You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet of late from me.
Yes, it was the summer. I was spending a large amount of time drinking in the sun, at weddings, on the balcony, on holiday. Not a large amount of that time wasn’t spent in front of a laptop or hunched over my phone on a busy train blogging away.
But mostly it was because I’ve made a bit of call.
To try my upmost to take the Internet out of my downtime and stop wasting so much of my time.
If like me, you commute, then that train/tube/bus journey is prime real estate for scrolling. You hop from app to app from station to station, live tweeting the smelly man next to you and Instagramming your daily shoe choice whilst WhatApping your girls group chat to discuss who’s hanging, who’s late and who’s dreading their 9am.
You spend from East Croydon to Blackfriars looking at transformation pictures of people who’ve gone on ridiculous diets and have ridiculous abs, admiring people’s perfectly honed homes and longing to be on so many of these amazingly filtered holidays. And before you know it, you enter a subconscious space of self loathing before you’ve even crossed the river. Because you’re not as thin as that girl, and your breakfast didn’t look as healthy as that guy’s and you live in a rented flat and have a landlord who doesn’t allow nails in the wall, so don’t have a bedroom picture display anywhere near as fancy as that person’s.
Then you check your work emails, and see something that when in a position to sort (ie. your office) wouldn’t faze you but when stuck at a signal somewhere outside of Farringdon, leaves a knot of feeling incompetent in your stomach.
Work is internet based at best. Web-ex’s, research, emails, Skype calls with clients and come lunchtime your time is spent looking through news websites clicking on titles such as ‘Woman found dead beneath 800 pairs of shoes discovered to have once appeared in TOWIE’ and finding yourself knee deep in mindless crap that’s neither teaching you anything or adding anything to your life.
Apart from perhaps some added anxiety that if you don’t go home and make your shoe cupboard look like that one from Pinterest tonight, you too may end up dead under a pile of New Look pumps and you’re yet to achieve any kind of life goal, let alone appear on TOWIE.
The homeward commute follows suits of the morning, and once dinner, washing and gym time is out of the way, there you find yourself, on the sofa, doing the app dance once more.
And before you know it, it’s bed time. And another hour of YouTube tutorials on how to sculpt eyebrows you’ll never grow and looking at an album of wedding photos of someone you’ve never met, you fall asleep to blue light.
I don’t ever think I was in the top 10% worst scrolling offenders. I’m better than a lot of people I know, my phone never leaves my bag if I’m in the pub, I don’t own Snapchat and last posted to Facebook a fortnight ago, and even that was just one of my blog posts.
And on that note, I’m a relatively shit ‘blogger’. I don’t diarise my days for the masses to read. I don’t tag every coffee, every jean and every lipstick. I’m pretty crap at monetising my content. I wanted to blog to write. Write for people to enjoy and for people to learn and for people to laugh. I’m not fussed about tagging every restaurant I’m in and Instagram storying every glass of wine I drink.
I just never got on the wagon.
But I was still bad.
The first thing I’d do of the morning, was go online. Be that to check the news, the train times, how many likes my last photo had got. I was bad on the train and when I once got to work with just 72% battery and all I’d taken away from my journey was an overwhelming sense of needing to be better looking, more fit and a better cook – I kinda checked myself.
I’d lay in bed looking at shit articles online or get knee deep in conspiracy theories about 9/11 at 2am or sit up till the small hours writing post after post to keep the blog dream alive. Then fall asleep and have dreams that involved scrolling screens or white spaces.
The worst bit was catching myself one day just scrolling through Instagram having seen all the things in front of me before.
WHAT AM I DOING, I DIDN’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU HAD FOR BRUNCH THE FIRST TIME AROUND?
So I stopped.
And I became so hyper aware of everyone around me.
Mates texting people that weren’t in the pub with you non-stop throughout the night, or filming sections of your laughs to share with people you plain hadn’t invited along on social media platforms you didn’t even own. My boyfriend watching Twitter videos whilst we sat and watched a film and emailing colleagues back on his work phone.
People actually walking out into traffic, because what ever was on that phone, and on that net was more important than their actual kneecaps.
So now, I’ve just made a conscious effort to take the internet out of the small amount of time I have to myself.
I wake up to the radio now. I listen to the news whilst getting ready and have a deal with myself that no internet happens in that half and hour I have to myself to get ready.
I read on the train now. Be it a book I can’t put down, or that free newspaper that they give away in every station. I get lost in a story, and look up a stop away from work feeling calm, sometimes inspired and often less like I hate my stomach and the lack of avocados in my fridge.
If I have the time, I go for a walk at lunchtime. Or if I don’t, I work through and leave a bit earlier to make a gym class or get to see a friend, or just get home to clean the flat and wash my hair all before Doctor Foster.
I’ve just become hell bent on not wasting my time, especially on stuff that doesn’t have any worth.
My phone stays in my bag, on the side or in my room in the evenings. My attention to what I’m watching, how I’m working out or what I’m doing is razor sharp. I get more enjoyment from TV, I perform better in the gym, and I get my ironing done at some real fucking speed.
And in bed, I read. Or write again. But not on a laptop.
In a notebook, with a pen, without the distraction.
Because in a book, with a pen*, there’s no chance of opening up another tab to see how your stats are going, if that editor emailed you back or if you’ve reached the next thousand followers on Insta.
There’s no chance to get distracted by a web of information you don’t really need.
And it provides you with an end point. No a continuum of scrolling.
I’m not saying for a minute I never use the internet at all anymore. But when you’re strict with yourself, you find yourself only using it when you a) really want to or b) really need to.
Do I need to refresh Instagram for the 19th time this hour? No.
Do I really need to check what my boyfriend just retweeted? No. He’s sitting right here.
Do I want to look at these apps for entertainment or to keep in touch with my loved ones two or three times a day now?
Do I want to stop feeling like I’m wasting large sections of every single day?
*and yes, I do give myself a couple hours internet time on a Sunday to type stuff up so people actually have a chance to read it. I mean, I bored of scrolling, but bitch aint silly!