I'm back! Where did you go? Ha! Most probably didn't even notice. I took a much-needed reprieve. My phone, social media and networking were killing me. Ok, I wasn't dying physically but I had gotten to a point where I had consumed so much of everything and everyone else, I felt like I was dying a slow mental and emotional death. For the past few years I have taken time, either before or after my birthday, to just be without the influence of our beloved, IG, FB, Twitter and even Snapchat (even though no one really uses that anymore). This time around I felt the need to unplug immediately following my birthday dinner. There I was scrolling and clicking, clicking and scrolling. I hadn't looked up for I don't know how many minutes. I can't even remember what I was initially looking for, because that's how it starts right? You go on for one thing and then you look up and it's an hour later and you have done absolutely nothing but scroll and click. My focus shifted to reloading and refreshing, to see who liked my pictures and who watched my stories. That's when I knew it was time. Unplugging time was past due. The notice wasn't pink anymore, it was red. DISCONNECT IMMEDIATELY!
I am not even going to lie. I argued internally for a few days about it.
What if I just don't check it as often?
I don't need to actually delete the apps off my phone?
Do you have that kind of will power?
Maybe I can just use the new "downtime" feature.
I can set limits for myself.
The internal battle only furthered the notion. Unplug and do it now. Honestly, I don't think 3 weeks was enough time. It was certainly a little difficult in the beginning. I kept having the urge to pick up my phone to check out The Shaderoom's IG page or to see the latest videos my favorite bloggers posted in their stories. But I am proud to say that I resisted the urges and stuck to the challenge. Meanwhile I derived some reasons why it’s necessary for me (and probably you too) to unplug and unplug frequently.
Comparison is the thief of Joy
I often remind myself that it's not wise to compare. Most times I am perfectly fine celebrating the success of others. Despite the hell I've been through I can still be happy for newlyweds, new mothers and those posting their #relationshipgoals pics. I love seeing black women progressing in their careers, starting new business and reigniting old ones. The traveling abroad photos motivate me to make time to treat myself to a trip out of the country, rapido! During my downtime, I learned I had become slightly displeased with my present simply because it didn't look like those I follow. I was actually in a place where I started to covet some things and even people. It wasn't until week two, it dawned on me, we are the audience of everyone's highlight reel. It is rare moms post the bad and ugly that come along with the good. Most married couples don't post their "for worse" for everyone to see either. (If they do they need help). No wonder I had started to become unhappy, I was too busy comparing my Chapter 5 with someone else's Chapter 12. Unplugging helps eliminate ruinous feelings of envy, jealousy and even loneliness.
I am old enough to remember a time when folks actually spoke to one another face to face, without any distractions. Yes, once upon a time you could converse with someone without the wondering when they were going to put their phone down to actually look at you in the eye so you knew they were actively listening. Because it bothers me so much, I have put extra effort into being present while I am out to breakfast with the fam or on a date. My phone is usually in my bag on vibrate. I pay extra close attention when someone is having a serious conversation with me or have deemed it quality time. One thing I noticed I was not doing was giving my son that same treatment. It's so easy to come home after a long day, plop down on the couch and escape in the minutia of other people's lives. I noticed the kid becoming extremely annoyed, repeating mommy 20 times, trying to get my attention while I scrolled and clicked. Powering down for these past few weeks gave me time to be present as much as I could, with my son, my mom, with the guy and even with myself. Life happens right in front of me and being present is the best way to experience it.
Hi, my name is Minah and I am a (recovering) phone-aholic. Truthfully, I was addicted to the phone when people still used landlines. I was always on the phone. There was a need to always be connected and the phone did that for me. As cell phones became popular, I found myself in the same place. In fact, in the tenth grade, my father had purchased a cell phone for me and terminated the service, in just 3 months because I kept going over my minutes. It's no wonder I struggled with putting the phone down as more ways of staying connected became available. I am getting better at it now. I am learning to make better use of my time. There's nothing like scrolling the day away and wondering "Where has the time gone? and How come none of what I needed to get done is finished?" The only way to truly determine technology’s influence on my life was to turn it off, walk away, and sense how strong the urge was to turn it back on. It was strong! Of all things to be addicted to, I never want to walk away saying I was addicted to my phone. What a waste!
I had given myself to November 1st. Now that we are here, I am proud of myself. I lasted longer than I thought. It wasn't easy to let social media go. I struggled with FOMO badly. There were times i wanted to specifically express myself via social media but I had to find other ways. Balance is certainly key. I wanted to know what was going on in the world and this unplugged time forced me to seek the information using different avenues. Unplugging was hard but I know the consequences of being terribly engrossed in my phone would have been worse. I needed it and I will do it again, soon, and frequently.
Have you ever consciously unplugged for set time? How did it go for you?