Yep, this blog has been quiet. Nope, I haven’t responded to comments on my previous post. And I haven’t really posted on instagram because I simply haven’t stopped to take the photos.
And I’m not sorry.
I’ve been enjoying the new found time I have currently, having not yet found paid employment, not having an essay to do or a class to go to. These last couple of weeks have found me doing something or meeting someone pretty much every day and I wonder how I ever managed to do life while working – never mind doing university and Girlguiding too! And it makes me wonder how present I’ve been to my friends and family as I’ve juggled a crazy diary over the last year.
The girls in Senior Section have heard about this basket, pictured above, which sits in the hallway outside my friends’ living room. It’s a basket for phones. They don’t make their friends put them in, it’s more of a hint of encouragement and something we’ve talked about a lot. For years I refused to get a smartphone. People were always very shocked I didn’t own one, given that I use social media a lot (I am one of those people that tweets about what she’s having for lunch) and that I do like ‘gadgets’. Part of the reason was that smartphones are expensive. My trusty Nokia was pretty much unbreakable, sent texts and made calls just fine. It was cheap to run, I never ran the risk of cranking up bills I couldn’t afford because I did ‘pay as you go’.
But there was another reason. I was getting increasingly fed up of making time in an already crazy schedule to meet with my friends and them spending most of the time checking facebook, texting other friends or family or looking up things online. I would sit at the table and think “Why did I bother coming out?“
Last summer, I caved and I got my smartphone known as ‘Phoebe’. I didn’t have a car anymore so wasn’t so concerned having a contract phone, plus my camera wasn’t working properly anymore and it was a great way of keeping in touch with family abroad thanks to FaceTime and What’s App. But I quickly realised that I was becoming the person that irritated me. It was way too easy to constantly check my phone.
My first step was to make sure that I didn’t get ‘alerts’ to everything. For a few weeks I had a beep to e-mails coming through, and I felt my blood pressure rising and my commutes becoming interrupted by beeps and dings. Two e-mail accounts, What’s App, Facebook messenger, Twitter, Texts, Calls.
It was ridiculous.
Now it’s just texts and what’s app that make a noise on my phone. I’ll check my e-mails when I have the headspace to process them properly.
There’s also just that whole thing of putting your phone away. Over the last two days I have met up with old friends I haven’t seen in months and not a single picture for twitter/instagram/facebook was taken. I just wanted to enjoy being in their company and it was actually a wonderful thing that for the most part none of my friends had their phones in their hands either. Yep, there are times we all get our phones out to capture a moment, and I don’t mind that, but I also like it when phones stay in pockets or bags. There’s something of value when you are fully present in communicating with the people in front of you and not making them feel like you’d rather be anywhere else but here with them.
I do like having Phoebe – it’s been fun to capture moments by snapping a photo so your friends can see something rather than you trying to describe it. I love the memories it stores for me. I have fun making a reflective ‘flipagram’ at the end of every month. And it’s been helpful to search for directions or that thing you can’t quite remember !
But I would urge us all (myself included) to create etiquette for this 21st century phenomenon so that the thing that was invented to aid communication between humans doesn’t end up doing the opposite – becoming a hindrance to our ability to communicate.