Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The '95 Phone Challenge

The YouTube video, I Forgot My Phone, essentially shows the main character attempting to connect with people who are too busy connecting with their phone. It was posted 2 weeks ago and already has over 21,000,000 views. I wonder how many of those views were on a cell phone.

I've been hating my phone for a while now. I had developed an OCD thing with notifications on my phone...as in, I don't like them. I have to read or listen to messages, check my e-mail, play my Words With Friends games, check Twitter and so on until the notifications go away. Really, John? Did a piece of shit from Cricket actually give you anxiety? Apparently so.

One of the benefits of being in jail/treatment for 6 months was not having a phone or Internet. It was weird for the first couple of months. I swear I felt my the phone that wasn't in my pocket vibrate every once in a while. But then, I didn't miss it anymore. I began to enjoy reading actual books and playing chess and Scrabble face to face with people.

Then I got my phone back. Having it again was kind of yay and ugh at the same time. I immediately fell back into constantly checking Facebook, playing Words With Friends, reading Twitter and texting when I wasn't doing anything...or even while in the middle of doing things. I started becoming very irritated when I used my phone, even just texting or phone calls.

This is ironic because everyone who knew Drunk John knew he liked to drunk dial, drunk text and drunk ramble. A lot. Usually at 2am. On a weeknight. (sorry)

Essentially, part of me didn't want to be one of these people not being present because they have to take a picture or video something all the time. Most of it, though, is I think I liked having free time without a device requiring my attention. Well, what the hell...I'm a big boy (kinda). I can do something about it.

I cut off most notifications, finally. That was a no-brainer. I ended up deleting the Facebook app because my phone has the storage capacity of a floppy disk using performance enhancing drugs. I quit using Twitter because I suck at it. And yet, that wasn't enough.

So, I came up with something for myself called The '95 Phone Challenge that I've been doing for a little over a week now. It started off with me swearing that I wouldn't look at my phone in public except to answer a call or text. I would read a book every time I felt like looking at my phone like everyone everywhere seemed to be doing. I decided to go further with it. I decided I would treat my cell phone like it was 1995. '95 was one of my favorite years, and, from what I remember, I enjoyed life and was very social without a cell. (Granted, I was also young and a college senior...I am aware that I am neither.)

The challenge was that I could only use my phone if I was somewhere that had a land line available for use. I can use my phone at home, obviously. There is a phone at work, so I can use it right before or after my shift. Technically, I can check my phone if I walk past a pay phone. Otherwise, it stays in my backpack or pocket. It doesn't exist when I'm out and about. Land lines only...other people's cell phones don't count. In 1995 anyone with a big-ass cell phone couldn't afford the minutes to let someone else make a call anyway.

I want to be present in the moment. I want to actually take in life instead of spending time reading about others taking in life or looking at their pictures of them being active. I think it's great that I can see what friends and family are doing with their lives, but technology makes it too easy for me to just waste online.

Not only that, but when I spend all that time staring at the computer screen or my phone, I end up just reading a bunch of shit I normally wouldn't, like comments. Every post on Facebook...every news article...every YouTube video...everything online (including this blog post) has an option to post a comment. And they're almost all horrible, opinionated and useless. If I limit how much time I spend online, I'll limit what I read.

So far, I like the challenge. One thing I've noticed is when I do use my phone and text or call a friend, I'm happier about it and therefore, I can have a pleasant conversation...as opposed to before where I would essentially end conversations abruptly because I was a cranky pants.

I read more. I can read books on my phone, sure...but it's not the same as a real book...and also, it's really frickin' easy to stop reading and go check Wikipedia about something in my head...then sneak over to Facebook...then YouTube...then ooh, look, cat pictures...then--ah, crap, I was reading...

I wanted to post about this to let you guys know I feel like I am more aware of my surroundings...like I'm paying more attention to what is actually going on around me. Granted, I should probably not listen to my iPod as much as I do too, but I can't listen to people on the bus. That's a bit too much awareness.

I also wanted to let you know about this so that if you call or text me and I don't respond, you'll know why. "Oh, he must not be home. Hopefully he'll check his answering machine later."

Next week on "Fuck Technology": Old man Rabon recommends dropping Instagram and setting up a darkroom in your home.