Somewhere I read about a study that revealed that the typical digially-addicted person can go about four minutes before they have to check their gizmo again.
I know the impuse… all to well.
I know what it feels like to slow down at a red light and immediately reach for the mobile device that’s mounted on my dashboard.
Or what it feels like to hit a lull in a conversation and cast a sideward glance at my gizmo…. hey, maybe I’ve got a new e-mail or a notification on Facebook!
And I know what it feels like to retrieve whatever is waiting for me out there in the digital firmament – only to to discover that all that’s waiting for me is near-spam, people and organizations clamoring for my attention even as I’m clamoring for something to be attentive to.
Only now I know what it feels like to feel the urge to check. To feel the urge countless times a day but but be relieved of the temptation because there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.
I have deactivated my primary email account from both of my mobile gizmos (iPhone and iPad); I have also deleted Facebook from both devices.
So now when I feel the urge… it’s sorta like taking a long walk off a short digital pier: I feel the urge, just like I have for years, but as soon as it strikes the impulse part of the cortex (or limbic system?), some other part remembers: “There’s nothing there. Don’t bother.”
So now the temptation is a phantom – like the impulses and sensations an amputee feels from a missing limb. Like I’ve amputated my gizmos.
Again, the analogy to alcohol and drug recovery seems apt: If this concerted attempt at behavior modification – and focus/concentration recovery – is going to succeed, then it makes sense to treat this as the first 30 days of digital abstinence. Or, at least, near abstinence. Mobile, abstinence, at least.
And, again, in the parlance of ‘the program,’ I had a bit of a “slip” today. I logged onto Facebook this morning just long enough to see if there was anything pressing in the form of a notification or message.
There wasn’t. Just the usual random trivia. But I sat there scrolling through it for five or ten minutes. Just like sidling up to a bar and saying “I’ll just have a sip…”
So I guess that 30 days starts again tomorrow…