How do you know it’s time to take a break from your relationship…with your phone?
Picture this. You see your phone there on the table right next to you (because where else would it be, ever). It hasn’t buzzed or dinged or blinked with a notification, but when you look at it you still get this little thrill in your heart, and I’m talking actual physical sensation here, that there could be something new just waiting for you. And you fall into the habit of checking – habitually, obsessively, without even thinking – and little by little the content that used to appease you becomes nowhere near enough.
You find you’re annoyed that only two people have liked your Facebook post (even though it wasn’t really that interesting because nothing on Facebook is anymore), and you start getting angry – actually angry – when people haven’t posted anything on Instagram since the last time you looked.
Less than a minute ago.
Over the past few months, I’ve been falling deeper and deeper into a digital dependency, checking my phone constantly even when I knew there was nothing new to see, following Instagram accounts I didn’t really care that much about just because I knew with more accounts to follow there’d be a better chance for new content every time I looked. I’ve been turning into the worst kind of consumer, the kind that just takes and takes and takes but is taking very little of substance, and is focusing every scrap of attention on the next opportunity to take and on what’s missing rather than on what’s already right there in front of you, on and off the phone.
So, my phone and I are taking a little break. I’ve signed out of all social media apps and turned off notifications for my email accounts. I may even put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode 24/7 so I won’t get immediate, jump-on-it-now notifications of new texts (because what’s that important, really, over text?) and the only callers allowed through DND are my husband and immediate family so emergencies are covered. (Hopefully there won’t be any.)
I’m only taking a break for a week, because the nice people at Zebra have sent me some lovely pens with more on the way so I can review them on my social channels. Luckily, they didn’t say they needed to see videos/pictures/posts ASAP, and I’m sure a company that sells analog tools like pens will understand why I need a week away from the digital space and back in the real world, touching real things.
I was born in the early 80s, so I remember a time before we were all plugged in, and that’s what I’m aiming to go back to, at least for a little while. I plan to spend this week writing in my paper journal, writing letters to my pen pals, reading, and brainstorming for my next book. Playing with pens. Playing with paper. I just got a LootCrate and 2 stationery-based packages today, and I’m going to open them by myself and not take any pictures and not share anything because I want to remember what it was like before that was a thing.
I haven’t taken a hiatus like this in a long time, but I remember doing it a few years ago and feeling so much better and more balanced, like I didn’t need to have my phone on me all the time, like I could live perfectly well in the real world interacting with the few real people I keep close to me. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I do a facebook/instagram purge when I get back online – but for now, I’m just withdrawing from social completely, as a cleanse and a reset.
Not that I’m bashing social media; I’ve made some amazing friends online and I’ll miss seeing their posts for a week, but I know that the people worth keeping around are the ones who don’t mind when you disappear for a while. Besides, with so much content out there, most probably won’t even notice I’m gone – and that’s okay too.
I’ll be back online on Friday April 29th, and I’ll let you know how it went and what I did in my little analog world. Plus there will be pen reviews, a nice way to transition from analog back into the digital space.
See you later!
*I’ve had the good fortune to never be physically addicted to anything, and I in no way mean to compare my over-interest in the digital world with the hardships a person faces when they’re battling a more dangerous addiction.