I did a thing two weeks ago. A thing that, to many, might seem simple, even trivial: I deleted a bunch of time-wasting games off of my phone (think Candy Crush and the like).
I initially downloaded these games in order to have a crutch. I am a perpetually early person, and often wait around for others to arrive at restaurants, bars, parties, rehearsals, or whatever. And instead of standing around awkwardly, having a simple, mindless game to play was great.
Lately, though, I started to realize how much time I was spending playing the games. Only playing while waiting for friends turned into playing on my lunch break, playing during meals, and even playing WHILE “watching” Netflix with Ben. I was spending WAY too much time staring at my phone. It become compulsive, addictive even. So, I deleted the games.
I gotta tell you, I actually hesitated when pushing the little “x” button. I’m gonna lose all of my progress. All of my cool perks will be gone. If I ever start playing again, I’ll have to beat all those extra hard levels again and that took forever! And then I was like, “WHO CARES?” and deleted them anyway. And so far, so good. I still have little moments when I’m like, “Damn, I wish I had something to play right now while I wait for xyz,” but I feel good about my decisive action.
This decision was prompted in large part by my recent dive into the world of minimalism and mindfulness. In the practice of minimalism, the focus isn’t just on physical clutter, but also on mental clutter, like spending our time doing things that aren’t important to us (for example, spending hours a day playing games on our phones), which then prevents us from spending time on things we actually want to do (spend time with our families, exercise, cook healthy meals, make art etc).
Another thing I’d like to do is limit my time on social media. I can’t count how many times a day I look at Facebook or Twitter. A lot of that right now is due to the fact that my job isn’t anywhere near as stimulating as it could be, and sometimes all I’ve got to do on a given afternoon is bounce around various internet sites (I know this sounds really awesome, but it is actually really sucky).
Regardless of why I may or may not log into Facebook, I think it’s negatively affecting my well-being. The current political climate is awful, and being bombarded with it day in and day out is exhausting and frustrating. I’d love to just delete my account and be done with it, but it’s starting to feel like social media is inescapable. Many of my friends exclusively use Facebook as a way of inviting folks to parties, or notifying people of big life events. Many theatre groups that I work with or want to work with post audition information in Facebook groups, but not really anywhere else. Or post their rehearsal schedules in Facebook groups rather than via email. I worry that completely leaving Facebook will cause me to miss out on various opportunities.
While I wish it were possible for me to self-limit and just not check these sites so many times a day, experience has shown that to be impossible. I catch myself involuntarily reaching for my phone umpteen times a day “just to check.” Or because I’m bored for 2.5 seconds. Or to avoid making conversation. I think the next step will be deleting the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone. If they’re not right in front of my face, and the apps aren’t ready to pop open at will or taunt me with notifications, hopefully there will be less temptation.
Do you find you have an addictive relationship with social media and/or your phone?