Musings: Anti-social Media- Part One

Hi, I’m Ashleigh and I am addicted to my phone *round of applause*. 

I know…. the first step is admitting that you have a problem. And mine is that from the moment I open my sleepy little eyes, until the moment that I crash in bed, that phone is glued to my hand. Permanently.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Emails, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Texts.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

I’ve always been a MASSIVE social media fan since the good old days of MSN and Myspace. Hi 10 layers of Avon foundation, white eyeliner and assymetric fringe Ashleigh….you’re so scene! 

However, I’m not quite sure when social media moved along the continuum from a hobby to a Valencia filtered prison.

WOW, I realise that sounds really dramatic. Let me elaborate….

Actually, it’s pretty glaringly obvious when our generation started to develop in to complete social media zombies with phones for arms,  and it was the dawn of the SMART phone.

Prior to that, you sent 12p text messages to your buddies from your pay as you go Nokia (HI SNAKE!) and sent just the minimum amount of characters to make arrangements and plans within a word limit- my credit ain’t gonna last all day and I cannot afford to go in to 2 messages…girl please!

We might have spent a few hours in the evenings on MSN and Myspace, however, this was time limited (i.e. came to an abrupt end when your Mam made you get off the net at 10pm so that she could use the landline…SO UNFAIR!)

Nowadays, there is no escaping your phone and the constant interaction that it brings.

How did we get to a point whereby we get separation anxiety if we accidentally leave our phones at home?

Where we can’t sit in a restaurant whilst our mate goes to the toilet without getting our phone out to fill up every spare millisecond?

When everyone expects us to respond almost instantaneously to Whatsapp messages, especially if they see the blue ticks and they know you have read it?

When not being able to connect to Wi-Fi wherever we go make us a feel a bizarre mix of dread, fear and anger?

If I’m honest, the thing that bothers me the most is that I know my phone absolutely consumes me, and I know that I am often being extremely rude but I cannot seem to stop.

I know that I sit there when my mother is trying to have a conversation with me and continue to scroll through my newsfeed whilst mumbling “sorry…I am listening.”

I pull up outside my house after an hours drive after work sometimes and sit and scroll through Twitter in my car for 15 minutes before I get out!

I have potential Facebook statuses swimming in my head at all times and I can legitimately get excited to go places so that I can take a good Instagram picture.

Often, me and my friends will sit in a room together, in silence, all staring down at our phones.

It may not be intentional, but actually, what we are saying to one another by doing this is “I value my social interactions with the people over this phone more than your human interaction, right here, right now.”

Wow. How anti-social? What a disrespectful and dismissive way to treat the ones we love.

And what’s worse is that our generation has accepted this as normal social convention.

Terrifying.

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As a mechanism to deal with my anxious little brain, for a year now, I’ve being doing a lot of research and reading in to the practice of mindfulness and of gratitude; of being present and in the moment.

I’m sat in a hotel room in Manchester right now (ummm….can we discuss the fact that I seem to undertake all my life reflections in hotels? Stick me in one for 6 months and I reckon I could put the world to rights, LOL) and whilst mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed, it dawned on me that my phone and my social media addiction is a major barrier to mindfulness. I’ve also been reading a lot of the Turn Lights On digital detox offerings which has definitely given me food for thought.

Being on our phones all the time doesn’t allow us to switch off, for one. Constantly checking, planning and updating makes for an extremely busy mind.

The constant comparison with others; what fancy food they are eating tonight, what gorgeous holiday they are lucky to be on, what a big bunch of wonderful friends they have,  WHY ARE THEY HAVING SO MUCH MORE FUN THAN ME ON A THURSDAY EVENING, cannot be good for our sanity, am I right or am I right?

I personally love my phone because it makes me feel constantly connected, even when I am alone in a hotel room in Manchester.

However, doesn’t being on your phone all the time just rip you abruptly out of the present?

I do genuinely worry about the precious life moments I am missing because I’m thinking “oh that would be a great picture” whilst frantically trying to get out my phone,or texting someone about something funny or interesting or unusual that is happening rather than just soaking in.

I want to live in the moment instead of  constantly documenting it (Yes, I do appreciate the irony of blogging that very sentence but…you get my drift!!)

And so, I’ve decided to kick off a little experiment and see how my phone and use of social media, or should I say, lack thereof, affects my mood and my ability to be present and in the moment.

Now, I’m not going to go compleeeeetttteeeely cold turkey- that would be crazy *breaks out uncontrollably in to a cold sweat* . 

However, I want to strip my phone use back to basics. Essentially, I want to remove the dependancy and make it a functional and useful tool again.

Here are the rules:

  1. No phone in the bedroom at night time
  2. Phone can be checked for urgent messages first thing in the morning BUT not until after I’ve had a shower and my first cuppa…I don’t want it to be the first thing that I see or engage with
  3. My phone will be kept in my bag during the majority of work time except ….
  4. I can check my phone for urgent messages at lunchtime
  5. 1 hour of social media time/whatsapp time is allowed during the evening to check in with friends and family but strictly no longer
  6. My phone will be checked at 8pm for anything urgent and after that….no phone!

And repeat!

*Gulps* 

I am going to try this out for a week and report my results back to you.

And if anyone catches me breaking any of these rules, please feel free to grass me up!

Wish me luck!

Oh….and is this just me? Does anyone else feel the same? Has anyone tried to break free of their phone and social media before? Did it work? Any tips?

Get in touch friends.

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Musings: Anti-social Media- Part One

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