I’m way more addicted to the net than I thought.
After I installed IOS 12, I didn’t think much of the changes. Sure the notifications were a little different. There was a new measure tool. Meh. Nothing to get excited about. The phone worked as it always did and I just continued doing what I usually do. Binge on YouTube, check my email, hit up Facebook for gossip, check my Medium notifications and repeat. Maybe I’d answer the phone but to tell the truth, texting is so much easier right?
And then mid-swipe I noticed the new Screen Time app. It said I used my phone for more than seven hours.
Couldn’t be true could it? I pushed the screen and the app drilled down into the figure. No way I spent seven, almost eight hours on my phone. No way.
But the numbers didn’t lie. I spent two hours on social networking and almost three on entertainment.
Now I understand why it gets dark so soon. That’s where my day goes. That’s why I haven’t read a book on months. That’s why my guitar goes unplayed for weeks. Ditto for my camera. Only now I get why my wife sends me text messages when I’m in the toilet. Always something desperate like “Hurry up, I’m gonna explode out here.” Or, “Mitch, you have to go to work.” I’m only in there for 30–40 minutes at a time. Surely you understand Candy Crush does something restorative for the colon. It’s a kind of magic right?
Yeah yeah, I know it’s not healthy. But man I get my highest scores sitting on the throne.
But the message was clear, I was adrift in cyberspace and I wasn’t even aware I was lost.
I can honestly say I felt disgusted.
The thing is it didn’t happen in chunks of time. When I get up, I check my email. Follow that up with a circuit of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram (I just love the face filters, even the community created ones). Then I fire up YouTube to get hold of the news. Finally the Apple news feed grabs me up until I have my coffee.
And I repeat the circle of brain stim over and over during the day till night finds me curled up on my bed, peering into the dratted phone. Every day I learn something useless. I know how to Dougie (I watched Beebs do it), I can repair weed whackers (I’ve never owned one). I know how to use Cola to clean toilets and I’m currently learning how to Shuffle (even though I can’t imagine how my old knees will manage the insult).
I know who grumpy cat is. I have seen grown men ride shopping carts downhill and drop each other’s pants with pressurized hoses. I have even learned how to apply contouring makeup. I pray my sainted wife never finds out. Her tolerance ends the minute I get into her eye shadow. Sigh.
The question is what will I (or you) do, knowing we let our life dribble through our fingers even as we clutch our phones in death grips?
I decided to change my habits before I run out of time to do the things I once considered important. The first step for me was to set up time limits for my online activities. Entertainment would be given no more than one hour. Social media, I’d be willing to give another one. But that would be that. Nada mas. NO more.
Instead, I plan to give myself outward directed goals. I’ve always liked the idea that we are a kind of Trinity. A wonderful construct of mind, body and spirit all acting in harmony. Reading and creating will become my mental work. Gardening and Exercising would be the tasks assigned to my body and I intend to make time to refocus on things spiritual.
I might meditate more, even make the effort to find a good church (my definition of a good church is any one that does not have a card swipe machine beneath the staircase for large ahem ‘donations’) and I promise to share with any constant readers all the magic I find as I wander the paths of my life.
That was yesterday.
I just looked at my damn phone and, without a shred of shame, the phone told me, I spent five hours already on social media and entertainment. And it’s only 3.00 o’clock.
It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in our phones; they’re wonderful devices but they are the ultimate distraction. Between surfing the constant dopamine highs and the cynical software geeks programming apps to deliberately hijack our reward centers, we’ve lost control.
With apps like Screen Time, I pray we’ll find our way back. Cyberspace is pretty engaging. But we can get lost in there. Judging by the way everyone I see is glued to their phone, I wonder if we’ll ever make our way back.
Let’s talk about that.
Hi guys, I am surprised this article generated any interest. I’ve followed up with a part two if you would like to follow my progress. Cheers.