‘Right Now’ culture
I think we’re all guilty of it. That desire, expectation sometimes, that things should just happen Right Now. I don’t think any of us (well, apart from good ol’ Mark Zuckerberg) could have predicted the ways in which social media and smart phones would rapidly become a necessity, rather than a luxury, in our modern lives. We have access to billions of people across the globe in the palm of our hands, we can summon food to our doors at 2am with a couple of clicks on an app, and we can (luckily) escape tricky situations with a subtle order of an Uber when we urgently want to get home, or somewhere safe.
And while I do believe in the majority of cases smart phones have solved a lot of problems, they’ve had a negative impact on our attention spans that I just don’t think we can ignore. My automatic reaction when I’m bored, or stuck for something to do, is to scroll through my phone. I live mere minutes from London Bridge, I could literally walk for ten minutes and find myself strolling along the Southbank taking in the sights. But instead of grabbing my keys and exploring my local area, you’re much more likely to find me on the sofa with Parks and Recreation episodes on repeat and my phone in my hand, mindlessly scrolling through Twitter.
If I’m honest, when I fall into my old habits of social media scrolling I just don’t feel great. In fact, looking at everyone else enjoying the sporadic sunny weather in London, or jetting off on exotic holidays makes me feel guilty for not making more of an effort to enjoy what’s out there. And ultimately constantly looking at what everyone else is up to feeds into the pressure I feel to present a perfect, polished lifestyle on Instagram.
A slower-paced life
Recently I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’m slowly, but surely, trying to break my dependency on my phone. When I’m bored, I’ll reach for a novel, or grab my keys and head towards London Bridge for some fresh air. I’ve found taking part in ‘slower’ activities is helping my brain to unwind, and slowly but surely I’m finding my attachment to my phone is decreasing.
Instead of constantly checking for notifications, I’ll leave my phone in another room when I’m doing something I really want to take the time to appreciate. When I’m cooking, it means I can really savour creating something new and different. When I’m reading it means I can fully immerse myself in the story and enjoy every moment of it without interruptions. I’ve found re-focusing on slower-paced activities and giving all of my attention to what I’m doing, and what’s around me, has really helped me to relax.
Constantly checking my phone for something exciting and ‘new’ meant I stopped enjoying what was around me and kind of took it for granted. An indulgent GBK order was always more appealing than rustling up something for myself from what’s in my fridge and cupboard. And an endless stream of Instagram updates would always distract me from that book I’ve been meaning to read for the past few months (or even…years! Don’t judge me!)
It’s a hard habit to break, but it’s definitely worth doing, especially if you find yourself repeating the ‘Social Media check’ loop into infinity.
Appreciating the small things
Since trying not to take part in Right Now culture, here’s a few things I’ve appreciated over the past week:
- Curling up on the sofa with a mug of green tea and a good podcast (I’m really into Sword and Scale right now)
- Reading a thrilling novel in one sitting
- Cooking a meal from scratch – my favourite right now is a Chorizo pasta sauce I’m somehow muddled together from a combination of ingredients I love
- Walks along Southbank with a coffee in hand (and no concern for the time/how long I’ve been out!)
So if, like me, you find yourself feeling a little bit too reliant on your phone, why not leave it in another room for a couple of hours and see how you feel without it? See how long you can go without the urge to check your notifications, then stretch that limit as much as you can. Smart phones can be a (very literal) lifesaver in some situations, but it’s important we feel able to enjoy our lives without them. And I promise that latte-to-go will taste much better if it’s sipped while taking in the sights around you, than with your phone in hand and your head down.