Humanimals: walking with tech addiction

I half-wrote this post a couple of months ago. Since then, I’ve kind of reached that place where I’m managing to give ‘quitting social media’ a properly good run, and it’s sort of switched something in my brain. It’s weird to read these words back and feel the emotions that were so explosive, all stemming from that little black rectangle of technology. No doubt, if I could log into facebook on my phone (I’ve blocked it) I would have done 10 times over in the last month. Blocking sites really, really helped – I know I have absolutely no willpower. I’ll probably write a bit more about it if I manage to carry on – in the meantime, I’d thoroughly recommend watching ‘The Great Hack‘ on Netflix if you really want a final push to give up social media. Anyway, I thought I’d just post the piece below anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Yesterday, I went for a walk. 3 hours later, I’d covered a good 7.2 miles, stopping for lunch on a bridge, snapping some lovely photos, and managing to hatch 3 pokemon go eggs whilst I was at it. At home, I looked back over the terrain I’d covered, feeling quite happy that I’d added some miles to my ViewRanger challenge this year, and also that this was the furthest I’d managed to walk since getting ill. I felt achy, but good. A little sunburnt, but filled with accomplishment. I resolved to carry on the next day, adding back the miles to my challenge that I’d avoided the last few months, being in a bit of a funk with myself.

Today, I went for a walk. Almost there, I suddenly realised I’d left my phone at home, charging.

Firstly came anger.

What an absolute idiot! What was the point of going on this walk when I couldn’t even add the miles to my total? I’d have to go out againย just to catch some pokemon. (Yes, I love PoGo!) My step total for the day would be totally out. It’s the first time I’ve been motivated to even aim for 10,000 this year! I’m so stupid. Why do I forget everything? (actually, this could be part of the reason…)

Well, I’m not going back. I’m pretty much there. I’ll just do a tiny walk, instead of the long one I was going to aim for – because there just isn’t any point. Idiot.

All of these thoughts crossed my mind in just a couple of seconds. I parked up, berating myself. Chucking my bag in the boot of the car, I felt like something was missing. A mild panic started in my chest, tingling my fingers and settling in the pit of my stomach. Another flash of anger – this is just a phone! Why am I so bothered? How have I let myself get to this place in life?
Shaking my head, I slammed the boot shut and set out towards the path, trying to figure out what to do with my hands, with my body. My phone is usually shoved in my back pocket, so why do I suddenly feel so awkward?

Nomophobia -the stress experienced when out of reach of your phone – is a real and rising problem amongst us in modern day life. We rely on our phones for everything, experiencing panic when services go down – for example the recent Google Calender outages – with many of us relying on our phones to pay for goods, keep our schedule in order, access social media and the internet, and even run our households for us (“Hey Google, turn the tv on”). This small, rectangular plastic block runs so many differing aspects of our lives that when it goes wrong, our reactions can be very strong indeed. Tech addiction is real and becoming more and more widespread.

I think a lot of emotion is tied in with our mobile devices. They’re not just a glorified television remote (although yes, they do that too). Our hobbies, social lives, likes and dislikes all flow from this little glowing screen. We put our souls into our phones. And they feed on it.

After walking a little distance in an absolute funk, I began to notice the cloud that surrounded my head begin to disperse. I drew my vision and attention up from the familiar hunched pose and felt my breathing come a little easier. My eyes saw new colours and new detail. Just walking, walking, walking – being a human, with no distractions. Doing what humans are designed to do.

One foot in front of the other. Through the squelch of mud, that earthy scent underfoot. Lured in by a thousand different greens, I wandered through woodland. And now, with nothing to steal my attention, I had a moment where I felt entirely, fully present. In what I was – a human, a part of life – and where I was – amongst other beings, trees, plants, woodland inhabitants. I felt how easily my legs swung with my back straight and my gaze on the path ahead. I became aware of subtle differences in smell, texture, light – and realised this is what I am designed for. These things are the things I should be noticing. Not how many little red notifications are popping up in the corner of my social feed. I felt both very small and infinite at the same time. And a little sad, too. I am a human! With all this potential, exactly where I should be – walking as a part of this web of life, with the earth instead of on the earth. And where have I been, most of my life? Inside a small, black rectangle, lying to the world.

In realisation, I wandered back to my car – another technological creation, of course. In realisation, I drove slowly home. And in realisation, I begin to change.



2 thoughts on “Humanimals: walking with tech addiction

  1. I don’t have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account….I know, you’re shaking your head in disbelief….and never have had any of them. My children have Facebook accounts (they are in their 30s) but what’s odd is that tell me that they very rarely log on to them anymore. And I’ve talked to younger people (20ish) who tell me that they prefer not to be on social platforms or that they use Facebook in a very limited fashion only to keep in touch with far flung family members and friends. My husband has a Facebook account that he uses to keep in touch with family and his flying club….that’s about the extent of his use of the platform. Facebook was supposed to be a platform that allowed people to “reach out and touch someone’ to borrow a phrase from an old commercial. Yet we have seen a rise in people saying that they feel more and more distanced from meaningful relationships with other people since these social platforms have grown in prominence and taken on such a large role in people’s lives. These platforms have created self imposed isolation for many. Go into any public space and simply watch other people. Note how little most of the people you are observing look at anyone else or engage in casual conversation with someone else….they’re glued to their phones. I’ve watched people in the park when I’m out walking who never look up from their phones to see what a beautiful place they’re in. I’ve watched people at restaurants who have come in as a group to share a meal together that spend more time engaged with their phones than with the people that they’re sitting at the table with. It’s sad. I commend you for realizing that these platforms are an addiction and consciously deciding to move away from them so you can enjoy the places and people that surround you in real-time!

    1. I think if I could go back in time I would choose not to have a Facebook account! I’ve sat and watched people too, and it’s true, especially sat in a coffee shop or similar – people just sat on their phones ignoring each other. I watched a whole family the other day each on their phones and iPads at a table.
      I think Facebook has changed in how it operates and also how it’s viewed by people. I’ve also found young people don’t use it at all or, like you said, in a very limited way. I’ve found I’ve stepped away from Twitter, too – even with a ‘blocked words’ list as long as my arm it was getting very hard to avoid negativity on the platform, sadly.

      I quite like Instagram – I only follow a few people and like to watch the ‘stories’ part, I find it more personal and less ‘filtered’ than the actual Instagram feed. Maybe that’s just the people I follow!
      But I’ve found I’m engaging more in the real world since stepping away from FB and Twitter – and I’m really quite enjoying it. I’ve managed to avoid the news for a month! ๐Ÿ˜€

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