Define Digital Addict
When the idea of a technology detox challenged our ability to fend for ourselves, it terrified our Tuesday morning Digital Writing class. There was an air of silence, but our calculating minds had been troubled, and slightly confused, with the absurd question. The thought of what we could possibly miss within a 24-hour period was slightly horrifying. Would Kylie Jenner post another teasing Instagram post of her new baby girl that society has convinced us we care about? Or most importantly, what if I miss out on a hot spicy topic in our increasingly hushed group chat? Forgetting about the fact that with the lack of conversation in it lately it really should be something less concerned about. But some juicy gossip is bound to implode during my disconnection, right!? With all these disturbing thoughts, I asked myself if I should participate in this digital detoxification that my professor perplexed us with. A detoxification that is, for a 24-hour period. The word detoxification may be slightly dramatic. But, the answer was yes. Yes, I really should do this. But, could you? Well, that’s a completely different question, and the answer was probably not. What if I had a question about my paleo-based, or plant-based (depending on the mood) New Year’s Resolution diet that is currently still holding on by a lousy thread? Googling if Oreos are really vegan? If ketchup is gluten-free? Wait.. IS BUTTER A CARB!? Real life stuff, you know. The stuff that when you ask someone a question and their response is, that’s what Google is for. We don’t like those kind of people (currently throwing distant side-eye evils to my boyfriend). Oh, and not being able to use Spotify means no gym session, no running, or really anything that poses breaking a sweat. Rest days became all to frequent during the month of dreary January, so that one can slide.
Our professor was smart though. As millennials (I know everyone hates that word, but…) living in New York City and not exactly like the students on those huge university campuses, she knew most of us had a pretty hectic schedule. A LOT of college work, demanding internships and exhausting jobs, it really wouldn’t be possible for many. Without our iPhone alarms kicking us out of bed every morning, getting shit done just wasn’t going to happen. Living in New York City if you aren’t stressed 90% of your day, or busy running around then honestly, do you even New York? So, she gave us the option of taking the complete abstinence route as one option. This is where you would, for a 24-hour period, eliminate all technology, meaning no social media, assignments requiring wifi, Netflix, ordering yet another beret on Asos, iPhone alarms, internet in general, etc. You get the picture. I know everything I listed falls under the technology umbrella but sometimes writing things out will force you understand the absurdity of such a day. Or as the second option, my intelligent professor suggested that our task will be to critically analyze the ways you are dependent upon technology, knowing right well she’d receive two dozen five page reports back of complete lies of how the day progressed playing board games with our grandmothers. Despite this semester being the one where I’m not working or interning, in other words not completely abusing my mental capacity for everyday life, shit still needed to be done. So, with all these dubious questions consuming my thoughts on this chilling experience, I decided cutting the cord was not for me. Option two seemed more feasible, let’s go with that. I don’t spend much precious time on social media, anyway. Or you know, that’s what I thought.
I had known certain mannerisms of mine for a while now. How procrastination is my forte, YouTube is my doctor, Instagram is my inspiration and Pinterest defines the domestic goddess that I am. As someone in a long-distance relationship, Facebook Messenger has always been the first app I open as I reluctantly wake each morning with one sleepy eye and begin begrudgingly tapping stop on the third snooze of my phone. It was inevitable. Practically still asleep, I read my lengthy, essay-like message that I had received hours before with that ever-so-convenient time difference, and compose my lengthy, essay-like reply. The second move is always checking Instagram. I’ll stroll through about ten (maybe thirty posts), flip through Insta-stories a bit before I become disinterested with the lack of ending and the Insta-lives of the Insta-influencers living their best Insta-lives. This is of course after I’ve checked how many followers I’ve gained through the seven hour night frame. Let’s be real, we all do it. Although I am judging you if you have the Instagram Followers app. That’s no way to live. Up until recently, the morning would consist of a regular tune-in of my favorite Snapchat stars. This was before the irritable recent update that has seized any engagement I had left with the app. After about fifteen minutes, or any amount of minutes necessary for maybe about an hour, depending on the day, I get up. There’s only about a fifteen minute break as I brush my teeth, make my bed and slap on some moisturizer before the next social media frenzy kicks into play. As I eat my breakfast, I MUST have YouTube playing as I distractingly feed myself my vegan protein oats or carefully crafted acai smoothie bowl. As I said, like the domestic goddess that I am. When all that is done, food inhaled and technology exhaled, it’s finally time to start the day.
Nobody really knows how much time we spend on social media, nor do we even want to think about it. As I said, spending an obscene amount of time on social media I really didn't think I did. The morning and maybe late in the evening I knew I definitely did, but we sometimes forget about the subtle checking that we do during the working day. The quick check that suddenly turns into a competition between yourself and your Instagram feed of how many times you can hit refresh in the space of a minute. I had heard about an app, called Moment, that tracks the amount of time you spend on social media, and what apps you spend most time on over others. I can’t imagine this being a hugely popular app, but for this assignment it was perfect. After downloading the app ready for the second I reach for my phone as I wake the next morning, I was conscious of it. Maybe it was my awareness that this app was judging my time management skills, but instead of my regular antics I spent a mere 11 minutes on my phone before I got out of bed. This is most definitely the least I’ve spent on my phone before rising for the day. In fact, I actually set my alarm about 30 minutes before I plan on getting up knowing my soaring ability to waste time. However, while eating breakfast I knew I MUST do my regular morning ritual watching YouTube. Of course, the app didn’t know about this as I always watch it on my laptop. Laughing, but not really laughing cause I’m only fooling myself and laptops are technology too whether Moment knows about it or not.
After that, conscious to abstain from laptop use, I decided to do homework that didn’t require internet, great choice. I found myself pretty engrossed in this homework, believe it or not, which took about two hours. So, where I usually check upon check, refresh upon refresh my Instagram feed fueling my procrastination, I didn’t check my phone until my boyfriend text me his lengthy, essay-like reply. Which according to the app, took me seventeen minutes to reply. But what was really happening was the constant dipping in and out of various apps in the process. I am majorly OCD if I’m being perfectly honest, and that number symbol notification drives me insane. Any flash of a notification I MUST click simply to remove the notification whether I read it or not. In other words, I am also not a person that has 19,567 emails. That’s right, all marked read and ALL junk mail deleted. Basically what I’m saying is that it’s not only a dependence on my phone, it’s an obsession for the unnecessary crap that flashes my irritabilities. It’s moments like this where I know I need a digital detox. But honestly, am I really able? Are you?
Later in the afternoon, I reluctantly dragged myself to the gym where I MUST listen to Armin Van Buuren’s live set at Tomorrowland. You can’t workout without music, you just can’t. The app cautions a red symbol on this one as I spend a straight 73 minutes listening to YouTube. Couldn’t feel guilty though in the name of fitness and #health. We’ll let that one slide. Finishing up college work and distracting myself probably clasps my attention until about 10pm, where I then spend 24 minutes flipping and scrolling through endless content. Going to bed around 10:40pm, thinking I’m great, but forgetting the fact this is a Friday night and considered late in my books, I decide to watch around 50 minutes of YouTube instead of going straight to sleep. Clearly I’m obsessed. But, aren't we all?
As a student in the Fashion Institute of Technology, I feel it is especially hard to cut the cord completely, even if it just for a day. There’s always tech-like work to be done. And with those mini breaks in-between those long class durations, and with nobody wanting to talk (#FIT life) you want nothing more but to quickly catch-up with social media and the world you missed in the last two hours or less, cause it’s a LOT. Well, what we think is a lot. It’s moments like this pulling yourself away from your phone mirrors a little more difficult.
The digital world showers us with an exhaustive amount of information with the bulk of it being irrelevant content we probably care about more than we should. Downloading the Moment app, I realized that I spent 5 hours and 9 minutes in total on my phone with 41 pickups. Maybe a digital detox is exactly what I need, that’s a given. This was five hours wasted on a good day, with the conscious thought that I'm being tracked. I can’t imagine how much time I waste everyday. But isn’t that the information that we don’t want to know.
I’ve already quickly deleted this app, but doing this for a 24-hour period I would really recommend. You might not be so aware where your attention is wandering and how long that attention, or lack of, is wandering for. It may allow you to gain a little more perspective, and maybe learn that taking a step away from social media will give you a greater insight into how you spend your time.