It’s a Wednesday morning and I’m waking up to the sound of raindrops ticking on my attic window. I open my eyes slowly and a small yawn leaves my mouth. I stretch my whole body to undo myself from any stiffness. Whilst I’m doing that, my alarm goes off. It’s 8:30 AM, time to wake up. To stop the penetrating sound of the alarm, I reach out and push the button. Automatically, my arm shifts to the device lying right next to the alarm; my phone. Without even thinking about it, I turn it on and start reading all the messages I’ve received during the night. I start with Whatsapp, then Instagram, Snapchat and Tiktok, and last but not least I check my e-mail to see if I’ve missed any important information. My alarm starts buzzing again, and when I look up to turn it off I startle a little when I see the time; 9 AM. I had been so distracted by clearing all the notifications on my phone that already half an hour had passed. I jump out of bed, put on my sport leggings, lay out my sport mat and start working out. When I’m done with my workout, I rush to the shower to wash my hair while enjoying music from my Spotify playlist. I get dressed, rush through breakfast, put in my Airpods and jump on my bike to go to class.
When I arrive at University I sit down, open my laptop for notes and put my phone right next to it. For the next two hours I’m listening to the teacher talking about diagnostics and stuff, but I find myself easily distracted by my phone and the other apps on my laptop. I’m physically there, but I don’t think I’m really processing the information that’s being shared. When class is over I have a few things to do in the city centre, and I’m meeting up with one of my friends over a cup of coffee. At the times I’m alone I have Airpods in my ears and I’m listening to a Podcast. The day flies by, and before I know it it’s already dinner time. During dinner with my roommates we put on a series on the TV and eat in silence. When we’re finished we chat a little, but at the same time everyone has their phone in their hand and is scrolling through either TikTok or Instagram. By the time it’s 10 PM everyone goes to their rooms and so do I. Just before I set my alarm and close my eyes, I grab my phone again and watch some more videos. Before I know it it’s midnight and then I decide that it’s really time to go to sleep.
Above here I’ve described a pretty common day in my life when it comes to digital media use. The thing is, this excessive use of my phone and laptop is something that repeats itself every day. When I look critically at my digital media use, I think it’s actually pretty ‘bad’. That depends on your definition of ‘bad’ of course, but I think I could reduce my digital media use a lot. Right now, scrolling through my phone is the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up, and the last thing I do at night when I go to sleep. I do not think it is good for anyone to stare at a screen so much, and besides that I think apps such as Instagram influence peoples self-image a lot as well. When you spend a lot of your time online or staring at a screen I think you might forget that there are real things happening around you in the outside world. Because of that, I would like to spend less time on my phone and laptop and be more focused on the real world. However, I don’t really feel something for deleting a few apps or setting a time limit for using my phone, because I’m afraid that I’ll miss something. There is something called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and when I’m not on social media or anything that’s something that bothers me. I’m aware that this is something that is mostly in my head and maybe I should just start by grabbing my phone not being the first thing I do in the morning. Perhaps that is the first step of my journey to less digital media use, and perhaps when I start there I can learn to be less dependent from my phone and laptop. I think that is a nice goal to work towards.
Ah, I understand the feeling of FOMO! Also, good luck with the goal 🙂
The point you have made about Instagram is a very valid one. The view of oneself is not only distorted based on the ideal beauty stands or what not but also how productive you are during the day. I have seen a few influencers boasting about how many things they have on their ToDo list and how good they are at time management/multitasking. And in comparison to them you do, involuntarily, think that there is something wrong with ‘me’ (which is absolutely not the case as we all have our own pace with which we feel comfortable).
I think a while back special apps were very developed to help people with notification distractions. If I recall correctly — these kinds of apps allow you to set a timer during which you are basically banned from snooping on social media or any other apps. The point is that if you are successful, you see a digital tree growing on your digital plot of land that is found in the app. If you break the ground rules, your tree dies and will be a permanent reminder every time you log into the app. And I think there were also phone lock boxes but, perhaps, that is a bit extreme — I mean what if you are getting an important call or an urgent email (maybe I am just making excuses here). But anyhow, there are a few options available to combat the addiction. Now, the effectiveness of such methods is a whole new question.