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Let's Get Physical

Even though I spend hours on Instagram, YouTube, Netflix and WhatsApp, I would love for all of these technologies to go away. They distract me from living a more intimate life, connected to earth and real people. This week, the newspaper confronted me with a consequence of these online escapades. I read an article with the title: Een volkomen seksloze toekomst (A completely sexless future ), which sounded quite apocalyptic to me.

Recent data revealed that young people engaged in sex later than a few years ago. Reasons for this change provided by researchers included that it might have to do with the large amount of online stimulation via social media, porn and sexually charged popular culture.

During the pandemic, contact was mostly limited to the digital space, filled with Zoom meetings and online social gatherings. I too notice that this digital space takes up space in the social energy I have. Often starting the day with a useless scroll through Instagram, a vlog from a person thousands of miles away who lives an off-grid dream life in a tiny house and answering messages. During the day I check my social media, watch videos to relax and work/study online. To wind down in the evenings I might watch some Netflix and even put on an audiobook to fall asleep. Before Corona I was stricter with my sleep hygiene, keeping my phone and laptop out of the room whilst I was in dreamland. After reading the article in the paper, I felt confronted and in need of a digital detox.

This feeling is nothing new to me, since the bad effects of social media use are widely known for some time now. However, I keep making excuses to keep up digital appearances, I need it for social contact, digital FOMO, if you will. There is some truth in it, since the university is still partly online, and most assignments need to be signed in online anyway. Besides, the social network does connect me to people all over the world, as well as cool events and initiatives close by. Thus, perhaps there can be a middle way, a moderated digital detox. Alternatively, it can be a reappreciation of the offline.

The promised summer of love was anti-climactic to say the least. Not only did parties and festivals get cancelled, in The Netherlands it was more rainy than sunny. Part of me was slightly relieved because it seemed like an overwhelming shift from lockdown life to a summer of love. I find myself socially awkward after not meeting new people for a long time. I got disconnected from physical connection during the past few weeks which is not beneficial for my mental health. The past week made me realize how much I love being around inspiring people. I adore small touches, eye contact with strangers and the tingly feeling of a first kiss. The motivation to find a moderated digital detox is high, and I want to share my passion with intimacy so you can feel motivated too.

The idea of a sexless future filled with technology is quite depressing to me. Of course, there are a-sexual people who don’t feel the need to have sexual contact, but there is a whole other layer of intimacy that I think everybody would enjoy. Online contact takes away different dimensions of communication. You can’t smell, feel, taste and sometimes even see or hear the other people in the conversation. Whilst all these dimensions can be so important to truly connect and sense where the interaction is going. Even when you are in a real time, real life interaction with another person, you might be distracted by the technologies around you and the endless possibility that those technologies entail.

The detox could be a clear divide between offline and online time, making sure that the offline outweighs the online. This might mean setting boundaries at work, ensuring that you won’t send a quick mail right before bed if that is not absolutely necessary. For me personally, it is a long overdue shift in mindset. Just because I have the option to be accessible, connected and overstimulated with possibilities 24/7 does not mean that I should comply. I can choose to focus myself solely on the people right in front of me in that moment, or on myself and my surrounding in the absence of other people.

We live in a culture that values, or even pushes towards endless productivity. Which can lead you to feel obligated to have your phone close at all times and work with 13 tabs at the same time. Cyclical living, according to your body, the moon or natural seasons, can be a shift to tenderness, in all forms of life. A more sustainable relationship to work, others, your own body, and the planet. Whilst we’re slowly returning to a society that is not controlled by the virus, we have the option to live differently than before. You might have enjoyed certain parts of the quarantine lifestyle, habits that can serve you still. I love the feeling of being present. When I feel the blood pulsating through my body, the sun on my skin and the energy of the person I am with. Even little interactions like a smile from a stranger on the street or an encounter with a curious duck when laying on the riverbank, can give me so much pleasure.

My desire to live more intimately manifests itself in various aspects of life. You can find your own ways to slow down and be present, whether that is through cyclical living, nature walks, music, sex, or something else entirely. A moderated digital detox could start with leaving your phone in your bag whilst traveling to work, and just be, taking in the world around you I would urge you to find these pleasures, offline, for this sexless future that article suggested, sounds highly unromantic to me.



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