7 Things to give up for Lent: Buzzfeed Quizzes, Mail Online, Inbox Zero

crazy-computer-woman-1.jpgInstead of giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent (assuming you want to take part in the archaic act of giving up luxuries for weeks on end all in the name of religion), why not try something a little different this year.

We all know what’s good for us when it comes to giving up indulgences when we’re out and about in the real life world, but what about our social media habits and online vices?

Here are our top suggestions filled with addictions to kick, habits to curb and expectations to lower in order to make you more awesome and (maybe) happier.

1. Mail Online’s ‘Sidebar of Shame’

Over the past few years it’s become known universally as the ‘Sidebar of Shame’ and for those who aren’t mainlining its hate-fuelled headlines 24/7, we’re referring to Mail Online’s brilliant blend of human tragedy and misogyny all presented in a handy, infinite column that will lead you straight down to the seventh and eighth levels of hell.

This spawn of hatred comprises of two main things: 1) standard sensationalist fodder and/or racist nonsense, like “foreign man microwaves 56 BRITISH cats” or “immigrants WILL eat your babies”, and 2) the incessant belittling of women’s bodies.

Somehow it’s the most visited news site in the whole wide world, so as much as we bitch and moan and berate it, we’re all still addicted to that weird mix of self-loathing and complete and utter despair we get after reading it.

What to try instead:

Us Vs Th3m is here to rescue you from wallowing in a pit filled with revulsion for the human race and photos of Kim Kardashian’s boobs with its aptly named Sidebar of Awesome, complete with viral photos, awesome quizzes and just enough celebrity gossip to keep you away from the Sidebar of Shame.

If we really can’t prise your fingers away from Mail Online, then at least ditch the SoS and take a look at the Science & Tech section of the site, which is bound to leave you feeling a little more enriched and enlightened.

2. Buzzfeed’s crack-like quizzes

We’ve already written about our unrelenting addiction to Buzzfeed’s quizzes and the hold it has over our day not knowing which Benedict Cumberbatch we’d be or whether we’d embody Buffy or Faith in a vampiric showdown.

Although we don’t think incessant quiz-taking is quite as damaging to our minds as the Sidebar of Shame, it might be time we admitted our issues and took a break from needing constant validation from Buzzfeed about who we are and what Modern Family character we’d be. Well, at least for the next few weeks until just after Lent when we’ll spend 72 hours straight completing all of the quizzes we missed in a pool of cold sweat and shame.

What to try instead:

Buzzfeed gets a bad rep for being the go-to site for quizzes about gifs and lists about cats and quizzes about cats and lists about gifs, but in actual fact it’s bursting with up-to-date entertainment and current affairs news, some of the best long form content we’ve read in a while over at BuzzReads and (our personal favourite at the moment) a DIY section that’s bound to excite the most hardcore lifehacking fans.

3. Constantly checking your emails on your commute

Oh come on, we all know the routine. Try to check emails. Try to refresh. Refresh again. 3G doesn’t work. Flight mode on. Flight mode off. No 3G. Refresh again. Some signal. Two emails arrive in your inbox. Open them. Nothing downloads. Try to read them. Can’t. Get onto the tube. Sign into Wifi. Train arrives. Knocked off Wifi. Attempt to sign into Wifi again. Train moves away. Arrive at next station. Sign into Wifi. Train arrives. Knocked off Wifi. Attempt to sign into Wifi again. HEAD. WINDOW. ARGH. LIFE.

What to try instead:

To the incessant checker, the email worrier, the panicked social media addict this will seem like a crazy or even TERRIFYING suggestion. But let’s all agree that it’d be far easier if we imposed some kind of constant-checking-while-commuting ban, right?

Instead of keeping an eye on things and playing a not even at all thrilling game of do-I-or-don’t-I-have-wifi Russian Roulette with yourself every morning, try something else. Listen to music, download some podcasts (yes they still exist) or better yet you little zen urban commuters, try some meditation on-the-move. We love Buddhify, just download it and choose the travelling option for a range of mini meditations to calm you down and keep you on track for the rest of the day. Or at least to stop you going all angry, violent and Hunger Games on your fellow commuters.

4. Aimlessly pinning absolute nonsense

If you’re not a Pinterest addict move on now, but if you are you’ll know what I mean by aimless pinning. It’s all very primal in the most absolutely useless way and follows a pattern a bit like this: “PRETTY THING, NICE. OHH SHINY. MUST PIN.” Then repeat that about 986746 times over the next five hours and you’ve got aimless pinning. Pinning for the sake of it. Pinning for absolutely no reason other than your eyes have seen things they like.

What to try instead:

Of course there’s nothing wrong with doing something because it feels good, but if more than two hours of your week are spent on Pinterest you may need to evaluate things a little – and by things I mean your relationship with other human beings as well as your social media habits.

Begin pinning with a goal in mind, maybe you want to get inspiration for a dress you need to buy soon or a room you plan on decorating (yes we’re well aware these examples are achingly cliche). Once you’re pinning a little more mindfully, follow the rules a bit more, label your boards with something that makes sense, not something that just makes you sound like a hipster, and tag each pin too. Sure it can look messy but it makes Pinterest more useful to you and everyone else who uses it.

5. The pursuit of the elusive (and soul destroying) “inbox zero”

Ahh inbox zero, a weird construct that manages to make someone bragging on Twitter feel great at the same time as it makes someone else feel completely and utterly worthless. Somehow getting rid of that little number and whittling all of your tasks and plans and commitments away makes you feel more accomplished, more human, more Spartan-like. But this Beyonce-style badassery lasts approximately ten minutes until you’re inundated with more junk and again on the pursuit of inbox zero.

What to try instead:

Not giving a crap. Seriously. That little number next to your inbox does NOT correlate with how good a person you are. Not in the slightest. In fact clutter is OK and shows everyone you’re normal. (Just take a look at Patrick Bateman’s apartment in American Psycho if you don’t believe us). The constant reaching to rid your life of distractions will end up driving you slowly insane or at the very least losing you a few Twitter friends who are sick and tired of your humble bragging.

6. Using Twitter to rant, debate and say anything meaningful

Yes, Twitter is great for some things (like shameless self promotion and selfies), but for others it’s flawed because it’s so restrictive. We’d like to argue (and we’re sure many would disagree) that it doesn’t really lend itself to a good debate. A debate with context. A debate with more than just acronyms and swears.

What to try instead:

Medium is fast-becoming a favourite among Twitter lovers for taking musings about life, work and the universe into a much more word-friendly environment. Sure you can stumble across the same problems you would elsewhere (like rambling and general nonsense), but Medium’s super sparse and simple format means that, just like Twitter, it’s all about the content, there’s just more room to really make what you’re saying shine. Sure it’s not the best platform for debating, but you can certainly cram in a lot more and present your arguments in a better way when you’re got something meaningful to say.

7. Your lame attitude towards your health and fitness

Yeah, that old chestnut. When you’re busy and tired and stressed and drunk it can be hard to care about what you’re putting into your body and how much you’re moving it around. We all know that. But now there are so many apps, services and handy gadgets that’ll do all (OK some) of the hard work for you. So instead of giving up something for Lent, just get rid of your lame and whiny “It’s too hard” attitude.

What to try instead:

These days there are health and fitness gadgets to suit all budgets. If you’re willing to part with more pennies you’ll obviously get a better product and many on the market are so comprehensive they really will set you on the right track when it comes to improving your health and fitness (I’m still waiting on the one that’ll knock the cookies out of my hand).

For basic step-tracking on a budget try Noom and Moves, for something a bit more substantial get a FitBit Zip, for the brand conscious a Nike+ FuelBand will sort you out and for those with cash we’d highly recommend a Jawbone UP24 – that’s until a load more devices are launched later in the year.

Related: Will you ever get sick of Buzzfeed’s quizzes? I got never, I need them to breathe!!

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About the Author

Becca Caddy

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Editor Becca is passionate about health, fitness and wellbeing. She’s particularly interested in wearable technology, how our mobiles can help us to get fitter and ways to introduce mindfulness and meditation into our busy working lives. As a northerner living in London, she loves exploring the city, going to the cinema at every possible opportunity and Instagramming everything that crosses her path.





Becca Caddy7 Things to give up for Lent: Buzzfeed Quizzes, Mail Online, Inbox Zero
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