This is the fifth post in a week-long web series that documents Preethi’s day-to-day experiences while forgoing a relationship with her cellphone. Check back daily for the next article.
In Hindi, five is called “paanch,” and I’m ready to paa(u)nch someone in the face this Monday.
I didn’t sleep very well the previous night and I wasn’t ready for the week to start. Not using my phone is turning out to be more problematic, as this week I’m organizing some club events. Catching hold of people through email has been rather difficult and, at this point, I started to reconsider the pros of being on social media and began to turn skeptical on my “no phone” propaganda.
As my day rolled out, I didn’t have time to trace whether I missed my phone or not. When my work shift started, I heard the familiar sound of my phone and I immediately reached for my pockets; but it wasn’t my phone, it was my colleague’s. I’m not surprised by this — I simply wanted what I couldn’t have. After my shift finished, I rushed home because this week’s work wasn’t going to do itself.
The process and feeling behind my seven-day challenge repeats itself. I made food that I couldn’t capture and share, and realized how profusely I indulge in sharing the food I make. I almost heard myself say, “It looks so pretty and no one can see it!” If my great grandmother was alive, she’d probably give me the biggest whack on my head. When did we start doing things for ourselves as well as the thousand and one friends we have on social media? She wouldn’t like how I live my life online, so why do I allow myself all these bad habits?
These urges speak a lot to my helplessness. There have been many times in the past when I would wake up and sit on my phone for hours. Even though I knew that I had a lot of things to attend to, I would scroll myself into an abyss of digital garbage as I felt lethargic at my best. As soon as I would realize that I had used my phone for an hour, I would force myself to put it down — only to pick it up again in 10 minutes.
It, in fact, is a roach. We could live without it, but no matter what we do, it always creeps back into our lives. As soon as I finished cooking, I headed to the library and worked until 2 a.m. As I walked back home, I tried to evaluate what makes us want to look at our screens every 15 minutes or so. I think it’s the unrestrained access to our phones that makes us pick them up and mindlessly scroll through posts.
In a way, it isn’t a big deal that we want to share pictures of our food or the coffee that we’re overdosing on. It is a big deal when we share these on social media, without necessarily screening ourselves. Asking the question, “Why am I sharing this with people?” is always a great place to start.
Given that these were my reflections, I cannot say that I didn’t want my phone back. I was increasingly getting bored without entertaining visuals and engaging videos that I usually view on Facebook or Instagram. I’ve been expecting a full meltdown, and to me that was going to be the ‘storm’ that marked the end of this challenge. But I’m starting to realize the real storm is being stuck in the endless tug-of-war that is forgoing my cellphone and fitting in with the status quo.