Always On

by maxcharge

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I woke up this morning and made a conscious effort not to check my phone. I washed up, got dressed, locked my sixth-floor apartment door, and waited for the elevator. My hand crept into my pocket. I commanded it to stop. Instead, I let my mind wander. I looked at the door frame and remembered how tall it looked when I was a kid.

I got on the elevator, went out the door, and took a three minute walk to the train station in the brisk morning air. I was forcing myself not to succumb. I was trying to just enjoy the beautiful morning.

On that three minute walk, my mind meandered and I thought of writing a blog post about what I was experiencing. So, now I’m sitting on the train, typing it out on my phone. I guess I succumbed.

Every day, I spend a ridiculous amount of time starting at screens of various sizes, and it has an eerie calming effect on me. It’s a full-blown addiction. I check my email first thing in the morning, then go to work for 8-10 hours, then come home and watch shows online, or play an odd computer game. On the subway, I play games on my phone. I never have to stop and be bored.

It’s odd, but I can’t keep myself away; the effect is numbing and it keeps me from having to think about what is happening in my life. At both my current job and my last, I find myself checking work email early in the morning and right before bed. I don’t do it because my job is that stressful, or because I enjoy it so much (I do – within work hours.) I do it because answering an odd request here and there gives my life an instant sliver of meaning. I’m bored, and rather than channeling my boredom into creative, artistic pursuits, I go after the lowest hanging fruit: meaningless Facebook chatter, work emails that can easily wait till I’m back at work, obsessively checking Reddit.

I have a very limited experience with drugs, but in my head, drugs are what you take to get away from reality, and deceive yourself that everything is great for a few hours. By that definition, being “on” all the time is unequivocally my drug.

And so I find myself laying in bed at night and anxiously starting into the ceiling in the fifteen minutes between when I shut off my computer and when I finally pass out. Most nights, I try to go to bed so exhausted that I don’t have to confront my thoughts.

It’s not always like this; I do manage to disconnect and enjoy life sometimes – usually when I have a longer break from work. I can cling on to little nudges of inspiration and motivation and create something, or find the time to get out of town and go on a trip. Then I start feeling alive, happy, balanced. However, these days are getting fewer, and I can’t blame work or others for it. I need to find an escape from the screen addiction.

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