I’m addicted to my phone. I have it with me all the time. I check it probably hundreds of times a day. I spend hours messaging people and hours on social media. It runs my life. Phone addiction is a real thing, and I’m sure there are people reading this that have the same problem. It’s widely known now that when you check your phone and you have a notification, it increases your dopamine levels, and that’s why we keep doing it.
I feel more and more that smart phones have ruined my attention span and ability to focus. Sometimes I will be listening to a podcast or watching a TV show, and I will still check Twitter or be Whatsapping someone at the same time. It’s distracting, time wasting, and bad for your health. I often have days where I think what did I actually do today? And the answer is just play on my phone.
At the weekend I went away to Suffolk for a friend’s wedding. I didn’t know there was going to be a beach nearby so that was a nice surprise, as I fucking love beaches. (Not packing a bikini did not stop me, as I can swim just as mediocrely in a vest top and shorts). There was no signal at all on the beach, and it made my beach experience so much better. I did take some pictures but that only took a few minutes.
The rest of the time, I wrote my morning pages and then I swam for ages because there was literally nothing else for me to do. It was a great spontaneous artist’s date, that I could just enjoy for what it was without mindlessly scrolling my Facebook news feed.
On the walk back to the B&B I got signal, (this was handy to check I was walking in the right direction because I’d got a lift on the way there), but the walk took longer than it was meant to, as I kept checking my phone. I did have to send one message about arrangements for getting to the church later, but the others could have waited. I also accidentally sat on a stinging nettle when I stopped to do stuff on my phone, so I guess that was the universe’s way of telling me to get off my fucking phone. Having said that, I discovered that I actually quite like the feeling of stinging nettles, and could totally incorporate this into some kinky outdoor sex in the future.
Recently I have been trying to put my phone on flight mode when I want to get stuff done, but I still find that 5 minutes later I will just take the phone off flight mode. Today I really wanted to try and break this habit, so I intentionally went out without my phone for probably the first time in about 16 years.
And again, without being able to use my phone, I had an awesome time. I took some bags to the recycling centre, then walked to Ally Pally park. With no phone to distract me, I noticed my surroundings more. I looked at the clouds. I watched a bee pollinate every flower in sight, and enjoyed the feeling of the grass under my skin and bare feet.
It was a little frustrating not being able to take any photos, but I soon got over it. I wrote a few poems in my notebook and appreciated just being in the park. I wished I’d taken my hula hoop, so maybe I will do that in future. I had no idea what time it was, because I haven’t worn a watch since circa 2004, but there was something really lovely about this. Eventually I realised I was going to get hungry soon and needed to get some dinner. So next time I will take food too.
Being in the shops was another challenge, as I didn’t have anything to occupy myself while queuing, but it was actually okay. I channelled my inner 90s gal and it worked. I feel like we were all so much more patient back then. Because you had to be. You had to wait for so long for everything. Music, TV Shows, Movies, Dial Up Internet.
You had to actually phone someone on a landline if you wanted to talk to them. And sometimes they weren’t in. If you wanted to skip a song, you had to fast forward and then guess when to stop it. And then maybe sometimes you went too far and you had to rewind. When you stopped that cassette tape in just the right place, that was a satisfying moment. We don’t have moments like these anymore. Everything is at our fingertips, which is why we get so impatient if someone doesn’t text back straight away or our WiFi stops working. But maybe we should learn some of the patience we had back then.
When I got home, I resisted the urge to check my phone, and put my food in the fridge first. Then I went on my phone and immediately lost 10 minutes of my life to Twitter, so now it’s on flight mode, and has been for the last three hours. Go self control. I’m definitely going to try and go out without my phone more often, and hopefully this will train my brain not to check it all the time when I do have it with me. Because I don’t want to look back on my life and realise I wasted half of it staring at a little screen.
Smartphones are great, and social media is great – I wouldn’t have so many people reading my blog without it. But like everything in life – they need to be consumed in moderation.