021 / Humans + Tech - #61

+ Menstruation apps store excessive information + Dozens of Al Jazeera journalists allegedly hacked + AI and Satellite Data Could Help End Slavery on the high seas + Neural’s AI predictions for 2021


I wish you a Happy and Healthy 2021 :)

I think that collectively as a human race, we are all glad to have 2020 behind us. Let’s hope the vaccines are effective, can be distributed worldwide as quickly as possible, and help us get back to normal before the end of 2021.

One of the side-effects of the pandemic has been our increased use of technology. As social distancing and lockdowns have forced most of our activities online, we’ve all experienced increased digital fatigue.

This issue will be slightly different from normal. I wanted to share a list of things we can all do to reduce our digital fatigue - hopefully it will contribute to your new year resolutions. The irony that I have to send this to you electronically hasn’t escaped my attention :)

18 Ideas and tips to ease digital fatigue

  1. Take a walk in nature. If possible, go to a forest, nature trail, or park near you where you can fully immerse yourself in nature. Do this once a week and don’t take any devices with you - it’s ok if your steps are not recorded. Nature is a healer, and you’ll feel much better after a walk.

  2. Exercise 3-4 times a week. Stretch, practice yoga, run, walk, lift weights, dance, do whatever you enjoy. Even better, do it with your family or friends (with the appropriate social distancing measures) — it’s much more motivating to exercise together.

  3. Read a physical book. Even if it’s just a few pages a day. An actual physical book is easier on the eyes.

  4. Write, paint, or draw. Write a journal or even on a sheet of paper. Use plain paper or a canvas to paint and draw. You don’t have to create a masterpiece. Even if you end up only scribbling or doodling, it’s very therapeutic.

  5. Reduce social media use and screen time. Even 15 minutes less a day will help. Instead, look out of the window, focus your eyes on objects at different distances, and observe the world around you.

  6. Play board games. They are great fun. Plus they help you learn to strategise, improve your motor skills, reduce stress, improve your mental and cognitive skills, have fun, and feel good.

  7. Tell children stories. If you don’t have your own children, get your nephews and nieces, or the children of your friends or neighbours, and tell them a story. Make one up if you don’t know any. Children have a way of asking questions that you never considered, and it will help broaden your perspectives and improve your thought process.

  8. Play with children. Children learn by playing. Observe how they learn by playing. It’s very intriguing. Please resist the urge to teach them immediately and try to let them figure things out independently.

  9. Solve puzzles. Choose any type - mathematical puzzles, word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, whichever type you enjoy. Solving puzzles helps us improve our memory, use both sides of our brains, improve problem-solving skills, and lower stress levels.

  10. Meditate often. I’ll admit, I’m not a great meditator myself. My mind is too active. But what has helped me is to try and meditate for only two minutes at a time. I close my eyes and try to identify as many different sounds I can, around me. It’s amazing how many different sounds you can actually hear and identify when you focus on it. Two minutes is manageable. If you can do more, even better.

  11. Craft something. Make something - it could be carpentry, embroidery, quilting, knitting, origami, or even lego. It could be something as simple as making a paper aeroplane. It’s a great feeling to craft something out of other things. It boosts mental health and improves your mood.

  12. Go for a drive. If you have a car, go for a drive, preferably in the countryside or a place that is not very busy. Open the windows, let the breeze in, listen to your favourite music, and sing along :)

  13. Play with pets. If you don’t have your own, play with a friend’s pet or a neighbour’s pet. Playing with pets helps reduce stress levels, reduce anxiety, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and help you stay in shape.

  14. Grow some plants. You don’t need a garden. If you don’t have one, grow a few small plants in pots at home. Plants help to improve mental health, improve air quality, and add humidity in the atmosphere. If you have a garden, try to grow some fruits, flowers, or vegetables. If you’re growing plants in the house, make sure you find out which plants are compatible for indoor environments.

  15. Make music. Learn how to play a musical instrument. Practice regularly and try to create your own songs. Pay attention to each note and how the silence between notes contributes to the music. If you don’t have an instrument, use different objects as drums and create some beats. Experiment with different sounds.

  16. Daydream. Find a comfortable spot, get a drink that you enjoy, and let your mind wander. Don’t try to control your thoughts too much. See where your thoughts take you and enjoy the journey.

  17. Volunteer. Find a cause you believe in and spend some time every month or week to help them out. Besides feeling good by helping others, you’ll get to meet new people and generate new connections.

  18. Experience boredom. When you experience boredom, stay bored for a while. Resist the urge to pick up a device to fill the void. The best ideas often come to people at times when they were bored. Boredom increases mental health and creativity, improves self-control, and serves as motivation to pursue new goals.

Choose a few of these 18 ideas and tips and practice them consistently. If you have additional ideas, please share them in the comments for this post online.

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Articles from around the web

🩸 Menstruation apps store excessive information, privacy charity says

[Sarah Marsh, The Guardian]

Eva Blum-Dumontet, a senior researcher at Privacy International, who used five apps and then asked what information was held about her using a data subject access request, said reading the findings was “chilling” and “it makes us realise just how much data those apps actually collect, store and sometimes share with others.”

📱 Dozens of Al Jazeera journalists allegedly hacked using Israeli firm's spyware

[Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Michael Safi, The Guardian]

Spyware sold by an Israeli private intelligence firm was allegedly used to hack the phones of dozens of Al Jazeera journalists in an unprecedented cyber-attack that is likely to have been ordered by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to leading researchers.


Dridi told the Guardian she had been shocked by the discovery. “I don’t know how to explain my feeling. It messes with your mind. Everything, your private life, it’s not private any more. It wasn’t [just] for a month, it was for a year, and they have everything: the phone calls, the pictures, videos, they can turn the microphone on,” she said. “It makes you feel insecure.”

🛰 AI and Satellite Data Could Help End Slavery on the High Seas

[Brian Kahn, Gizmodo]

A new study, though, aims to use satellite and machine learning to track ships that traffic laborers. The findings provide a conservative estimate that between 57,000 and 100,000 people were forced to labor on fishing vessels between 2012 and 2018. Though AI alone can’t end what the study calls a “humanitarian tragedy,” it can help start to penetrate the veil of secrecy around slave labor and end its practice on the high seas.

🤖 Neural’s AI predictions for 2021

[Tristan Greene, The Next Web]

It’s that time of year again! We’re continuing our longrunning tradition of publishing a list of predictions from AI experts who know what’s happening on the ground, in the research labs, and at the boardroom tables.

Without further ado, let’s dive in and see what the pros think will happen in the wake of 2020.

Quote of the week

“I don’t know how to explain my feeling. It messes with your mind. Everything, your private life, it’s not private any more. It wasn’t [just] for a month, it was for a year, and they have everything: the phone calls, the pictures, videos, they can turn the microphone on, it makes you feel insecure.”

—Rania Dridi, a London-based journalist for Al Araby network, from the article, “Dozens of Al Jazeera journalists allegedly hacked using Israeli firm's spyware” [The Guardian]

I wish you a brilliant day and year ahead :)