Phones, Social Media, and the #Offline48 Challenge

I’ve spoken in previous posts about social media and how it has both a light and a dark side. It’s fantastic for connecting people but it’s also unfathomably addictive. To narrow this discussion down even further, today I’m going to talk specifically about phones.

It’s how you’re reading this right now, isn’t it?

I only got my first smart phone at twenty-one. So when my university friends couldn’t go without theirs, I’d laugh and claim how ridiculous their addiction was. Now, I’m that person. The one who needs to check her emails every few minutes and is scrolling Twitter for hours (despite ninety percent of it being bollocks).

It’s a nervous tick. In awkward situations I’ll check my phone. If I’m bored on a bus or in a café alone, I’ll check my phone. Except there’s nothing I’m actually checking for. I know nothing interesting will have appeared since the last time I checked (agents won’t respond faster because I’ve kept a vigil over my inbox). Instead I could be observing the real world around me or reading a book. Writing one. The endless scrolling is eating up my life and I hate myself for getting sucked into it.

Enough is enough.

I recently moved away and have been using this as an excuse to start fresh. To become better than the tired, depressed husk I was back in Cornwall. This image of future me—a healthier, happier person—has been in my mind for years. So what better opportunity to make myself more like her? I’ve got a new job (albeit still part time), taken up running (ouch), and am eating way fewer animal products. I’m on a healthier path both physically and mentally. But the phone thing I just can’t kick. It’s my crutch in this place where I don’t really know anyone, am living with two (lovely) girls who less than a month ago were total strangers, and am throwing myself into new situations daily. My introvert brain needs something and it’s clung to my phone.

But the thing is, with the exception of the glorious Google Maps, I know I don’t actually need my phone on twenty-four-seven. I went without all week when I was in Belgium last November, after all. Therefore, when I heard about the #Offline48 challenge run by Venetia Falconer over on Instagram (ironically) I knew this could be the push I needed.

It does what it says on the tin. Venetia and her partner switch off their phones Friday night and don’t turn them back on until Monday morning. A complete digital detox every single weekend. Which sounds terrifying…but also glorious.

Now, before I get the angry comments (yes, I see you there with your fingers hovering over the keys), I know this isn’t feasible for everyone. If you have no other means of contact and are worried in case of emergencies then maybe you can simply cut down instead of going cold turkey? Perhaps leave your phone on loud so you can hear calls but don’t check. Or use it, as I did in Belgium, simply as a camera by switching to aeroplane mode.

Either way, join me or don’t, but I’ll be turning off my phone on Friday night and not turning it back on until Monday morning. If you need me…write a letter, I guess.

 

[As I mentioned, I’m starting a new job in a bit, but it’s only for two days a week until January. If you have any freelance writing you want done, or want to sponsor a blog post, please feel free to contact me. Alternatively, and if you’re willing/able, you can donate to my KoFi. I’m feeling so positive about this move but I’m terrified it’ll all come crumbling down over money. Ugh money. Have a fabulous day, everyone, and as always if you need a safe space to talk my messages are open!] 

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