Ruwandi Perera presents a shortlist of  New Year resolutions for your digital selves

The sooner you make New Year resolutions, the sooner you can break them… or so they say! But that shouldn’t stop anyone from having resolutions because every January offers us another chance to get it right.

Apart from resolutions such as ‘I will drink less,’ ‘I’ll work out more,’ ‘I will spend quality time at home’ and ‘I’ll find my soul mate,’ it is wise to include some digital resolutions since our online lives are becoming increasingly important.

Security is a major issue and cybercrime is going through the roof so it’s high time to stop using ‘123’ as your password. And 2018 might be a good year to go beyond using only letters to insert some numbers and symbols in there. Also, for those of us who use the same password across all platforms – be it Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or even our computer – it could be time to stop underestimating the potential of hackers!

Impulsiveness (i.e. when we act without thinking things through) is probably not a great idea when it comes to online shopping but it’s even worse when you’re active on social media.

So what if you don’t agree with veganism? What if you think that spending exorbitantly on pet grooming is stupid? Think, feel, react or even take action… but only after you’ve thought about it for at least 10 minutes.

Facebook statuses and comments are excellent ways to practise freedom of expression, and this applies to everyone – not just you. And in most instances, it is wise to adopt the golden rule of ignoring that which you can’t control – i.e. what other people say or do. Yes, you can comment on it but try not to make someone else’s post an invitation to start an online brawl! It’s ugly, petty, childish and when looking back after a year, foolish.

Besides, with an increasing number of employers (and even marriage matchmakers) perusing Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, and Instagram accounts to screen and recruit suitable people, you really don’t want all those angry posts creating a negative impression, do you? So resist the temptation to respond… and worse, express everything you feel.

If you’re one of the many hundreds of mobile users who are always short on memory, decluttering your phone every two months or so might be a good resolution to keep this year. Go through your photos and delete the 10-plus selfies you clicked while trying to get a good one to upload on Instagram. Keep only the best photographs.

And unless you’re in that honeymoon phase of your love life, delete messages that aren’t important and keep texts only for a month. The same goes for your WhatsApp: if you really want to save all the photos and videos you receive, that’s fine; but you probably don’t even open some of those viral videos of cute puppies. So adjust your WhatsApp settings so that images and videos aren’t saved automatically.

This also applies to your computer. We have hundreds of photos and videos eating up space on our machines, most of which are duplicates thanks to the practice of making more backups than needed. Invest time to sit through and ‘clean’ your photo folders, and maybe print some. Or upload them to the iCloud or Google Drive, or even onto a hard drive.

To increase space on your computer, be tech smart by clearing your ‘Downloads’ folder and browser history – yes, they all add up!

Studies have indicated that spending too much time on Facebook and other social media platforms can leave you depressed – especially when you’re sitting at your computer trying to stick to multiple deadlines and your bestie maintains a livestream of scuba diving in the Bahamas!

And all those sad stories – of cancer patients, hungry kids, pollution, rape victims and even motor accidents – can make life sadder than it is. Yes, you must be compassionate towards the less fortunate but that doesn’t include feeling miserable while clutching your phone in the comfort of your living room.

Having a healthy home page is good. And guess what? You can delete those ‘online friends’ whom you never actually meet but keep sharing videos of horrific suicides and psychopathic killers. Select and remove them – it’s that simple. Social media should be constructive rather than being your daily dose of unhappiness!

Another New Year resolution you should consider is to be hygienic when using phones, tabs, laptops and even good old desktop computers. Clean your device especially if you’re using a cover and you’ll be surprised how much dust it accumulates. And if you’re a heavy headphone user, clean your earbuds at least weekly – dip a cotton swab in eau de cologne, and remove the dirt, earwax and dust carefully.

So whether you call it a ‘New Year resolutions list’ or not, it’s never too late to start leading a healthy digital life.