Welcome to one of my largest inner quarrels. I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while now, because recently been thinking a lot about my relationship with social media, the internet, my creativity and my phone (perhaps prompted by a Cambridge based Analytical company). So, here’s the long and short of it:
I think I have a phone addiction
Not surprising, honestly. Most people my age do. Think about it, when was the last time you turned off your phone? Not put it on vibrate, or silent, or do-not-disturb, I mean, actually turn it off. I did it last night, before that, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I’m not sure I’ve ever turned this phone off since I got my new one last year. Phones have this sense of urgency to them, that if you were to turn them off, something might happen, and you won’t know about it.
I want to establish something early on here, however. I’m known at Uni as something of a `Grandma`. I don’t have Whatsapp. I don’t use Facebook, not even the messenger. I have to be That Guy at group meetings who asks: “Can someone email it to me?”. This is mostly due to the surprising blessing of the tiny amount of storage space that Android phones are infamous for. The apps on my phone are what I used to call “My Essential Apps”, and were all (Minus a meditation app, one for productivity, and Spotify) stored in one folder aptly named: “Socials”, that looks like this:
Of all of them, I am the most active on Twitter (much to the disappointment of, I think, everyone who unfortunately follows me). This little screenshot of 7 Apps consumes a stupid amount of my life (except Google Hangouts, which my mum uses to send me pictures of my dog). For a long time I’ve considered these Absolutely Essential.
I’m an Insomniac. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Depression. Almost every night, without fail, I’ll turn off my laptop (around 11, if I’m well-behaved, but more realistically about 1am), then just continue watching Buzzfeed Unsolved on my phone. Twitch is the worst enabler for this. I’ll turn off whatever I’m watching on my laptop, try to sleep for 20mins, then pick it back up on my phone, and because Twitch VODs or livestreams can go on for hours (I’m looking at you Sam Streams-For-13-Hours-Regularly Thorne), I never sleep. My blood is coffee ect.
There have been some Incredible videos on this topic recently (The irony of this is not lost on me, I promise). The one that really opened my eyes, however, was this one from Vox, where they talk about the actual DESIGN that makes phones so addicting:
The tips in this video are actually pretty good, especially the notification thing. I’d done this a while ago, luckily. I’ve actually tried every single tip in this video, and they work! Yet, I think the question at the end of this video is way more important:
“What is genuinely worth your attention?”
It’s a meme, especially in the writing community, that every 200 words, you check Twitter. Concentrating on creative endeavours when all the social internet is RIGHT THERE is almost impossible. Anytime anyone wants to talk to you, even when it’s not important, they can make a lil push notification show up, and then it IS important. You are never really disconnected from the rest of the world. You are always, in essence, hanging out with other people, and that makes writing (and being incredibly introverted) really, really hard.
This is where dumb phones come in. A dumb phone is a colloquialism for a phone with no social apps on them. Literally just calls, texts and a camera, like the ol’ flip phone you had in 2005. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t wanted to uninstall all my social media apps for a while now. John Green did it while writing `Turtles all the Way Down`, and cannot understate how important it was, and it makes sense, right? If people need to reach you, they can reach you. Urgent means urgent again. If I wanna check Twitter, I have to do it on my laptop, in the evening, when it’s my downtime. Plus, I have extensions to manage that problem.
So why don’t I? Why haven’t I done it already?
Simple. It’s expected. People already gawk when they say I don’t have Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger on my phone. I had 2 group projects this semester, and in both cases, there have been group chats I was not in that people had to text me summaries of when decisions had been made. I wasn’t part of the discussions, I just showed up when I was told. When something goes off in our fridge in our flat, our group chat gets a Snap. When my room-mate moves to a new Uni, we’ll keep in contact via Snapchat before anything else. I can’t have Snapchat on my laptop, can I?
I’m not claiming to know the answer here. I might just pull the bandaid off and go for it. Maybe I’ll just commit to turning my phone off Off in the evenings. Maybe I’ll *gasp* uninstall Twitter as the ultimate cold-turkey. I got rid of Tumblr a few months ago due to storage problems, and my time on it has basically halved. I haven’t thought about post-limit in ages.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, I’ll give it a go. Maybe I’ll do an update blog? Lemme know in comments if you’d read that, or if you’re willing to give it a go yourself.
In an example of how social media is actually useful, here’s a YouTube playlist about videos that have really pushed me to think about this topic. Please watch them. Most of them are under 5 mins long, and I swear they’re not all as ominous as the first one: