After a decade as a journalist, Jennifer Branton is on the path to finding a balance between career and writing.
The Smart Phone Addiction
Around the time when T-mobile Sidekick phones were still a thing, I was adding Social Media to my daily diet.
I was always a late adapter to everything- I still had a flip phone when most people had ditched their Razr to get the first Sidekick because it could go on the "real internet" better than the links few links that would work on the flip phones. I was still heavy into the concert scene at the time, writing reviews and running a few promo teams for local acts, and no one could believe that I hadn't upgraded to something that I could boost about my adventures on Friendster, when begat MySpace, which begat the eventual pre-programmed apps that come on every smart phone Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, Reddit, Instagram.
I've had a few Iphones, again entering the game late at about the 4th generation as I refused to give up a Blackberry until there was no more network support for them. With a better phone, friends began to overwhelm me with invites to this site, that site, explaining how much better it was to join the newest flavor of the week even though they cross-posted the same content to at least four different networking sites daily.
I finally found myself taken in and started to post myself. Looking back there was never any truly interesting tidbits worth sharing with whoever was checking in on my pages.
Did anyone care about my day at work? What I had eaten that lunch? Was there a need to take pictures every time a group of friends assembled and put it on each individual account and tag each other?
The incessant notifications beeping all day had actually driven me to keep my phone on silent since about 2009.
No one texts anymore, but the same people that wouldn't answer an invitation to do something in text message would respond to my text on Facebook Messenger. This was getting ridiculous.
I was too the point to where I am actually planning on going back to a dumb phone so I can spend less time staring blankly at the rectangle in my hand and actually experience life again.
Maybe this is over encompassing my friends base in general, but too much is being shared online. It isn't just that people are posting too personal of information that could be later setting them up for be hacked, or identity theft- it is mainly I don't care about whining and boring dribble that takes up blocks of my feed.
Please don't take this as anything personal dear friends, but I can honestly contest that no one is going to comment when you post a picture of what you are having for dinner, or Checking In at a restaurant, or movie. There is a difference if you make a genuine post to begin conversation on such a topic looking for feedback, I guess- but I have literally seen a post from a friend that read like their To Do List detailing such things as going to the bank, stopping for a sandwich, and getting gas since they left the house that morning.
No one replied.
Maybe it makes me some sort of monster for not using this opportunity to open up conversation but I was afraid I would find myself typing "WHO CARES!"
Social Media can be a great thing to connect with family and friends across miles that we don't see very often, but the day to day things need to stay off the feed. Before I finally had my Facebook deactivated, I had so many people hidden from my feed, it was down to accounts for television shows, music, and products.
Keeping Up With The Newest Sites
"All the old people are on Facebook, the young people are using (fill in the blank here)," My ex coworker's fourteen year old son that was telling us this one afternoon was trying to talk everyone on Snapchat, to which I can't even tell you what it does other than sending messages that are no longer visible after awhile or something.
I like to feel like I'm still semi young and "with it", if you will. Slightly too old to be a millennial but not quite forty. I am over the next, newest, greatest, best thing since sliced bread to come to the internet and an app store near you- each time the newest thing is introduced.
Call me crazy, but I miss just calling people on the phone. You, know those tiny pocket computers still make phone calls right? I miss getting a text message that isn't a Facebook Message.
I very much want to go back to having a little more privacy without the entire world all narrating their every action to me at any given moment of the day or night.
Some people are really into the social experience, but as I have grown older, and maybe a bit wiser, I have also seen some of the negative that comes from "putting everything all out there for the world to see" as well.
At least three times I have had my Facebook hacked and my account sending out random messages to people in my Friends List with links to click. I have abandoned two email addresses that had also somehow been sending spam in the past despite changing up the privacy settings. In the last year, even on the highest privacy setting I experienced someone that wasn't on my friends list stealing pictures from my Social Media that were posted on Only Me settings and reposted elsewhere online.
There will always be cracks in the system and I'm really just over the experience.
Since my most recent hack and being told that my account was sending out spam again with links for a E.D. medication, I closed everything down for good.
I try to think about how I communicated with those most important to be back before the shiny new Smartphones. How much of our day is open to other things when we aren't staring at a phone screen mindlessly for hours on end?
In the last few weeks, except for my wanders to Reddit for a quick read, Youtube for streaming content as I am of the generation that only uses streaming services as a way to watch television programs and keep up on world events; things have been much less stressful for me.
I feel less distracted by the nonsense that was taking occupation in my brain all day. I was less angry and more willing to talk to some people that I had been avoiding because I hadn't seen the fourteenth picture they had put online today of their dog, or had to skip through someone's entire reaction series to something they were watching on TV and had to update something about the plot on every commercial break.
I was soon realizing that life without Social Media cramming everything down my throat was making me more willing to talk to the people I knew and actually pay better attention when they were talking to me because my brain wasn't constantly silently cussing at them about the four paragraph ramble about their service at Red Robin that they went on and on and on about until they got a mixed stream of comments.
I thought I might feel left out, and there are probably many great things I am not hearing about as I am avoiding logging in. It isn't like I have no other access to this world though.
The less time I spend staring at my phone, the more conversation I find myself having.