The Red Badge of Doom

I am starting a new tradition. As a part of my new-formed anti-stress campaign, I’m doing something that might seem totally uncharacteristic of someone who is so tech-minded.


Well, sort of.

After reading one-too-many articles on how blue light affects sleep, how lack of sleep affects everything, and how the constant beep of updates from my Family group text affects my sanity (wait–I didn’t read that; I just know it), I’ve decided–for the second weekend in a row–to shut it all off.

Last Friday, I uninstalled Facebook from my phone. (Admittedly, I kept Messenger.) I took off Instagram. Deleted the Twitter. I turned off any and all notifications, badges, and sounds from everything that was left. Gone. It was all gone.

Granted, it’s easy to do things like this, because–really–it’s not all gone. It takes a whole 5 seconds to re-install the apps and everything is there, just like you left it. I can’t imagine deleting ACCOUNTS. So the step I’ll take is to delete the app. Let’s not get crazy here.

At first, I was very confused. Actually confused. I kept reaching for my phone and lighting it up and staring at it, but no red bubbles of happiness (or doom, depending on the app) were staring back at me. I realized very quickly that I pick up my phone at pretty much every possible interval–at stoplights, in line for checkout, when I pass the phone walking from room to room, during commercials, during boring parts of TV shows, on the toilet (yeah, I said it). A few hours into no-notification life, I stopped the knee-jerk phone checking.

BUT THEN WHAT DO YOU DO? You’re telling me I have to stand in line at Walgreens and–what–read the bad headlines of the Star? I’m supposed to look at the traffic lights when I’m stopped at them? I’m not supposed to Instagram my salad? How am I supposed to eat this PERFECT salad without sharing how beautiful it is?!

Granted, I’m exaggerating, but not that much. My constant connectedness was ridiculous, and was actually starting to mess with my ability to function. I didn’t feel comfortable being in just one conversation at a time; I had to have three other digital conversations going on simultaneously. I couldn’t just watch TV; I had to watch TV and text and Google “can you propagate ivy” and be alerted that my sister was picking up the comforter my mother had washed that afternoon. One can imagine how that might wear a soul thin.

When Monday rolled around, I couldn’t help but re-install Instagram. I convinced myself that seeing pretty pictures was less harmful than most of my smartphone activities. I also follow a tiny and select group of people on Instagram who can be counted on to only post photos of their dogs, babies, and flowers, so there I’m guaranteed to not have a stream full of depressing news or overshares.

Wish me luck on weekend #2 of disconnectedness (lite). Just don’t do it on Twitter or Facebook, because I won’t get the notification.


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