Lately I’ve been limiting my personal time spent online scrolling through so-called news feeds; this is ironic for two reasons. The first being my job requires me to work extensively online in blogging, social media, and video conversations, promotions, and creations. The second is I recently upgraded my phone and needless to say moving up in the smartphone world and yet turning off my data is a little backwards. But, I have a feeling my changing online habits are actually thanks to my job rather than in spite of it.
After using too much data in the first days after buying my new phone, I turned off my data and have since felt a remarkable weight lifted – I can’t be reached during my morning and evening walking commute, and I have to actively retrieve notifications and emails rather than have them pushed to me. Creating the simplest barrier between unlimited internet access and adding one extra step before I jump online has significantly changed the way I’m engaging with the devices we so desperately cling to.
The other day as I walked to work in the morning I thanked myself for making the effort to wake a little earlier so I could enjoy my morning walk; I’d been tempted to sleep the extra bit, but I pushed myself, knowing how much I love my morning walk that helps me welcome the day. As I walked, Sigur Ros coming through my earbuds, my first instinct was to write a quick tweet about how I was feeling. Pulling out my phone, I remembered I would have to turn my cellular data back on, so I decided it wasn’t worth it; so, I enjoyed the feeling to myself, instead. Instantly and for the rest of my walk, I noticed and I felt more.
I’ve come to assume the level of dependency I place on my device is normal and I justify it as “nowhere near as bad as many other people.” But the truth is every time we pull out the phone to shut out the world, we do just that: we shut out the sensory experiences around us, and clutter our brains with feeds rather than singular thoughts of our own.