Sometimes, I stare at my phone and think about how much I hate it.
How often it robs me of my own thoughts, reflection, and introspection. At times, it robs me of peace. It robs me of my time. Oftentimes, it controls and dictates my own emotions. It ignites envy, jealousy, and confusion.
It creates a world where I compare how I feel on the inside to what other people display on the outside. A world where I will never measure up, never look as beautiful, never be happy enough, rich enough, well-traveled enough. This technological contraption holds me as its captor—day and night.
How ironic that I am using and staring at a screen to write this with two screens to my right, ringing with emails and reflecting the whites of my eyes back at me when I make periodic glances in their direction—deciding whether they deserve my attention.
I have limited social media, actually one—Instagram—that I use every day. Every day I tell myself that I will only scroll on Instagram once or twice. I will not allow it to rot away at my brain. I will not allow my eyes to glaze over, mesmerized, scrolling for hours. Funny videos, cute dogs, friends, and family.
The truth is, I don’t care about any of it.
Maybe that is the appeal—the not caring. The ability to escape from any real thoughts or feelings or responsibility for my own life, my contributions to society, my successes, or my failures. My fears. Where I am lacking. Maybe that is why, despite my hatred for the screen, I still participate in something I inherently do not believe in.
Do I care about my brother and his kids? Sure. I care about their well-being, I care about not spending enough time with them, I care about how their jobs are and how the new house is. But seeing their pictures and posts gives me a false sense of a relationship with them, and the truth is, I don’t care about that cute photo of my nephew eating his birthday cake—I care about how that day went. I care about how that day made you feel, acknowledging another year gone. Another year propelled toward our inevitable end.
I care about watching another year go by that we haven’t spoken or seen each other or asked what the other thinks and feels. I don’t know what you care about or what keeps you up at night. I don’t know what you like or dislike, what music you are listening to, or books you have read recently. I know what you post on social media—your facade and often false sense of self—the public-facing self.
The screen provides a false sense of connection and a false sense of importance. The truth is, nobody cares. Everyone is thinking about themselves and whether they measure up to your post or not, whether or not they can make a better one. Whether maybe they could make money off of this somehow. And who wouldn’t? I have those thoughts.
But alas, I hate screens too much for that.
I hate the way screens remove you from the here and now and take you from this earth, out of your own body, and how you get lost in a nonexistent reality. I hate how it takes my husband away from me. It takes away from our quality time together, quality conversation about our days. It takes away from conversations on how we feel and what we dream, what we want out of this short life. I hate that we talk over screens. Talk while staring at screens. Do not acknowledge the other because we are too busy looking at it. I hate the way it makes me feel.
So here comes the inevitable question, what are you going to do about it?
I would like to say I am going to throw my phone out the window, quit my job(s), and give the laptops back to their owners. I would like to say that. Although I would be proud to do all the above and more, it is unlikely. I am attached and bound by a society that convinces me I have to do these things to feel whole. Accomplished. Successful.
It is important to acknowledge that I understand that screens are not all bad, all the time. I know this. I know that technology is one of the greatest accomplishments of humankind. That we are connected, in real time, for the first time, across the globe. I understand that this removes barriers, creates better lives for people, more opportunities for advancement, careers, education, and communication among family members. I know all of this to be true.
But it doesn’t make me hate them any less.