Unplugging a Bit at a Time

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?

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10 thoughts on “Unplugging a Bit at a Time

  1. Amy says:

    This is great. I struggle with whether to ditch the Facebook app or not, and would like to limit my use without deleting.

    I recently scaled way back on my couch sitting/mindless Netflix watching which has helped with the excessive Facebook scrolling and has been awesome all around! I hope this has a similar outcome for you!

  2. veryrach says:

    I don’t keep any games on my phone. It does help a bit. I’ve also had one of those jobs that sound fun but actually are not when you just have to play on the internet all day. That’s actually why I started my blog to begin with. Facebook is extremely addicting I think… I struggle with wanting to leave it, but then, like you, using it as a source for many other things.

  3. txa1265 says:

    I only keep ONE game at most on my iPhone at this point (maybe a few on my Samsung, but I use it less and never play games on it). I basically never use Twitter on mobile, same for SnapChat … so it is Facebook and Instagram that I have on my phone.

    Recently I went through Instagram and cleaned up a lot of feeds that were way too busy or that didn’t follow back (be careful of those utilities, they are not always accurate) and it helped quite a bit. And thinned things out on Facebook … too much crap. But on Facebook there really ARE too many connections across the decades that ONLY keep up that way.

    Oh well … never-ending struggle 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Never-ending struggle is right. I keep meaning to do a more ruthless Facebook “purge,” but I’m a) sentimental, and b) very sensitive to potentially hurting peoples’ feelings by unfriending. I’ve unfollowed a lot of people, but that has only helped so much.

  4. wellfeducated says:

    That is awesome that you did that! I have become have so sick of phones. We use them when we are bored or feel uncomfortable, hiding behind our phones. I have been really trying to make myself sit in the moment and not hide behind my phone so much. I also realized that I don’t need to be entertained 24/7.

    • Rae says:

      That’s exactly it–hiding behind the phone. I’m as socially awkward as the next millennial, but it won’t kill me to just sit and *gasp* interact with people.

  5. SuzLyfe says:

    The only game that I keep on my phone is crosswords, and I only just added that back about a month ago (for when I am on the bus on the way to work). I used to do IG then, but I’ve taken a bit of a step back from it now.

    • Rae says:

      It’s so addictive, it’s crazy. I’m on IG a decent amount, but I don’t follow that many people, so the amount of time I can spend on it is minimal, thank goodness. And it’s definitely my favorite of the social medias.

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