The Experiment Continues

The experiment of reducing my phone and social media use is continuing. I’ve repurposed a tablet of mine with a Hindi dictionary, a collection of Hindi children’s books, vocabulary flashcards and some videos (mostly Raja Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniyaan episodes).

I’ve also created a routine. I power up the phone in the morning when I leave. I start my music on shuffle, check to see when my bus is due (so I know the fastest route to work – there are a couple of options with four different stops to walk to) and then I lock the phone and use my headset to change songs if I want to. I have notifications set up for text messages, WhatsApp messages (I get about 1 a week), and of course phone calls. The result is that by the time I got to work I never needed to unlock the phone again. I turned off data when I got to work and that’s it. Data goes back on when I leave work to see what bus route is best to get home.

Today that means by the time I got to work I used my phone for less than one minute. And by the time I finished up volunteering at the food bank tonight I had used it only slightly more.

Transit Now tells me when my bus is coming, Gmail is messaging Sage, and Translate was to learn how to say a few words in Spanish to potentially answer questions from people at the food bank (Cauliflower, which I had a lot of to offer, is apparently ‘repollo’)

Well what do I do with all that extra time? I’ve read a lot – in the past four weeks or so I’ve finished six books. At that rate I could read as many as 72 books this year – I read 34 last year including a few fairly short graphic novels. This morning I also spent a great deal of time reviewing Hindi vocabulary. It boggles the mind how much more time I have.

I have a few different volunteer gigs going now – mostly helping hungry people in Toronto – helping make breakfast some Saturday mornings and volunteering at the food bank every Wednesday. I’ve connected with other folks in my own neighbourhood for some more potentially awesome volunteer opportunities.

I joined a Randonneuring group. They arrange endurance cycling rides. This weekend I have a 60 KM ride scheduled. I hope to manage a 200 km or possibly a longer one this summer. I think I’ll pass this year on their 600 km ride (yes, in one ride – no overnight stays).

As you saw I started running again. This makes me incredibly happy. This year will include a bit of trail running and, ideally, a half marathon.

I’m doing improv again. Sage and I took a class and I overcame my fears and got myself back on stage again. We’re taking another class starting next week with more shows to perform in. And I’m looking for still more stage time.

I truly never thought I’d dare do this again.

But the most exciting and disturbing thing is how much my focus, memory, and concentration has improved. Facts stick with me better and my recall has improved a ton. The constant interruptions to check my phone and social media must have taken their toll. Sage had mentioned it long ago but I didn’t believe her. But having experienced the ‘before and after’ I’m going to have to apologize to her. She was right.

Outside of organized things, I’ve also been enjoying connecting in person with friends for coffee and other social activities. The “How to Break Up With Your Phone” book said it was highly recommended to avoid feeling isolated and I can say that it has been really helpful and really enjoyable. An hour or two spent chatting over coffee is absolutely better than a Facebook like for sure.

And tonight I did one more thing. I went to Facebook, downloaded all my data including my photos and posts and then…

5 thoughts on “The Experiment Continues

  1. Wow. Isn’t it amazing that Sage could notice that before you could. I am glad that you have weaned yourself off it and have returned to baseline sanity.

    1. Yes – but then she’s seeing it from outside, I guess. For me I think it was like the classic ‘boiling the frog’ – it happened slowly and I didn’t notice.

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