To say my phone, laptop and tablet are my close companions wouldn’t be a stretch at all. Being an anxious person, I check notifications almost every now and then for updates from group chats. For my tablet, I do sketches for my final year project. At times when I eat alone, I check news feeds to pass the time. Others around me do too absentmindedly shoving food into their mouths just as I do. On the way to school, some keep typing on their screens, and some rotate their screens to begin a round of the latest gaming sensation this month. You can tell from the furious swiping and tapping. On my laptop, I play a few games after school with my friends. An updated version of hanging out at the bar, we once called it, as a way to justify gaming to our parents. My less gaming-inclined friend would look at me from the opposite side of the table, wondering why my gaze suddenly became so focused. He’d walk to my side and chuckle as I win another match, ignoring the assignments I have for at least the next half hour. It’s a miracle that I don’t wear glasses. I should be severely short-sighted by now. At the end of the day I had a faint feeling of not being satisfied, as if there was still something more I could’ve done, something in my checklist I could’ve ticked before the day ended. But I would check my phone and realized the to-do list is empty.
Twitchy can be the best way to describe my day. A conscious effort wass required to not reach for my phone. Being a prepaid plan user, getting out of wifi hotspots to do errands become a sabbath from my electronic life as I would need to pay more to get mobile data. I talked to my cab driver, and while I was tired from the socializing, found out that he had an entrepreneurial passion, wanting to solve logistical issues for local SMEs by providing small scale transport services. He also gave some pointers for the iLight installation, recounting the days he worked in IT and solving similar problems between teams of different skill sets. I also talked to him about the weather, something I haven’t done in a long time as I took in my surroundings for once and really tried to see what was happening around me. My hand was still holding my phone just in case of emergencies, but all of this wouldn’t have happened if I kept quiet typing on whatsapp to get through the ride.
On the way home, I would itch to play music in my phone, but instead I just habitually plugged my earphones in, and relished the quiet. While everybody on the bus and train slouched facing their screens, I took a nap to pass the time, letting the drone of rushing underground air sedate me. Pedestrians who passed by are similarly plugged in, and I eavesdropped on one guy’s playlist because the volume was that loud, and subtly banging my head to their tune.
I would say I was less distracted by information from my devices, and more distracted by my own thoughts. My mind had space to breathe and actually think about things that were going on, rather than being forced fed information from a news feed and getting angry at the latest social justice topic. It gave my mind some rest.