Fifteen Minutes

Emine Ebru Arslan
7 minutes

City life has a vortex-like rhythm that sets priorities and immerses people. We put our work at the center and weave the rest of our lives around it. In fact, perhaps at least eight out of every ten people we randomly turn on the street will confess that they are busy doing a job that they cannot identify with, that they cannot give real meaning to. The work we do, often carelessly and casually, just to earn a living… This is the main source of unpleasantness in our lives.

Second, for most of us, is the time spent on the road. In a metropolis like Istanbul, if our home and work are not significantly close, we consider traffic as an indispensable preoccupation. If we spend, at best, nine hours a day at work, two hours on the road, and feel obliged to allocate a reasonable amount of time for sleep, then we have no more than 5-6 hours left. We save what we want to read, what we want to do, everyone and everything else we want to meet and see for vacations that never come. We have spent at least 240 days a year like this.

But in these limited and precious hours, we never neglect to look at the screen. At work, on the road, at home, in a café, while waiting somewhere, while chatting with a neighbor… Although smartphones only date back to the last 15 years, we have embraced digitalization with our flesh and bones. Being online has become as existential as eating and drinking.

Digital 2022 Global Overview Report, published regularly in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite [1] of our 85 million registered population, 70 million are online. As a nation, we spend an average of 3 hours a day on social media. Turkey is the 4th slowest country in the world internet, but it is the most active user of social media in the world. It is the 6th country. As of the beginning of 2022, Turkey is the most active user of Instagram in the world. What can we say, we like to keep a record of our lives on Insta. As well as the most video game players in the world We are the 7th country. Most shoppers online We are the 6th country. We love buying cryptocurrencies. We have become the country that buys the most cryptocurrencies in the world, hurray! We are again at the top in the use of internet channels such as Netflix. What can we say, we are a nation with high digital adaptation.

Even if we cannot have the lives we dream of, we experience the unbearable lightness of watching what we think we have or assuming another identity on the screen. It’s a way to escape from reality or to escape from the weight of daily routines. On the other hand, somewhere in the back of our minds we are reminded that the hours we devote to the screen do not translate into useful and meaningful pursuits, they are wasted time. We do not know how much is left in our time bank, and it is not as if we do not do some soul-searching because we are wasting a significant part of it.

For those who equate digital adaptation with modernity, these statistics may seem good news, but they are actually bad news. Leaving aside the sense of emptiness caused by wasting time, we may be the country that experiences digital deformation the most. The decline in our attention spans, the further consolidation of our place as the country with the most pathetic book reading rates in the world, the fact that we are second to last in the world in learning something new [2]When read together with all these data, the problem shows itself more clearly. With the hypnotic effect that our babies experience when we put the phone in their hands, and with the food we cram into their mouths, our children, whose mental nourishment we leave incomplete because we fail to teach them to ask, question, read and learn, enter the system as new soldiers.

So how do we break this vicious circle? This article shouldn’t end with romantic but unlikely inspirations to go and open a guesthouse in an Aegean town to enjoy life, or to plant your vineyard or orchard and immerse yourself in nature. Nor should it simply offer screen detoxes, systematic slowdowns or mindfulness exercises. On the contrary, could there be a way to improve the quality of life where it is and within the existing conditions? Isn’t there a way to have less wasted time, to start doing something more meaningful?

Instead of trying to change life radically, let’s make way for small but steady steps to bring transformation. Initially with only 15 minutes a day. Yes, let’s start with just 15 minutes and make a difference in our lives.

There is no excuse for not being able to set aside only 15 minutes from social media, which we allocate an average of 3 hours a day. We may not be able to change the world with 15 minutes a day, but we can add something different, instructive, healing and even soul-nourishing to our world.

We can start reading from somewhere. We can pick up a book and read only 15 minutes a day. Who cares if the book takes five months? As long as we don’t quit.

Members of the “I understand English but I can’t speak it” club always have course plans that they postpone until another spring. With only 15 minutes of today, instead of the unpredictable courses of the future, those passes can be solved. We can even start a new language.

We can try to learn an instrument. With the understanding of the virtuosos who have given their lives to this work, we are happy even if we can finally perform a few melodies.

We can do a handicraft like sewing or embroidery. Even if we have never had anything to do with crochet and skewers until today, even if we know that the sweater we will start in winter will not be finished until the next winter… Whatever, let’s just keep knitting…

If we have fifteen minutes, we can do body movements. In fact, I personally can do the movements on the paper that the doctor I went to for my back discomfort showed me with a lot of effort and handed me the recipes. If I’m consistent enough, maybe even my bad posture will go away.

Or we could start walking. A brisk walk is 1.5 kilometers in 15 minutes, which is close to 2000 steps. Although it’s still a long way from the 10,000 steps recommended by experts for health, it’s a sport in itself if we continue regularly.

We can knock on the doors of our elderly neighbors, whose doors are not opened by many people, and whose doors we would like to open but “don’t have time” in the hustle and bustle of life. Or we look for a creative way to do something for someone in need. There are already so many studies that have shown the relationship between personal happiness and benefiting others.

The options are endless. We all have an option to add joy, healing and nourishment to our lives according to our needs. There is no need to bet. Just fifteen minutes a day. But never under any circumstances. The magic word here is stability.



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