In The Belly Of The Beast

Daily Prompt: How Do You Manage Screen Time For Yourself?

Artist Unknown

I realized that the internet was a problem when it became clear that if you did not have a social media presence you did not exist.

Not invited to a gathering?

The reason, you would find out  in a message that started at the end of a row of crying emojis or that one with the face waving it’s puffy hands in the air, was that you weren’t on ( Facebook, Instangram-whatever ) and that you must have been ‘missed’.

Fine. I created an FB page and filled it with as many pictures of cats or pictures of talking cats or quotes I made up myself and attributed to nonexistent people – I even gave them a year of birth and death in a lot of those. They were stupid quotes and most of them were spelled wrong and made no sense.

One day a friend of mine sent me an email because she tried to track down the author my ‘quote’ and said she couldn’t find them ( duh ) and that I should pull it because it was ‘false news’ .

I told  her that as an FYI the cats and dogs from the I Can Has Cheezeburger site were made up and that the only people on my page were political trolls so I sincerely hoped my garbage posts were choking their newsfeeds to death because I thought Facebook was a stain on humanity and that it should be put down like a rabid animal.

We had that exchange in 2006 and guess what. I was right. FB is a stain on humanity and has impacted a lot of people’s ability to maintain  and form genuine relationships.

Artist Unknown

I have this strict rule.

I use my computer and notebook FOR WRITING ONLY.

When it comes to my phone- I have a coach.

He pulls it out of my hand when he thinks it’s been there for too long. . He sits on it. He has been known to pick it up and drop it random places like the bathroom, our patio and for reasons only he understands, he will drop it in the box of plushie toys he doesn’t play with:

Hamish Macbeth
Photo P.C. Knapp

That’s right- my dog monitors my screen time.

When I was suffering from and being treated for depression my dog, Hamish Macbeth, would sense when I was ‘disconnected’ and he would get me to engage. He would bring me toys, he would sit next to me and lean into me. He would lift my hand up. Believe it or not those gentle reminders to be ‘present’ were very helpful for someone who was trapped in their own head.

I can only assume Hamish sees my phone as a problem because when I’m on it I must put out that ‘disconnect’ vibe and he does what his instincts are telling him to do. He wants me ‘back’ in the moment.

So now when I’m on my phone this little bell goes off in my head and not matter what I’m doing I’ll actually shut it off and put it away.

I think it doesn’t hurt to know when to walk away from the screen- of course you run the risk that a bunch of advertisers and people harvesting ‘likes’ for their posts will miss you- but really- do they matter that much to you?

Because they shouldn’t.