Turn off all notifications for 4 consecutive days....
Ping! Text message from Mum. Ping! whats up photo from Dad. Ping! ooo Groupon deal. Ping! Facebook poke. Ping! unidentifiable ping! Ping! Better check again... Ping! Nope still nothing... Ping! And I think you get the point. Constantly annoying but virtually addictive are those notifications that ping off my phone all day long. Giving them up for the guts of a week was slightly disconcerting but possible, surely?
As my unrealistic New Years Resolutions kicked in (to be proactive, driven and never lazy, of course) so too did the January Blues and the January ‘what to dos’. Finding myself unemployed and out of touch this month certainly did not help. Usually when in the mists of a 60 hour working week I rarely find the time to look at my phone, never mind enjoy an article or a blog. I am well known in my circle as someone who, and I quote “never answers their phone”. It is also not expected that I return any text message without giving at least two days to over analyse and consider my response . But this gift of extra time came with the unconscious requirement of carrying my phone in hand at all times, as if stuck by glue. Was it a job offer I was expecting, some inspiration, a realm to escape or maybe just the ability to respond to an emergency with potential life saving speediness? What ever the reason it made the turning off of my notifications incomprehensibly difficult.
Ping! I still checked my phone. I checked it when it came into view, when I heard another phone make a noise and I checked it for reasons that were clearly unjustifiable. So what did I get out of this experiment apart from exposing my undesirable fear of solitude? The realisation that I am not alone in this irrationality. As the world continues to sprint (I drag my heels behind it), It sidesteps anyone who cant keep up and people find themselves forgotten. All our attention is spent on those who are more extroverted on social media. Addicted to our screens, we want to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Without being part of a group, labelling ourselves by our hobbies or grasping identification through skills how are we to be happy with just being?
As I glanced at my blacked out screen I wondered if I was missing some vital information but I also asked myself who was NOT on the other side of my phone. Having forcing myself to accept that Claire Danes (Most recent girl crush) was probably not inviting me for a coffee I considered who else, if anyone, could not possibly have texted, emailed or face booked me. My Granny of course! And in realising that there would be no ping, no reminder, no calendar event telling me to give her a call I was reminded to re evaluate my dependance on notifications.
1.Never read notifications in the company of others.
2.Don't let notifications interrupt the task at hand.
3.With every notification think of who it could NOT be and make contact
4.Do not feel guilty for taking pleasure in notifications, they are still at most a form of communication.
I thought it was important to realise the virtues of technologies also. The ability to reach loved ones, share experiences and make new contacts is an amazing privilege of our society and time. Its just up to me how I utilize this resource and be honest with myself about its effect on my happiness. And so after having my wrists slapped and phoning my Granny (who I love deeply) I have completed this experiment with food for thought on the importance of balance and the beauty of contradictions.