Sometime last week, one of my best friends broke her iPhone – a heart-wrenching occasion, especially if you haven’t activated your iCloud. After going a day or two off the grid, she is now on a renewed kick to reduce her social media action, living beyond the control of her device. Obviously in this day and age it’s easier said than done. I feel like there’s a constant pressure to be “creating,” whether it’s someone commenting that you “never Snapchat them back” or another asking you to upload those photos you took weeks ago that they’ve been waiting to see.
Within the discussion about her phone, my friend mentioned that she likes that I am irregular about posting Instagrams, noting that it’s nice to sometimes add mystery by keeping people guessing about what you’re doing. Obviously I found this to be somewhat amusing since out of all our friends I’m the only one that feels a need to share my thoughts/photos with the digital world through a blog…but she has a point. I Instagram infrequently, I certainly don’t tweet as often as a lot of my friends, and it could take me a week to respond to a Facebook comment/post. I could try to take the compliment and play it off like I’m being mysterious, trying to keep people guessing about my life. The truth, though, is that my behavior is by no means intentional – I don’t purposefully take tech breaks.
A large aspect of being a vigilant social media user involves being able to take a moment away from whatever is going on to record what’s happening. Maybe I should be thankful that I’m terrible at dividing my attention? I have to stop talking to type a text; I have to stop walking to take a picture. Both cannot happen simultaneously. Maybe my less-attached nature stems from the fact that I was absent-minded about technology when I was younger? I don’t freak out if I don’t have my phone because back in the day, mine was always dead (much to my mother’s displeasure). I was that person whose mom had all her friends’ cell numbers because it was more reliable to contact them than me. Whoops. Perhaps, as my friend so kindly suggested, it’s because I took a slew of Buddhism courses senior year and learned about the importance of overcoming our sense of attachment to the world? I’ll keep my fingers crossed there, because the last time i checked enlightenment didn’t seem to be my foremost thought.
Whatever the reason may be, I’m okay with occasionally unplugging. When my boyfriend and I hiked recently, I specifically left my phone at our bed and breakfast. I enjoyed it. Ever the perfectionist though, I’d like to get better. When I was in college, I’d have to set up website blockers when i had a paper to do. Even when I get in bed to read a book, my phone has a tendency to suck me back in to its constantly-updating depths (#help).
Some bloggers I follow set a time of night when they stop looking at screens. Some people shut off their phones after a certain hour (this would be tough because I’d have to go back to having an alarm clock…). Some people put their phone on silent for periods of time and only check it once in a while. I’m open to new suggestions here – how do you unplug?