Push Notifications Off

I engaged in a little personal action research the past month.  Some weeks back, I disabled all my social medial notifications–no pings from Facebook friends, Messenger senders, Twitter tweeters, or Instagram followers.  Not even likes or comments from WordPress and my beloved blogosphere here.  It was time to detox.  I needed an intervention. I’d become a touch too “SQUIRREL-Y!”  I worried my constant vigilance to likes, follows, comments, etc. was interfering with my here and now.  Here’s what happened:

Day 1

“Wow, Facebook is soooooo quiet today.  Weird.”  Along with my push notifications, I apparently disabled my short term memory.  Jaysus.  I used to be smart; you’ll just have to trust me that it’s true.

Day 2

Me, acting like it’s no thing, all “Look at my phone over there on the table while I’m sitting here in my chair reading a novel not even checking my phone.  What a morally superior person I must be not to be one of those people who can’t separate their phones from their hands without surgical intervention.”

Also me:  *unlocking my phone on the hour, opening up each social app, checking to see if anyone has reacted to anything I’ve written because, how could they not?? and no big deal if I check because I turned off notifications, but that doesn’t mean I’ve turned off being curious and engaging with my world in the ways we do in 2018*

Day 3

Unlocking my phone and opening up my social media apps only at prescribed times throughout the day is a solid plan, Wendy.  It’s what they tell you to do–slot a scheduled time with work emails, for example, in order to sustain productivity and lessen the negative impact of multi-tasking (which is bad now I guess upon further review).  OK, create and stick to a schedule.  Day 3 was easier than Day 2.  I feel like there’s a drug abuse/social media withdrawal analogy that can be drawn here, but I’ve never done a drug in all my life, and joking about rehab is not cool.  My point is I cleared the social media delirium tremens phase and dialed down that sniff of superiority.

One Week-Present

At the one-week mark, I noticed that I noticed less, attended less to what types of feedback I got.  Mind you, I didn’t stop participating in social media, just ceased the hunt for its continued, constant feedback.

Some friends, I feared, would believe that my inconsistency or unresponsiveness was a direct reflection on them, or that I was being a “bad friend.”  Because apparently, though I’ve lost my short-term memory, I make up for it in spades with middle school-level egocentrism.  If I didn’t respond to comments made by friends and followers, who took the time to comment after all,  I felt a little like maybe others thought I was being non-reciprocal.  After all, social media is about give and take.


Over time, you come to miss less what you don’t have.  Sorta.  But you do miss a TON OF FUN when your favorite band commences its summer tour, and you’re not up-to-date 24/7.  So I turned on Twitter notifications again, but only from Barenaked Ladies, ’cause, you know, hall of fame musicians care deeply about my degree of fandom.  Seriously, why isn’t there a font that reads to you in my tone of voice and can roll its eyes when I do?  Can someone get crackin’ on that?  Please?

I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.  But I can’t do it cold turkey, and especially not during The Last Summer on Earth!

Updates on my son’s school talent show performance were delayed.  I was late to the party getting information about MDA Camp.  You guys, my son goes to his third Muscular Dystrophy Association camp this week!  But not before he graduates from middle school, which occurs Thursday, and about which I am immensely proud and wholly unprepared.  Well, I did order a cake for the after-ceremony celebration, so, go, me!  See?  Look what I can accomplish when the siren song of phone notifications is lulled!

I’m probably supposed to burst with epiphany and joy that I’ve extended my phone’s battery life while decreasing my ties to immediacy.  That would be only partly true though, and I pretty much never lie.  But I didn’t die without those instant ties to the internet, so there’s that.  I believe it’s accurate to say I was a smidgen in the moment-er.  It’s a start.  But with less than three weeks until I see my favorite band again, how can I possibly avoid it?

12 thoughts on “Push Notifications Off

  1. That whole reciprocal thing–I totally get it. Sometimes I get so busy at work, or the weekend is nuts, and I just don’t have time to go through my Reader and engage with my social universe. Then I feel so guilty, like I’m the “bad friend”. Congrats to your boy on his graduation–tell him to eat lots of cake!

    Liked by 2 people

    • See? Like it’s taken me almost a week to respond. *facepalm* I know you know what I mean, though you are a much more highly disciplined writer/human than I am. Thanks for the congratulatory wishes–many tears were shed, and not all of them were mine. I believe the boy fully understands the term bittersweet at last.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember Tristan’s last day of Grade 8–he came home. went into his room and was really upset that he might never see some of his classmates again (he was going to a different high school for an International Baccalaureate program). It was tough to see him like that.


      • There were some tearful good-byes after the after-completion field trip sleepover party (three big events crammed into about 28 hours!). The kids were exhausted, which I’m sure created some heightened emotions for them all. My kid’s going to an IB high school too! Good bye, eighth grade, hello homework!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was back home at Christmas, we’d all be sitting around the living room, chatting and laughing, and I kid you not when I say that every person there under the age of twenty sat in a nearby chair with their nose in a smartphone the entire time. They didn’t look up; they didn’t participate; they simply lived in their own digital worlds.

    And that kind of behavior isn’t limited to young people. I have friends — my age — who have little iPhone stands, and when I meet them for dinner at a restaurant, they prop the phone up on the table so they can monitor, in real time, all their pings and status updates. Do you have any idea how obnoxious it is to try to conduct an adult conversation with someone who won’t take his eyes of his goddamn phone?

    I read a book a few years ago that absolutely changed my worldview. It’s called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff (if the name sounds familiar, it’s because I mention him quite often on my own blog). It’s all about how we now live in a constant state of “presentism” — that our digital devices (and social-media outlets) are ever and always reminding us that what’s happening to us here isn’t nearly as important/interesting/urgent as what’s happening elsewhere. I can’t more highly recommend this book, Wendy.

    That said, I applaud anyone who endeavors to take control of their reliance on digital technology. Sure, we might miss the occasional concert update, but, that notwithstanding, how much happier are all these digital “conveniences” really making us?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did a work presentation several years ago, wherein I referenced being at a concert, and observing concertgoers shooting video of the entire show. I was stunned that everyone seemed more interested in “keeping” what was happening instead of being part of it in the moment. That was about five years ago, and I’ve become that very thing–well, closer to it anyway. Now I’m trying to find a better balance. Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ll add it to my Goodreads list–as of tomorrow, I will have a little more time to read what I want instead of only what I have to. Give it up for 5 weeks of summer break!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If notifications were visual, I’d probably have to turn them off, or banish their origins forever. This is because I’m highly visual. Auditory notifications don’t bother me too much, if at all, because they are motionless. My beloved Mother would always tell me she thought I was “afraid” I would miss something if I didn’t tune into what was going on around me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I can tune out much of the many distracting elements of life; specifically online life. Much of it doesn’t interest me, especially if I’m in the company of someone I’d rather tune into instead. It’ll be there anyway just waiting, which is the wonderful thing about the online universe. It’ll never go away, because you don’t care to engage with it now. Human connection on the other hand will.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You can come visit me in backwoods Virginia! Technology is a sporadic visitor to our farm — no cell phone service, internet is a spotty, slow, limited satellite connection (no service when it rains, snows, or heavy clouds pass by), the only streaming we get is from the nearby creek which occasionally runs high. Occasionally the winds shift just so and my phone will beep with a rare text message that actually got through — my excitement is of the “Come here Watson, I need you!” variety. Initially people felt sorry for me being so cut off … now they think I’m lucky. The correct response is somewhere in between.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Super-bad, and not in a good way, Ladies’ Lady here. I’m so out of the loop I don’t know if I can get back in again. I’m almost exactly 2 months late on this blog. I very rarely get notifications on anything and I’m heavy into audiobooks and hanging out with friends and family nearby. I’m wasting time on a wood-block puzzle game that puts me into a Zen state, so I’m not on Social Media much at all. I miss it, but I do feel more connected to Vince and my nearby friends. It’s tough because I truly enjoy the company of my online community as well. Balance would be nice. Maybe I should cut the wood block puzzle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balance can and should be sought across our lives, and bursts of new/different/less stress-inducing activities and/or time away are a way to find balance. I turned off notifications for awhile, as you read, and I was OK with the results. However it is you seek and find balance is the “what works” for you; there’s no formula. Plus, you’re a Ladies’ Lady for life, friend, THAT doesn’t get revoked!! When you seek more social media interaction, it’ll be because you need and want it in order to find balance again. Picture a pendulum, constant motion, right? xoxo


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