I miss life without cellphones.
I used to read a lot more before I could fit the Internet in my pocket. Hell, I planned to finish Childhood’s End yesterday and write a review today, but here I am, not even halfway through the book because every time I’d sit down to read, my phone would appear in my hand, tempting me to read something else.
I don’t play games. I think Facebook is boring. But a link on twitter is like a baited hook.
It’s so mindless, this consumption of information. Whether it’s an Atlantic piece about education trends, or a New Yorker profile, or the Washington Post on yet another article citing Donald Trump’s lunacy; it doesn’t matter that it’s ostensibly well written news, it’s the fact that it competes for every free moment of my life that bothers me. Longform articles are like crack. I could spend hours reading on the Internet.
And you know what goes hand in hand with this mindless reading? Mindless eating. One of my favorite things to do is pop some popcorn or make myself some toast, and then sit, eating without tasting anything, while I read and read and read on the internet. It’s not healthy to eat that way. It soothes the mind, but then my jeans don’t fit so well.
The phone has been affecting my writing too. Each morning, I get up at 4:30, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sit down to write, but again, the damn phone appears. I tell myself I need the time to wake up, and it seems so innocent, after all I’m only reading the news. But before I know it, it’s 5:30 and I’ve lost a precious hour I could have spent writing, or even sleeping.
I want the constant distraction to go away. You know how everyone’s canceling their cable? When we moved out to the country, my husband and I went a step further by canceling our Internet too (or my accurately, we just never bothered to turn it on). We both felt happier without it. All the mindless web surfing on our laptops ended. There was no more Netflix to binge watch. We read more and got further along in our projects.
But we can’t cancel our cellphones. We don’t want to be that isolated. And now it’s not even necessary to have a landline connection to the Internet. A smartphone is perfectly capable of doing just about everything you would otherwise do on a computer. So the distraction has crept right back into our lives.
I’ve started leaving my phone in random places around the house, just to make sure I can’t whip it out of my pocket at moment’s notice to distract me from whenever my brain has to really focus and think about my present task. I’d say I only have a fifty percent success rate though, as half the time, I wind up stopping whatever I’m doing just to find that stupid phone.
I’m about ready to throw it at the wall. Whatever minor convenience it is to look up a faster route home or find a decent restaurant in a new neighborhood could not possibly be worth the Soma-like effects of the Internet.
It makes me wonder what’s really bothering me? What part of my life is so upsetting that it’s preferable to blank out on the addictive combination of food and the Internet?
If I’m being honest, it’s two things: my project at work and my long commute. I’m taking steps to fix those problems, so it’ll be interesting to see how my Internet habits change after I switch jobs this summer. However, I suspect that although those problems will be fixed, there will just be another issue that makes me want to escape inside me phone. We’ll see.
Do you struggle with the Internet? It’s such double-edged sword. On the one hand, I couldn’t expand my editing business without it. On the other, it’s ruining my creativity. Very tricky.