sad spiders

Leaving screens is harder than I thought

“My phone is my life”

I came across a post on Hacker News about feeling uncomfortable leaving your phone at home. There are good reasons to bring a cell phone with you when going about daily life, such as emergencies and not getting bored while using the lavatory. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you ever need to use it, or even ever have it breathe fresh air.

I was sitting at the kitchen table yesterday evening when a Blurt popped into my head and demanded to be written down. It said this:

My phone is my life.

Of course, if this were Blurt the whole thing would have been truncated to “My phone is my” and so that’s why Blurt is stupid sometimes.

But I sat there and stared at it for a minute or two. Pensively.

The Attention-whores are really good at it.

The last few days I’ve made an effort to not use my phone as much. Or any screens (with the caveat that my current occupation is listed as “web developer” or some such shit and so I need to use a computer for work). Let me re-phrase that to fit in with the cultural zeitgeist: I am trying to become more mindful of my interactions with digital medias.

And it’s harder than I thought.

It’s probably a combination of habit and whatever sordid psychology is used to keep people hooked, but it works. For the last few days, I’ve had this weird feeling of missing something. I want to say “not in a fear-of-missing-out way, but maybe that’s exactly what it is. It’s taking a fair amount of will-power and planning to stick to it.


I’ve also felt more productive, because it’s nice outside and I’m not just spending my time looking at pictures of pro mountain bikers on Instantgram or whatever the hell else I end up doing on that thing. Even just a few minutes here and there where I have my head up and in the real world have been nicer, somehow.

There’s no real end-game here. I just like judging people who are walking around on their phones with their faces buried in their screens like assholes. Despite the fact that I generally don’t walk around with my phone (like an asshole), I am no better than them. And I must be better than them.

The NEWS, oh man

The other thing that chewed through a lot of time and unnecessary mental energy is the news. I haven’t given up on the news completely, I have allowed myself to read Hacker News because it’s decently curated and only the bigger stories really ever filter through. Mostly it’s a bunch of nerdy headlines that I don’t actually understand, but when I say them at parties people nod along and look impressed. Oh and we watch Colbert’s monolog after dins regularly, so we get some real-hard-left news.

Reading the news daily was a huge waste, for me personally. I don’t care if anyone else wants to read the news, it’s a free country. But it was like Faishbook, once I stopped using it I really didn’t miss anything there. I’m not even an anti-media nutjob, there’s just about 95% of things that happen every day will not affect me. So why expend the intellectual energy to learn about them or whatever emotional or psychological energy to empathize or what-have-you.

Here’s what has happened since I quit reading the news:

There. You’re up-to-date. Call me cynical, you’re probably not far off.

It’s summer!

Which brings me to the whole purpose of all of this.

Computers were supposed to make life better and they incredibly, totally have. However, they weren’t supposed to simultaneously turn us into mindless numbnutses who argue about everything and have really strong opinions about whatever the topic-du-jour is. They were supposed to provide us with more leisure time.

So let’s ride some bikes, hike some trails, pet some dogs, eat some veggie burgers. Plant some trees, eat some veggies and hummus and ride some more bikes. And then let’s hang out and talk about it without worrying about pictures to show off how good things are. Let’s just enjoy things as they happen.

#coding #miscellany