This is the fourth post in a week-long web series that documents Preethi’s day-to-day experiences while forgoing a relationship with her cellphone. Check back daily for the next article.
Sunday was unpleasant. I had a lot of things to get done, but procrastination reigned supreme. My left leg hung loosely off the side of my bed as I stared at my ceiling with no intention of moving for the next three hours. I immediately knew that my fourth day was going to pass very slowly.
I shouldn’t be mentioning this, but there were multiple times when I grabbed my phone and thought I could peep on my social media for a quick two minutes. My brain’s reasoning: “I went three days without touching my phone. . .” Obviously, my brain isn’t to be trusted. I looked through emails on my computer, tackled my weekly chores, and headed to the library on campus. I just needed something — anything — to do.
What does this kind of behaviour imply? We are social creatures, and we think social media fills the void. We continue to indulge because it forms a convincing mirage of meaningful relationships. This becomes clearer to me the more I reach for the phone I can’t use.
By commenting on uploaded pictures or other such activities, we conceive a connection with people that are not immediately around us. The word “connect” has become meaningless in our lives, pushed to its usage limit. I can’t even decide what “connect” even means anymore. But I can say, with certainty now, that convenient connections aren’t connections at all. To be in the proximity of a person and having to look at them while you converse — now, that’s something we should strive for.
Being at a “lit party” is only lit if you are conscious of the people around you. Using Snapchat to take pictures and holding up alcoholic drinks are some of the most iconic and celebrated pictures that I often notice on my Instagram feed — what do these images portray? The mirage continues.
Some part of me wishes I could see what my friends are up to; convenient access to my friends was just what I had gotten used to. I hadn’t talked to my parents abroad, and I wished I could call them. I saw a beautiful black car parked up against a blue sky backdrop, and wanted to take a picture of it. Besides these usual urges, I’m slowly getting used to not having my phone on me.
These thoughts come to me as I reflect on day four. Without having to reflect, such perspective would have probably ceased to exist forever in me. My productivity continues to be off the charts because my phone hasn’t been distracting me. With my newfound liberation and productivity, though, does come a fear of missing out, a sense that I’m losing touch, and crippling boredom.
The trade-off is high, but is it worth it? I don’t think I can answer that yet.