I didn’t make any New Years resolutions. What’s the point? You get 12 days in, gagging for a gin & tonic and a lay in and rather than thinking ‘I did 12 days of wellness and exercise’, you cane yourself for letting yourself down and not abstaining from fun for an entire month.
Stick dry-vegan-let your armpit hair grow- January up your bum. Things weren’t that bad in December.
But one thing I did decide to do, was to address how out of the loop I’d become. Not through want or intent. But, mainly, because of my phone.
I felt stuck in a bit of a Siri silo towards the end of the last year and I wanted to see if I could change it up.
My phone woke me up everyday, and everyday the first thing I would do was pick it up. I would check it for the weather (even though the window to the actual weather is two steps from my bed), I’d check it for the news, I’d then check my emails, what Mrs Hinch had been cleaning on Instagram and what was going on on Twitter before I even left my bed.
Within 45 seconds of opening my eyes, my mind was swelling with information before I’d even registered what day it was. Lights and detail and I was feeling stressed as I brushed my teeth.
So in 2019, I decided to make one simple change. No phone near the bed. No phone as I lay in bed and try to drift off to sleep and then wonder my dreams all have a digital undercurrent, and no phone the moment I open my eyes.
It was a simple, but has proved a pretty remarkable adjustment.
See, now I wake to a radio alarm. A bit like one of those things your Mum had in the 90’s. Remarkably, they still exist.
It goes off at 7am and I hear the news, in a pretty calm and gentle voice as I come back to the real world.
It’s bloody hard to snooze, mainly because the buttons involve actually pushing in not a swipe, meaning I’m fully awake by the time the news ends and I’m out of bed starting by day by ten past 7.
This was unheard of four weeks ago. I was the Queen of the snooze last year and the mornings were always manic. I’d push myself to the last possible moment, snoozing and scrolling and then run around like a headless chicken trying to get out the door in time for my bus.
2019 mornings and the radio stays on, I get some news, I get some weather, I get some banter. I’ve got time to eat my breakfast, actually do my hair. It’s been lovely.
Also, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m hearing new music in a new way. Not because Apple have recommended me an album, but because a song got released on Wednesday and its first play is in my ears at 07.20am.
I’m not spending my time just in my earphones, on an app of tracks that are curated by me, for me, that only I listen to on my own.
It sounds silly, but I feel plugged back in.
Like I feel more clued up. Even if I’m clued up on Westlife’s new song (which btw is an absolute belter), or the fact that Zoe Ball is back on Radio 2, I feel like I just know a bit more. And not what Facebook or Instagram is serving me up, actual stuff that’s happening.
The first time I look at my phone is to pay to get on the bus, a good 50 minutes after I’ve woken up. Simple change, but it’s literally revolutionised my mornings.
And it’s started to revolutionise my week. Whereas before, if I was on a long journey in the car, I would have ploughed an entire season of a podcast to be in keeping with the binge society we now live in. Now, I’m tuning into the radio again. I’m not in a weird isolated unsolved murder bubble. I’m playing along with a quiz, laughing along to a call in, debating with a panel discussion as I drive.
I get out the car and feel happier. It’s weird and I can’t explain it, but it feels less lonely.
I’ve also spent some of the new year watching TV in real time. Like using my memory to go, it’s Wednesday, and that shows on, and I’m going to make sure I’ve had my dinner so I’m ready to settle down to it in time.
I’m waiting a whole week for the next install and guess what, it’s fine. Being patient and not consuming vast amounts of content in one hit doesn’t kill you.
It feels like 1998 and I’m bloody loving it.
I’m watching adverts again. And not ones that are being targeted at me because Siri listened in to a chat I had last week. Just ones that are on the TV. I’m seeing things I didn’t know were out, I’m learning about new shows, new books, just newness.
Yes, I’m still streaming things from Netflix, there’s learning from going back to basics and then there’s not having access to that mental Fyre documentary. I mean, you’ve still got to be up to date with office chats, mate.
I’m reading my book on the train and before I go to bed. I’m picking up ES magazine. I feel like I’m up to speed again. Like I know what’s going on for the first time in ages, because what I’m reading is what everyone’s reading. Not what my phone is collating for me to consume.
The icing on the cake? Today I bought a Sunday paper for the first time in yonks. The rustle and piles of newsprint on a sofa reminds me of being a kid, my Dad surrounded by news and information for the whole of a Sunday.
It’s nostalgic and it’s been lovely. I’ve sat here for 2 hours, no TV, a cup of tea and devoured the paper and the glossy supplements. I’ve read some politics, I’ve read some business, I’ve read some thing about the mental health implications of social media. I’ve read off paper with my eyes and it’s smashing.
I’m thumbing through stylised curations of interiors and fashion, that’s been really considered. Not an Instagram tile that’s being served to you because someone’s been paid a shit load from Next to stand in front of a graffited wall and arrive in your palm with an instant link to buy it that just makes my pulse accelerate.
I’ve always said I was born in the wrong era. I get pangs of sadness when I see TV footage from the 90’s, because I just want to live a life of a strong power suit and a Toyota Corolla. If I could go back to a time where we didn’t have mobiles and still went to libraries I’d be ecstatic.
But this last few weeks have given me a nice happy medium.
Taking things back to basics a bit, whilst still having the safety net of CityMapper.