Simple steps to escape your digital slavery


 

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"It sounds like a cliche, but you got to be a better person to engage with this. Otherwise, you're just going to be another one of the crowd that create drama content. That may make you rich, but your conscience will feel very heavy because you're contributing more to drama and unnecessary things in this landscape." — Jason Gregory
 

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In this episode, philosopher/documentarian and prolific content creator Jason Gregory shares his tips for utilizing digital tools to communicate and educate without letting them turn you into a “digital slave.”


This is taken from Curt Mercadante’s longer interview with Jason, which you can find here.


In Jason’s new book, Spiritual Freedom in the Digital Age. he reveals the psychological and spiritual damage digital technology and social media are having on the human mind, and gifts you a digital free lifestyle to reclaim your health and sanity for a better world.


Jason is an author and philosopher specializing in Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, psychology, cognitive science, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. For many years he has studied the spiritual traditions and meditative practices of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. He lives in Brisbane, Australia.


FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE:


Curt Mercadante:

We've talked about YouTube. You utilize YouTube. You put documentaries on YouTube. You're one of the most prolific YouTubers I've seen. Maybe that's because I pay attention to you and I see it. You have a Patreon channel. You're a Patreon. You have your podcast. You put all this content out. You have your books. And you rely on social media and digital tools to promote them.


Jason Gregory:

Yeah.


Curt Mercadante:

I do too. 90% of my income comes, or probably more, from LinkedIn. What are some concrete ways, short of everyone going on a 100% digital-free fast, which not even you have done... I mean, you don't have a smartphone. What are some concrete steps that someone can take to move in the direction of gaining back their spiritual freedom, unplugging from the algorithm, and utilizing the tools without having those tools use them?


Jason Gregory:

Exactly. Well, you mentioned one of the first things, if it's possible for people, is to probably get off the smartphone, because you can then utilize the technology that you have at... I utilize, obviously, computers and laptops to edit and film and have this conversation. I've got a camera here in the studio and utilizing it. It allows me actually to zero in on the content that I make a lot better instead of... I know people, actually, who edit on their phones and stuff, which I think would be a bit difficult, and then doing promotion.


Curt Mercadante:

I can't do that, yeah.


Jason Gregory:

No, it's too small.


Curt Mercadante:

I got fat thumbs.


Jason Gregory:

I don't know how they would do that. That would be one of the first things. Well, you don't have to get rid of your smartphone, but at least get rid of the apps on the smartphone and zero in on, what is it that you want? In your space, you talk a lot about entrepreneurship. And so as an entrepreneur, I don't really class myself as an entrepreneur, but I guess someone would probably say I am because I create all this content and make an income from it, is zero in on what it is that you really want. What do you want to create? "Okay, I want to create a business strategy to help people get better in business." Okay. Well, zero in on that and block out all the other noise.


Jason Gregory:

You don't really need a phone for that. You don't need to be engaged overly with that. Utilize the older technology to enhance the more recent technology. I know a lot of people watch my videos on their phones and that's all well and good. As I mentioned in the book, Curt Mercadante, it's not like a total destruction of digital technology. I talk about the benefits of technology and how we just got to be able to live better with it. For example, I always talk about India, because I've lived in India before. But in India, like in some poorer village, one of the boys has a smartphone. So they can watch my videos and your podcast. It's beneficial for them to learn things like that. They don't have access to a lot of information or libraries and this and that, so they don't have that access.


Jason Gregory:

Getting back to your question is first, getting rid of the smartphone. Don't overly engage with the digital world. Reduce your connectivity. This is a big problem that I had when I first started the YouTube channel, was I was trying to reply to every comment and then it becomes too much. You end up then for hours on end, you're replying to people and you don't really have to. So reducing your connectivity online in your space, but focusing on the work itself in the space, as opposed to the upkeep of the space. It comes back to the fundamentals as well, what we were talking about; get a lot of sleep, focus on meditation, get daily exercise, concentrate on nutrition, and again, zeroing in on what you really want to get out of this.


Jason Gregory:

The digital space is actually a beautiful thing, because people can engage in our conversation now. It's wonderful. It wasn't possible 15 years ago, if you can imagine. Just 15 years ago, you and I having this conversation, we could do it on Skype, possibly, the old version of Skype, but we couldn't be having a group chat where you record it, you're going to upload it later. And so this is a wonderful thing and this is how we actually should utilize digital technology. I think someone wrote a comment on my YouTube channel saying, "Your channel is what the internet is meant for." I think you've got to get into that space of, what would you like to provide in this space?


Jason Gregory:

Because all we see are people arguing, as we've talked about for the last hour, arguing, fighting, causing intentional drama online. What would you like to provide and how would you like to leave the world when you eventually die? Because what you're going to provide here in this space is going to contribute to something much bigger eventually. You're a piece of the puzzle, so embrace your piece and make sure you are putting out the best damn content possible that you can, that's going to contribute to the health and sanity of humanity. Because the way that the other tech companies and the way that a lot of content creators are going about it is they're not contributing to the health and sanity of humanity, so that's got to be your focus.


Jason Gregory:

It sounds like a cliche, but you got to be a better person to engage with this. Otherwise, you're just going to be another one of the crowd that create drama content. That may make you rich, but your conscience will feel very heavy because you're contributing more to drama and unnecessary things in this landscape.


Curt Mercadante:

Yeah, I've noticed. You mentioned taking things off your smartphone, or you don't even have a smartphone, and just making it that much more difficult. For instance, I'll watch some of your videos on my TV. We have you YouTube on the TV. Now, you don't want to become addicted to the TV. Like Netflix, the founder of Netflix said their competitor isn't anyone else. Their competitor is your sleep. He actually said that.


Jason Gregory:

Yeah, he said that. I heard that. Yeah, yeah.


Curt Mercadante:

It's like, oh my gosh. Now, he said that at a time before Disney Plus and Amazon Prime and all that, so now he's got competitors. But if you make it just a little more difficult, like your laptop, it's not the type of thing where... And I go through phases where... And there's some apps. There's one called Freedom, freedom.to. If you go there, you can actually lock down your computer and your phones during certain hours, because I assume you have certain hours. I know that you're big into time blocking. You write about that in Effortless Living. And you time block. I'm sure there's time blocks where... And I can tell this. I know that if I send you a message, you'll respond to it between these two hours, but then you're not online-


Jason Gregory:

Yeah, go on. Yeah.


Curt Mercadante:

- the rest of the time, so you use the tools and then you get the hell out.


Jason Gregory:

Get the hell out. Yeah, yeah. Time blocking's a big one, especially if you want to be productive and more successful, really. I'll use time blocking for anything, like if I'm writing books or even you and I having this conversation now. I mainly do interviews Friday morning for me in Brisbane time, which is Thursday night for yourself, and this is the same time that you and I had the conversation last time. Because I have the first four days of the week where I bang out a lot of work, maybe create video content, this and that, and usually it's in the morning. Around from 8:00 to 12:00 to 1:00, I'll be constantly working and then have my first meal at around 1:00 of the day.


Jason Gregory:

Then after that, then I'll check the emails. Then I'll check social media. I'll check the things that are secondary to actually the content. And I don't mean that in a negative way for people emailing me and so forth and so on. I appreciate that and you have to keep connected, but if I'm not making content, who's going to want to email me anyway?


Curt Mercadante:

Right.


Jason Gregory:

That's secondary. But that's after lunch, so that's at like 2:00 to 4:00, 3:00, where I might catch up with emails or check the YouTube comments. I'll write an email to you. Then my wife's home by that time, and then nighttime, that's our time. Obviously, Facebook and all of that, that's not on. If I have it on, it means I'm doing something unique for that period of time. For example, digital sunsets, I try to follow digital sunsets as much as possible, so I turn all screens off at around 6:00. But there are some times where I might have to be online a bit later. You don't want to make it so dogmatic, but you also don't want to be too loose with it as well.


Jason Gregory:

And I like what you said with accessibility. If you have too many of these things and it's too accessible, it's like having candy in front of a kid. You're going to pick that phone up. You know you're going to do it, and you're going to check that email. You're going to check that last post you sent out, so make it more difficult. Actually, this is a good thing even for myself, where I was actually too accessible for people online. There was some years there where I was far too accessible, and it actually wears you out psychologically, where you need to create a little bit of distance. I'm not saying that from a sense of arrogance, just in a way of trying to manage your energy systems.


Jason Gregory:

If you're constantly giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, you're going to burn yourself out, so you need to take some time for yourself. That allows your output actually to be more on point and pure, as opposed to being... Because that can train you to be a bit scattered as well, like you're a bit scattered, all over the place. You're replying here. You're trying to work. You're replying there. You're picking up your phone. It looks like not even controlled chaos. It just looks like pure chaos. That's what I try to tell people. I like what you said, not make it accessible. Make it difficult for you to check your email. Make it difficult.


Jason Gregory:

If you're working online, don't have all your tabs there. Don't sign in to your Hotmail, where you'll see the notification pop up and these things. Zero in on the work. Time blocking is the best thing. That allows you to go into deep work, to use Cal Newport's terminology. If you want to create valuable work, you need to do that.

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