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Life without digital notifications

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People are gob-smacked when I say; “I haven’t got a mobile phone.”

The sound of amazement and words of bemusement and disbelief follow. They struggle with this concept. “How do you survive?” They ask.

Then I spend the next ten minutes giving them a monologue of my thoughts on mobile phones and how they’ve removed something human about us in the way we communicate with each other which is in itself irony. Like a bore I tell them how we used to communicate with school friends or work colleagues very well without modern day technology. They look at me with puzzlement written across their face. They look at me like I’m from Bedrock and I’m best friends with Fred Flintstone (they may be right).

You should see their face when I tell them I haven't got a tablet or computer either! Many struggle to pick their chin up off the floor at this news.

I ask myself; is life easier with a mobile phone? And I answer; yes or at least it should be. But unfortunately I can’t help thinking that some people can’t function as a human being without one. Every five minutes they have to check to see if they’ve got a message or text. If they haven’t they think their friends don’t love them anymore. They become agitated and stressed out. Dare I say it; the small device that should enhance our life is destroying it. There, I’ve said it – don’t shoot me, it’s only my opinion – just my opinion.

I couldn’t help think that week four’s experiment was going to be an easy one for me. As unbelievable as it may sound my only form of digital communication is a small laptop that I access the internet from. I check e-mails and one or two websites that interest me a couple of times a day. This information surprises lots of people but I’ve never felt the need to have anything else as digital information. I was sure the experiment of turning off my laptop and not accessing my e-mails would be easy but before I knew it I realised I was wrong. Here are my four days without digital notification…

I turned off my laptop in the evening in preparation for the experiment the following day. Knowing I wouldn’t be seeing an e-mail or accessing the internet for four days it felt a little weird. I took Bobby for a walk but something was nagging me. At one point I thought of a question to ask Sarah and wished I had a mobile phone to ask her immediately. How strange I thought, I’ve never felt like that before. Was it because I wasn’t able to access my laptop? Was it because I knew I lacked the ability of technological communication and was searching for some other way of connecting? Whatever it was it was weird and the first day hadn’t even begun yet.

Day one; I woke up and I naturally thought about checking my e-mails, the evening before I’d blogged week three’s experiment before turning off the laptop. Sometime later in the evening Sarah told me she started to read it but gave it up because it was too long. She told me a blog should be short. It was constructive criticism but seeing as I didn’t even know what a blog was before I’d started the Great Wake Up blog I took it a little too personally and worried what other bloggers thought of it. Of course I wasn’t blogging to impress anyone but I wanted the blogs to be truthful and interesting at the same time. Had I bored fellow bloggers? I couldn’t help think technology was causing me some stress.

For the majority of the first day I couldn’t stop thinking about not being able to access my e-mails and to be honest I didn’t find it easy. I started to see not accessing digital notifications in a different light and at one point I started to sympathise with people who lose their mobile phone - strange thoughts indeed.

These clinging feelings had disappeared by day two. As soon as I woke up I did think of accessing my e-mails but then I realised I was unable to do so. My original feelings towards communication were back. I struggled to work out if this made me complex, indifferent or undecided. Without stating the obvious my afternoon break seemed longer, it felt like I had more time on my hands. In the evening there was the odd thought about this experiment but the second day was certainly easier than the first.

I was away from home for day three and my time was occupied all day so I didn’t miss not accessing my e-mails, out of sight out of mind as they say. But there was still that moment in the morning of a feeling that I was missing something which led me to think if my time was more filled up would I need e-mails et al at all - more musing.

On the last day I was itching to access my e-mails. There’s always that disappointment when you receive spam or Amazon recommending something you’ve already bought from them but the joy you get when you receive an e-mail from someone you haven’t heard for a while or good news is a true joy. Technology is here to stay and will always advance and I suppose the only way of getting the most out of it is to embrace it and work with it but at the same time be aware of what you’re doing with it and how it’s affecting your life. I realised through this experiment that I was no better than the mobile phone-toting generation I’ve criticised so many times. The only difference is my digital communication fix comes from e-mail from my laptop. However I didn’t feel the need to run out and buy a mobile phone.

The only question left to answer was; in modern times is communication in this form addiction or a necessity? I was unsure of the answer. I wondered what Fred Flintstone thought? Maybe I need to call Barney Rubble. Anyone got his number?

Mark Cuddy

Someone who learned to wake up