I briefly hung out with the birthday boy yesterday and was a total dick in that I kept checking my phone in the middle of a conversation, a behaviour I abhor in other people. I wasn’t even consciously doing it. And he didn’t even call me out in an utterly pissed off way, just with an irritation-tinged ‘What’s up?’. It’s not the first, or even the 50th, time that this has happened.*
I have this stupid superiority complex about how I’m not as bad as a lot of text-walkers, lunch photographers, or perpetual Facebookers out there, but I’m a damned fidgety person who succumbs to the lure of mindlessly internetting far more than I’d like (including this morning of sloth). I have been known to check my phone at stoplights (while biking, not driving, I promise). On an episode of ‘Gilmore Guys’, Demi mentioned going to a party where he didn’t know anyone, so out of nervousness, he checked the clock on his phone a dozen times in a minute or something. I can relate to an appalling and embarrassing degree.
I wish I understood the psychology better; I know that when I am at my most neurotically insomniac, I will check my phone at 3:12am just to make sure the universe is still there. Last night, I let my phone battery drain and die before I plugged it in; when I saw that it wasn’t on this morning, it did not mean that the world had stopped spinning. I think that, even asleep, I would have noticed if the apocalypse were occurring.
As well, I don’t actually need to be up-to-the-second on Hollywood gossip if someone’s trying to tell me something of actual importance to them, right?
Since I find myself admiring people who can ‘unplug’ from digital life, I started thinking about taking one day a week off from the internet. It seems such a noble and lovely thing, to stop and smell the roses, to get SO MUCH practical business done. It would have to be on a weekend, obviously, since my job involves social media-ing and a lot of internet research. But on a Saturday, I could read tons (except I mostly use a Kindle), get loads of housework done (but I stream almost all my music, so what would I listen to?), go out for long walks (whither my podcasts?), cook new things (like..from of actual cookbooks?), and study for trivia (with what? the old family Encyclopedia Britannica that has been gathering dust for more than a decade?). It seems so inconvenient! Do I really need to do this to prove something to myself? I am not sure.
So, to the kitchen my Chromebook goes, to stream Beethoven while I do a pile of dishes and cobble together some stew. Magical sounds from my phone will entertain while I strip more paint in the front hall (OMG, this project will never end). My Google spreadsheet for keeping track of trivia studying on a quizzing website will be in use. Peter Sagal’s mellifluous (har) voice will keep me sane if I manage to get out for a run today. It’s fine.
But if there’s an actual person speaking to me, away it all goes. But the knitting will almost definitely come out, because who needs eye contact, amirite?
The New York Times has a piece about this today. MORE eye contact? Bah.
* He is not faultless, btw. He does get a lot more texts than I do (ie, more than, like, three a week) and usually answers them immediately, except during meals.