34/100 — The digital detox: 5 days in

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Today is the 5th day since I deleted most apps off my phone and installed my technology rules for the month of May.

So far, I’ve mostly adhered to my rule of no screens between 9pm and 7am, except for yesterday, when I was home late and had to finish a blog post (and Friday, because Moneyball is a long movie you guys). I enjoy going to sleep without looking at my phone, and would like to keep away from it in the morning, too, so maybe I need to get a separate alarm clock after all.

Because the ‘twitch’ is alive and well: that desire to pick up my phone and check it. There aren’t many apps left on it, but my lizard brain doesn’t care – especially when I’m stressed or feel awkward, my phone just appears in my hand, like magic.

Stress in general is a big factor. On Thursday, during one of many phone calls that required me to listen and provide emotional support rather than do anything, I blinked and suddenly realised that I was on Twitter. It seems that I check social media in order to briefly lighten a mental load, a habit that happens without me even being conscious of it.

Speaking of mental loads: I’ve never noticed how sluggish my mind has become in recent years.
Yesterday, on Saturday, I was out running errands all morning. I came back around one, and knew I had to get going again around five.

Reader, I watched Netflix for four hours.
Not only did I waste two of them on a movie that wasn’t worth finishing; I then moved on to watching Dark Tourist, which to me is one of the ultimate ‘killing time’ shows. (As much as I like Kiwi Louis Ther—I mean, David Farrier and the brilliant faces he makes when he watches someone suck blood out of another person’s finger, it’s not exactly what I’d call an improving show.)

Oh, I killed that time. I killed those four hours dead.

I could’ve read a lot of my current book in that time. I could’ve gone back to writing in my diary, or taking notes on that story I want to get back to. I could’ve listened to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I could’ve made that experimental rhubarb crumble I made today instead. All of these things I know I would’ve enjoyed, but to my mind used to the cushy nothingness of numb consumption, all of it seemed like work.

It’s a bit of a shock to realise that your mind has gotten into the habit of working at reduced capacity for much of the day. I tend to roll my eyes at people who say that smartphones turn people into ‘zombies’, but when you have to talk yourself into an activity that requires active thinking, it makes you wonder.

Today, I came home after my Sunday run and, because I’d been up for a long time already, lay on the couch with a blanket and watched two episodes of Dark Tourist. Deliberately. I can’t tell you how much I miss Instagram. But I’ve made that rhubarb crumble, and it’s delicious.

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