I’ve noticed that recently, having reduced my social media time – specifically facebook – I am a lot more productive, happier and focused than before. Add to that my obsession with wellbeing, I’ve connected to my surroundings more by progressively disconnecting from the digital world. Helloooooo World! That’s a mighty fine caboose you have there~ Paying attention to the ground, to a tree, to my footsteps on the path, to the smell after the rain. It’s really calming, and it makes me feel happy. No, I’m not naked, smelling of patchouli, why do you ask?
We spend so much time on our socials, phone in hand, scrolling, open-mouthed, drooling like zombies, and I’m over it. It’s truly a factor in these 21st Century Blues, no? I decided to follow a few suggestions from some high flying business types, some psychology types, and a few naked hippies. This is not a new concept. A concept, which by the way is backed by experts, science and data galore, and is proven to increase your happiness and peace of mind, reduce stress and help alleviate symptoms of depression, low self-esteem and anxiety. What is it?
Put down your phone. For an hour. Two hours. A whole day?? Woah, Nelly.
Date the world. All day, every day. Date the world around you and colors look brighter! Take literally just a day to switch off your phone and really open your eyes to whats in your ‘hood and you’ll spend your days frolicking like a frickin’ deer in a meadow. Sure thing, boss. But seriously, being glued to your screen is a one way ticket to Bbblleeeeehhh-ville.
We’re creatures of habit, and our 21st Century habit is our phone. I’m guilty of it, and I’m not saying give up your technology. I’m not a monster. What I am saying, is that the relationship we have with our phone can become pretty toxic if we’re not mindful of how we interact, so like you would a toxic person, give yourself a break!
Ditch it for a night to spend some time with the world around you. Get rid of the apps on the front screen of your phone. Hell, delete them altogether. Don’t spend every waking hour you have locked in a game of keyboard footsy while the ACTUAL world is waiting for you to enjoy.
Tis funny eh, the value and the importance we place on our phones – and social media especially – it can really mess up our ability to interact in the real world. It opens up the world to us while simultaneously removing our need, desire and ability to get out there and explore. Our phone has our attention, and thats cool. Business, contacts, stocks, shares, investment and the rest. It’s a tool we need.
But it is also our enabler of doom. It’s our crutch. It’s our therapist. It’s our yes men and our backup. Our way to vent, to get buzzed on other people’s gossip and bad news, our laughter, goat videos, our connection and disconnection. And it has us in a death grip.
Has this happened to you? You get mildly inconvenient news, or someone speaks to you in a less than polite, kinda crappy way, or you end up on the bus next to someone popping and snapping their gum like a frrrrrickin maniac. (This is my particular brain melter). You know, you want to move but you’re SO angry that you sit in a rage, fizzing like a snake in hot oil.
And then, something flips and you actually start to enjoy the feeling of supreme anger, increased heart rate, sweaty butt crack, you suddenly realize you’re clenching your teeth. We’re feeding on the rage like Robert Carlyle circa 28 Weeks Later. You know that way, totally mental but loving it. We enjoy that rush, right? Of course, it’s not our fault. The brain enjoys being involved in stuff, in stimulation, whether negative or positive. So we dance the dance of utter disgust in our head and hearts until the injustice of it all takes us in a head lock, punching us right square in the throat, over and over again. The desire to rage on bubbles and bubbles and you get madder and madder, judging this gum popper as THE WORST HUMAN IN THE EXISTENCE OF EVER!!!
And then what do we do…? Do we calmly stand up and move away from the situation? Do we take a couple of deep breaths and just move on with our lives? Put our headphones in and listen to Troye Sivan on YouTube? Nope. You gotta be kidding. …oh whats this…update status? Don’t mind if I do…
Actually, this gum clicker D-bag situation, it’s none of our business. Sure, it sucks, but thats life. We could just move we could just let it go, but we don’t want to. We want to wallow in that feeling of anger, that feeling of ‘who DOES that UGH!!’ Overcome with an air of entitlement, a strange feeling of satisfaction for being riled up about gum-gate, we want to tell someone. Because really, deep down, we know that we’re overreacting. The inner tornado fire wants to break loose but we know that if we actually said or did anything in the real world, WE would look like a D-bag. And I ain’t no D-bag mister, no sir.
The inner voice takes over: I need to get it out there, I need to tell the world about this MONSTER that I’m sat next to, about how unjust this whorish world is, that someone pops and clicks their gum RIGHT next to ME!!!
Facebook answers the call.
What’s on your mind, Fred?
Ohhhhh, sh*t. You move fast, friction burns blistering the thumbs as you batter the screen:
“Sat next to the actual worst F***** eater in the world. Popping and chewing her f***** gum right in my ear. Ugh, what is f***** WRONG with peeople”
You’re so riled up you don’t even CARE about typos.
We share. That’s cool. We always tell kids ‘sharing is nice, sharing is fun’ and here we are full on practicing what we preach. Sweet. We tell our select audience about this horrifying experience, and we wait. We wait a bit longer.
Nobody clicks like. No likes, no comments. Three full minutes have passed, and we sit and refresh the screen, now completely oblivious to the gum clicker, because we’re waiting…wishing for someone, ANYONE to reply and affirm that this is the single most despicable act that a fellow public transport user could commit…
You start to feel anxious, nobody has responded. You consider taking the post down, maybe you’re overreacting, maybe you shouldn’t have posted all those F bombs, maybe facebook is broken…I’ll take it down…Let me just…and before you can hit ‘delete’ you see the little red notification button pop up:
5 new notifications.
Praise the Universe, the Good Lord and Buddha his holy self.
Bob, Jim, Sam, Roy and Beatrice. Roy liked your comment. You feel a wave of relief and satisfaction. Sam reacted to your comment…come on Sam what did you…LOVE!! YES! Sam loved your comment! You called out to your tribe and they responded, and they like you! They really like you!!
Bob comments: “Dude, those people are the actual worst. Scum of the earth. Feel for you bro.” You think to yourself, “Woah, Bob, thats a bit harsh” but nevertheless Bob agrees with you, backs you up, and now it’s not you standing out there alone. Bob has your back, and perhaps an anger issue. Maybe don’t invite Bob round for drinks.
Then more notifications, more likes, more affirming comments and loves and ‘HAHA’ emojis. You feel gratified, important, you feel recognized and actually you don’t feel anything about the gum clicker because you’ve managed to frazzle your brain with all those positive reinforcements and now you feel GREAT! You can take on the world! Dopamine is AWESOME!!!!!! FREEDOOMMMM!!!
You might even consider sitting next to a gum chewer again just so you can rant and rave tomorrow about how these gum clickers ALWAYS happen to you despite your constant struggle to emit nothing but good vibes into the world. So unfair. So unjust.
And then suddenly, whats this?
Ken comments: Just move on.
Your stomach drops. You run through your brain, you think of all the times Ken had your back during university, and how you had his back, too. You like Ken, he’s a stand up guy, really great guitar player, made a bunch of money on bitcoin and bought you guys stellar baseball seats but then lost it again. These things happen, Ken, you’ll get through this.
You guys founded a crappy band together when you were 22. It sucked but you met girls, and you did that together. Your lives had meaning, man. You’ve grown apart since he met Cara and that’s cool, I mean, we’ve all gotta move on sometime. But here he is, calling you out. Challenging your statement. Does he hate you? Maybe you pissed him off? You run back through your mind, trying to make sense of his comment. “Just Move On.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?
Trying to understand why, WHY Ken would betray you like that. You type a response…then delete.
Too rude. You type again…delete again.
What does it mean??
Ken, I don’t know who you are anymore. We used to be tight, but now…
You go to Ken’s profile, click on his profile picture. It’s a shot of him and his daughter on the beach, there’s ice-cream on both their faces and they’re smiling, looking really, really happy. He looks so smug, like he’s laughing at you now, ‘oh look at me, I’m Ken, I have a happy family and we eat ice cream on the beach, la dee daa.’ You think of other comments he’s made on other profiles…has he always been this much of a douche? You thought you were an excellent judge of character. Sometimes, good people are just wrong.
That’s it, you’ve had enough. It’s time to delete that traitor, you’re FIRED Ken. You click on unfriend, but Facebook has you pegged. ‘Do you want to take a break from Ken for a while?’
Facebook; the social media site that collects all your data, keeps you (dis)connected (from) to the world, and talks you down when you’re irate with Ken and his moronic ice-cream-covered face and about to do something you’ll definitely regret later.
Like unfriending Ken.
But you’re not unreasonable, in fact you pride yourself on your approachable nature and emotional intelligence test score – LinkedIn is reputable – so you agree with FB and decide that perhaps taking a break is the best way. After all, all those other likes and comments backed you up, so maybe Ken is just having a bad day, maybe he needs a holiday, he’s got kids so thats probably a lot to deal with.
Yeah, Ken is having a hard time, that’s why he lashed out at you. But still, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life, so you hit ‘take a break’.
And so that’s it. Maybe you and Ken will never be the same again, maybe you’ll see him at poker and he won’t mention anything. Maybe…
You look up from your screen, and realize you missed your stop.
Why is it ALWAYS ME?? You click on the little blue square on your phone.
What’s on your mind, Fred?
And so the cycle continues.
Of course, this would never happen to anyone we know, right? Obviously…
But it does happen. We get so caught up in nonsense that means nothing, we give ourselves over to arguments and feuds. We waste our lives scrolling, waiting for likes, waiting for approval from facebook, insta, snapchat (I dunno, is that the same kinda deal? I don’t use it. I heard there were too many naughty pics) and yet, the world around us is simply passing us by all the while. And by the way, if you haven’t looked outside in a while it’s pretty frickin’ cool. Lots of colors and shapes and smells. Lots of smells.
Sure, I’m not saying we should all give up social media, and certainly not saying give up our phones. But I am saying…maybe try not to be like Fred. Don’t be a dick(ted to social media). Don’t miss out on the world around you! Try not to miss your stop.
And listen to Ken
Just move on.