My Social Dilemma

“I am addicted to my phone- so will not be checking my phone all day tomorrow-. Anyone has any work please call me- or email.” 

7.45 am

As I came home from my run, even before I showered (I was dripping with sweat!!) I saw 3 notifications from Sukhpreet (I was supposed to meet her at 10am today) so how could I not check my phone? Good thing that I did, as she was under the weather and wanted to cancel our meeting. Satisfied (I did not see it as a transgression), I smiled a smug smile. 

8.30 am

Post shower and all, I heard some more notifications and my craving got the better of me (let me just see who is texting me) and sure enough – as I scrolled through the home screen- I saw that they were texts from a few of my runner friends (chattering on about the run that morning- weather and the like).  Of course, nothing momentous! (what was I expecting?) Putting my phone down, I wore my watch. After all, how would I know what time of day it was, considering the sky today is just colourless- no sun- no clouds- nothing to indicate the passage of time- just a plain drab grey like my day without my phone. What was this obsession with time? It was a Sunday- and I had no plans- and I could do just what I wanted to do- when I wanted to do it! (yes yes, time is a social construct

9.30 am

I kept myself busy completing my chores but the nagging feeling to check my phone persisted. I will only check notifications I bargained with myself, but I resisted. As time passed the anxiety reduced. I had everything that I needed on my computer- my reading, writing, music and the dictionary. So I did not really need my phone at all! (drumroll!) Keeping the phone 10-feet away from me certainly helped.

10 am

As I brewed my coffee I saw a notification from a friend, who for most part sends me important texts- but sometimes he sends some random forwards too. Giving into my temptation (I will only check his- and no one else’s), I found that it was a random image… to the effect of “you are awesome friend” (eyeroll!!)

10.30 am

(Only 2.30 hours had passed and I had already checked my phone twice)

After I read the papers I decided to check my email(no push notifications) for my usual Sunday newsletters. Russa had emailed me a great article from the Guardian (This really made my day) and I replied to him, sharing a baroque music playlist from NYT (not great). This is what we do on weekends- exchange articles and editorials that we have enjoyed or been intrigued by. Sometimes he would text me- but today I realise that I prefer email- so that I can read it when I choseto read it. 

I am in control of who I am interacting with and when.

12 noon

The day was progressing well and although I was relaxed the urge to check my phone came in a flash.  As I hovered around the phone- I stared the dark, black mysterious screen.

Holding out I enjoyed this new-found peace and it took me back to an easier time – not so-long-ago (to a pre Instagram and Whatsapp era)- when I would not even know where my phone was on an easy rambly Sunday.

12.30 pm

After a phone call (phone calls are allowed) I saw 3 notifications from Sukhpreet. My mind started whirring (I had not told her about my 12-hour phone detox plan- my bad) and a moral conundrum presented itself. One half, of course, I should not check her messages-what will happen if I don’t reply to my friend-from 30-years? She will call me if there is anything important! Another half- what difference will it make if I check only hers- I promise I won’t check anybody else’s! What if she wants to meet me (and today is our only opportunity being a Sunday- as we are super busy like prime ministers of our countries on other days!!) Caving in I check (gasp!!) and it was nothing…just a rant!

I learn that nothing is happening in my friends’ lives today. (What happens on other days)?

1 pm

A fleeting thought… this is a good feeling- to have a distraction free day. How can I implement this during the week? Maybe set timings- and inform my friends and family- that I will not be checking my phone after 4 pm…so they should call me? Hmmmmm…. Let’s see!

2 pm
A text from Arnav- to check or not to check? (kids are all-important) He was just responding to some old messages and 5 minutes later he returned home after a game of basketball. And we could have simply talked about it.

Nothing is earth shattering is happening- even with my kids.

My computer froze. As did I. And I lost this very document. When a Macbook freezes it doesn’t autosave a “new document. (I learnt that at 2.02 pm today) Yes, I was stupid enough to not save it since morning! So I spent a lot of time trying to recover it- but nothing could be done. Having resigned to the fact that this post was irretrievable and I had to retype it (if I wanted to chronicle this historic day) I still wanted to share my frustration and text a coupel of friends (to whine, obviously). What a waste of time!!! Aaarrghhhh. But I curbed my feelings, rationalised to myself and forged on. Onward and Upward. (Phone hours: 10 am- 4pm and 7-7.30 pm Monday-Friday is becoming a real possibility! Like my work hours)

3 pm

I set up my painting project and was lovely. Music. Art. And let me just put it out there- on a “normal” day I would have checked my Instagram a few times, Garmin Connect, Strava, Facebook, along with spending (wasting?) considerable time on Whatsapp and keeping my eyes on the silly NDTV notifications (even after spending an hour reading the papers)!

I am addicted to my phone.

3.30 pm

More pings. This curiosity was killing me- as I tried to imagine who could be saying what to me. Yanking my mind away from disturbance I focus on my painting. If it is something important- they will call. Else it’s a forward, images or videos. (Ignore) Should I put my phone on silent? Then how will I get phone calls? Maybe mute whatsapp- Hmmm (can that be done?) 

Breathe, breathe.

5pm

So ok. I cracked. And checked Whatsapp. One regarding an important zoom call at 8 pm tonight (which became a google meet and they had asked for my email ID since 2 pm) and another friend’s (as I was curious). I replied to him- only to get chided by him (but why would you text me when you know I am not going to respond??) But now back. 

Wondering. 

What should be the rules? 

A blanket cutoff- or a 5-minute respite every couple of hours? 

(yes, this is a stream of consciousness)

6.15 pm

I have been distracted- it’s not like I have painted continuously for the last 3-4 hours. A couple of phone calls, walking around- snacking, browsed some random stuff, got the kids’ room cleaned etc etc. But I haven’t checked my phone for anything.  That for me, is the biggest gain for today. Over time I hope to be able to concentrate and do only one thing for a couple of hours at least without distraction.

7.30 pm

What this no-phone did do…it made me mind my own business. I don’t know what anyone else is doing, has done today or will do tomorrow. Maybe that’s a good thing. And I must say- that I do feel much calmer- instead of my head skittering around like a headless chicken. 

This definitely is a direction I want to head in. Lets see how I change my behaviour and how this change changes me.

8 pm

Technically the 12- hour deadline is over. But I have no inclination to check all my messages. Lets see…. 🙂


“I am addicted to my phone- so will not be checking my phone all day tomorrow-. Anyone has any work please all me- or email.” 

This was the text I sent to the 4-5 people in my inner circle last night (Saturday) at 7 pm. Rima and Aparna laughed at me. Russa confirmed our plan to run on Monday morning. Sanjana was supportive. Arnav didn’t even register that I am doing this. Well. Whatever.

This text was prompted by the way I spent my Saturday. I didn’t do much. I kept checking my phone (Instagram and Whatsapp) scrolling through people’s feeds (I mean- who cares!!)

I am trying to get my Life back.

Filtering is a SuperPower.

The people you don’t hang around. The opportunities you don’t accept. The distractions you don’t allow. The relationships you don’t have. The news you don’t read. The content you don’t consume. The calls you don’t return. The emails you don’t answer.

Saying NO turns filtering into action.

Comments

comments

4 thoughts on “My Social Dilemma

  • You’re not alone in this. I’ve silenced all the notifications on my phone, put up ScreenTime on my phone lock screen to remind me how much I am using the phone, I actively try to disengage from my phone.
    Am I successful? Not at all. The max I go without checking phone is an hour. But I’m getting more mindful of this. After all, accepting that you’ve addiction is the first step to the journey. Right?

    Great post, as always!

    • Thank you Rishi- heartening to hear this. Will do the same with my ScreenTime AND turn off the notifications. The world can manage without me! Yes, acceptance – and it hit me hard!!

  • Proud of you Parul. Next time make it easier on yourself and switch off notifications from WhatsApp.

    And I love this piece. It brings out all the angst you felt beautifully. I’m not sure you had a calmer day not looking at your phone. But it will get better every Sunday 😉

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