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:
“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.
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*
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.
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?
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?