It's been three months since I made the conscious decision to switch off all of my notifications on my phone. It was a decision that came after a long period of stress and anxiety in my life and was made in a sort of spontaneous desperation to quiet the excessive noise of the online world.
And Boy did it get quiet.
Each day since this departure from what is now considered a social normality, I have enjoyed the pleasurable sensation of no longer feeling my attention being pulled in every single direction by the ever-addictive plip, click, ding and chime of my social media accounts. You may wonder how I survive running several online business' with absolutely no idea who is reaching me at all times of the day and to that I say; it is the only way I survive.
As a painter, graphic designer and content creator my time in a single day is already stretched, we only have so many hours to fulfil our passion and produce work that is of value and to the standard we wish to hold for ourselves. The thing about creators is time is always the worst restriction, with our internal selves constantly birthing and boiling over with new ideas and not enough hours or energy to manifest them into reality.
The first thing I noticed when switching off the chiming bells and whistles of the social world was the actual wealth of time I had at hand, literally, in my hands, swiped away on my phone. The second thing I noticed is who and what was really important to me. When you no longer have the constant narration of interaction from social media you can find that actually every single person who follows you, friends you and whatever else these sites claim to promote, is actually actively in your conscious awareness with each multi-coloured, multi-gradient notification bubble that floats across the ever so tantalising screen.
When I no longer had the omnipresence of those interactions I noticed who I thought about without any 'notification', who I missed without the nod toward an instagram story. I began to unfilter my life and invest more heavily in what and who was okay with my new and apparent lack of online presence and attention. Im okay with not replying straight away now, I remind myself that if it was 1982 and my friend in New York wrote me a letter, they wouldn't be expecting a reply for at least a few weeks. In that time we have the ability to healthily examine ourselves, to think hard and long about being earnest and to ask real questions of one another. In that time between replies we have time to live, love, have experiences, process shit we are dealing with. Now as soon as a notification comes across the screen so many people demand your attention and they demand it right now.
In these three months of notification-divorce, my commitment towards my artwork has quadrupled, my work is growing and my attention span with it, which is a big deal for someone who apparently has ADHD. Oddly I am actually more social than I ever was, but in a more healthy and metered way. As an introverted extrovert by nature the balance is ever swaying in each direction depending on my energy and current state of being and so having this ability to tap in when Im feeling better and not already knowing what was going on all the while in my absence is a true god-send to my overall health.
For those who know me well already, you would know that I struggle with addictive habits and going cold turkey on removing notifications is something that I thought I would conflict with immensely, but its proved more addictive not knowing whats going on all of the time. It is with great satisfaction that I sit very few times a day and check my notifications, reply to friends, check my emails and text messages. I have found grace and calm in the solitude of notification silence that has given way to time for sketching, writing, reading books and once again truly relaxing.
I think this may be a new thing of permanence for me, I don't see myself ever enjoying scrolling down the long list of names that distractingly popped up whilst I was enjoying a conversation with another actual, real life person who was actually sitting in front of me. I don't see myself enjoying again, the blinding light of my phone arising from its slumber in the middle of the night, to notify me of a facebook post, laying no more in internal combat with its garish insomnia-inducing glow.
If anything this entire decision has firmly cemented for me that there is a great deal of realness and authenticity to be found within the expanded world of connectivity that is the internet. With careful and considered use, our true friendships strengthen, our creativity evolves and expands and quite possibly our real life encounters become all the more present and real when unperturbed by the next vibration or chime from the world concealed behind that tiny glass screen.
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Thankyou dear reader, Im happy to say this is the first blog post on my website and I believe this may be an ongoing space for me to share some of the more personal aspects of my life and my creative journey. Let me know if you can relate!
Much Love, Daniel