How’s your phone doing? Battery life draining faster than the water from your freshly unclogged plug hole? Deleted the screentime monitoring app? Ignoring the fact that every time your phone bleeps you grab it relieved, knowing there is a chance it is a sign of life from the world out there? From another human outside of your household? Sound familiar? Welcome to screentime and social media addiction and overload in lockdown.
A few weeks before lockdown hit, I had installed a screentime monitoring app on my phone. I wanted to see how often I really picked up my phone, how long I spent staring at my screen. Competitive as I am, I embraced the challenge to prove to myself that I could co-habit with my small device having minimal contact. I did well. Really well. Only twenty minutes on certain days was spent using my phone. I didn’t even have to charge it at night. I was doing just fine.
Fast forward a couple of month and we are in the thick of lockdown. My phone has become my constant companion, I have it with me all the time and I am terrified more than ever to lose it. Gone is the screentime monitor – I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. The first few days, adjusting to our new normal, I turned my phone off a few times or disabled the Internet. I couldn’t bear the influx of grim news on BBC and the increasing aggressiveness and gutter language on Facebook. Everyone had an opinion. Everyone was an expert. And dare someone point out the logic of actually listening to experts. All hell broke loose. After a while though, as the Internet and my head calmed down, I started looking for human connection and lost any shame for drained batteries and being stuck to my phone for a large part of the day. I now speak to my friends regularly, we video call each other, I participate in groups online, watch webinars and send emails to newfound people. I broaden my circle of acquaintances past my immediate circle of friends and listen to new opinions, new ways of doing things, share stories and have small conversations that are no less meaningful that longer heart to hearts. I marvel at our uniqueness and am amazed by how similar we are in many ways. One of my favourite moments so far is, apart from getting to know some fabulous people from all over our planet, when I open up about disliking something I thought was merely one of my oddities. It rang true with so many others and created further dialogues which lit up my days, otherwise filled with selfdoubts and anxious thoughts. I let go of my mobile phone guilt and embraced social media for all its plus points. And for those odd messages that are too intruding, there is always the Block button.
I don’t know when I will go back to “normal” life and what it will look like. Of course, I am not going to forsake friendships forged face to face for an online only platform of communication. But, once again I am grateful for the positive aspects of the Internet, the elimination of time and space, which allows me to have meaningful conversations with people from all over the world. These connections are important to me; reaching out beyond my own four walls and interacting with others despite being confined to home, learning, wondering, sharing. I certainly will forever be grateful for this.