Life: Viewed Through a Phone?

A while back I found myself discussing my morning commute to work with a friend of my mother’s.

“Ah, you must have seen the whale!” she said.

Whale?  I’m pretty sure there were no whales on the track.  I had images of great hulking plastic whales sticking out of the roofs of houses in the trendier districts of Bristol through which I passed on a daily basis.  And though I thought about it carefully, nothing seemed to ring a bell.  There was no whale.

“Yes, there’s a big sculpture of a whale, right next to the train line.  Have you seen it?”

I thought I knew this line better than I knew the lines on the back of my hand.  How had I missed the mighty whale?  I scrabbled around for a response, and the best I could come up with was “I usually sit on the opposite side of the train.”

This, I immediately realised, was an untruth.  I sat on that side of the train this morning, I dimly remembered.  The side with the whale.

So how was it that I had somehow missed an enormous whale sculpture, lying languidly next to the rails like a branch line wicker man?  The answer slowly dawned on me.

I was on my phone.

It’s a peculiar thing, the modern craze of being on your phone, all day, every day.  Back in the late 90s I can vividly recall a school friend, who returned to school after the summer of our GCSEs out of uniform and suddenly transformed from the quietest girl in the year, to a sixth form extrovert with a much older boyfriend and a new-fangled instrument called a mobile phone, which would occasionally make an appearance in the common room, to howls of derision from our corner of the room, who were utterly convinced that she was on the fast track to a career on the 1980s Stock Exchange.  Little did we know that years later, we would all be permanently glued to these contraptions, and she was simply an early adopter, whilst we were nothing but a bunch of wretched luddites in comparison.

But what effect are they having on our lives?  I was so attached to mine, that I was no longer noticing things that were right in front of me.  I spend my mornings and evenings on the ten minute journey to and from work, peering into the ever-expanding world of the internet.  I avoid eye contact with anyone on the train.  Why, I could be missing out on some great romance kindled in the fires of what according to Michael Portillo on Great Railway Journeys is one of only a handful of lines paltry enough to have actual request stops.  I could be missing out on some sort of Brief Encounter style tortured quasi-relationship, where our eyes met across the coffee trike at a station in one of the more upmarket neighbourhoods, and our lives were never the same again.

Or perhaps more importantly, I could be missing out on Piglet.

Could I?  Is that what we are doing, us digital millennials, always on our phones, tablets, laptops.  Am I missing out on some vital bonding because I am brexting* like crazy while he feeds?

Today, Piglet and I (and my ever-present mother) returned home from holiday.  For some unknown reason, I lay awake in bed most of last night, unable to sleep (my mother concluded that this was because I have a cough, and not only that, but I “always” have a cough, and perhaps I should “get it checked out.”  I already have a mental image of a GP shaking their head sadly as I exit that hypothetical appointment, and despairing as the NHS crumbles under the weight of yet another paranoid hypochondriac).   This meant that today I was knackered, and also simultaneously happy to return to civilisation (“civilisation” in this context meaning in the presence of a functioning wi-fi connection), and thus I spent most of the day looking at my phone whilst my mother periodically got annoyed about me not listening to her.

Another day spent reading all the articles on the Guardian website, feeling annoyed and angry at the world as viewed through a small cracked screen. Another day spent wondering if I should be constantly at Piglet’s side, guiding him, teaching him, even though he was at my side, and for the most part playing quite happily with his toys.

That is the world we live in, and it will continue to be so for some time to come.  We all need our space, and from time to time, my space is in that small cracked screen.

And I’m sure Piglet doesn’t mind.  He’ll probably have his own before too long.

*This has nothing to do with Brexit.  I am not putting my hat into the ring with that one.  It’s all already been said, the tears have already been shed.  Apparently this is another new ludicrous word hybrid, meaning to text whilst breastfeeding.

A Mum Track Mind
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

36 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    I think its great for every one to look up every now and then and see whats actually around them. I cant wait for my maternity leave to start. I can get out and about with Holly and keep my phone in my pocket for emergancies only!
    Great Post!

    1. Min says:

      Yes, we shouldn’t let the phone take over our lives. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Lydia C. Lee says:

    I write on this a bit – I am quite interested at how we are evolving more quickly around our phones (our attentionspans are shortening, our thumb movement etc). I have seen a lot of neglect and damage done to relationships via SM behaviour and the reliance on the approval of strangers. I’m guilty too. I’ve started putting it away for large periods of time – in another room so I’m not tempted for a quick fix….yet if you are loney, you’re never really alone; and if you’re struggling, there’s always a flurry of support so there’s good and bad with it #Fortheloveofblog

    1. Min says:

      Yes, the attention span thing is an interesting one. I’ve noticed now that I get bored even reading blog posts over a certain length, and articles are much shorter than they used to be. I try not to worry too much about others’ approval, social media likes, etc, but I can see how it could become all-consuming.

  3. I hear you on this, I have a 30 min commute and have found since I started blogging I spend a majority of the time on my phone when previously I would be looking around or getting my head stuck into a good book. I’m quite conscious when I’m with my son not to be on it too much during the day but it’s never far away!! #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Min says:

      Yes, I’m exactly the same. Someone offered to lend me a book the other day and my first thought was that although the book sounded interesting, it would take me away from blog reading and commenting on my phone. Argh!

  4. Min, you’re so right and it’s something I think about lots. I recently having a chat with my girls about my teenage years without a phone (showing my age here!) and my youngest genuinely wished that some of her time with her friends was actually spent being with her friends instead of them all being on their phones. I grew up on the coast and I spoke of beach parties oil the early hours of the morning just chatting and laughing around the fire – she was genuinely wistful of youth spent like that. But, in my adult life I am aware of spending too much time with my head down looking at a screen and not looking up enough so thank you for the reminder again!

    1. Min says:

      Your teenage years certainly sound idyllic! Probably by the time Piglet is a teenager, all will be different again. It’s impossible to predict really. Thanks for commenting.

  5. My journey to work was long but for half of it I traveled with one of my daughters we would sit opposite each other with the small table between us covered in loom bands completely oblivious to what was going on outside the windows of the train, but once she was safely delivered at school the rest of my journey was headphones in and on my phone. I also read FB while doing night feeds once my 3rd daughter was born. I often find myself now when Mimi is busy playing having a quick look on my phone but not to much because if I’m spotted with an unlocked phone demands for that damn pig start happening!
    I think I would have missed the whale too and it’s probably a metaphor of modern life that I’m to sleep deprived to get!

    1. Min says:

      That’s very true! I like the idea of the whale as a metaphor for modern life. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Happy Mummy says:

    i always make sure I play for at least an hour a day with Lily having my 100% full attention and play, no phones no jobs just us; usually half hour in he morning and half hour in the afternoon; I am always glued to my phone during her nap time as that’s when I blog!! x

    1. Min says:

      That’s a good idea. I will have to try and do that myself I think. I am the same during nap time-it’s Piglet’s nap time now!

  7. I love a train journey for reading books, but I guess that’s no more anti-social than being on your phone. The only thing that keeps me from being on my phone all the time when travelling is the fact that I have fairly limited mobile data, so I have to use it wisely. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes, me too. In fact, I used up all my data about 2 weeks in, so am struggling around looking for wi-fi connections all the time now so I can actually use my phone. Strangely, this never happened until I started blogging…

  8. I think phones and social media get a bit of bad press, i am so much more engaged with current affairs than i was, and im communicating with a much wider group of people than i ever would be able to in real life. (and they are perfect if breastfeeding or like me sitting with toddler in dar room whilst she falls asleep!) #kcacols

    1. Min says:

      Yes I agree-talking to other bloggers on social media has been a bit of a godsend actually, especially as I moved cities last year and now have no mum friends IRL!

  9. I’m so guilty of this! It’s almost like my phone is biked to my hand some days. The Kid regularly says “mummy put your phone down” gulp. Guilty as charged. Loved your post and it really has made me think that I need to put this darn device down for a bit!!#KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      It’s only a matter of time before mine starts saying that I think!

  10. So guilty of this. I used to daydream on the train and now I am always stuck on my phone. So much I am already out of data. I don’t think we should feel guilty to provide our kids with tablets and phones. That’s their future if they want to have a chance in life. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes, I’m out of data too! How did this happen?? This never happened until blogging took over my life!

  11. Savannah says:

    Oh man, this is sooooo me! Some days, it’s almost as if my corneas are glued to the screen-and, when I think about it, it can be quite embarrassing haha. It’s definitely something I think of often-but at the same time, it’s also my work. As a blogger, it can be difficult to ‘unplug.’ Oh well, I’m sure our parents had their vices 😛 Great post! #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes. I can’t really call blogging my job, but it is certainly something I want to make a success of, and sadly that seems to mean spending a lot of time on the phone. I’m sure you’re right about our parents having vices that were just as bad, just different.

  12. I started an addiction to my phone when I started Comping but it’s got worse since I’ve been blogging! I have to say during those first few weeks of breastfeeding every couple of hours at night my phone was my life line to staying awake. My sister lives in Canada with an 8 hour time difference so she would keep me awake messaging me lots throughout the night. Now I love to keep up with the tribal chat throughout the day. It keeps me company while my husband is at work.
    #triballove xx

    1. Min says:

      I find the same with breastfeeding. The phone has always been my saviour during those marathon feeding sessions. I know what you mean about Tribal Chat keeping you company. I moved cities a year ago and don’t really have any friends where I am now, so Tribal Chat has become my substitute for friends IRL!

  13. Fab thought provoking post as always! I found my brain is so much more demanding for information if I have time on the bus I read the news, I message my friends I comment on blogs…I enjoy it. Granted it is also good to have time away from your phone but like you its my me time, I can meditate so till the cows come home but I do love scrolling the net, my little grey cells like it too. xx #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      I know what you mean. I think it does actually keep me more well informed about what’s going on in the world.

  14. Haha, I remember being in sixth form and mobile’s first appearing, and feeling really sad cos I had no one to text other than my big sister! My issue is that I have notifications turned on, so my attention is often drawn to my phone, wondering what the little ‘ting’ was about! x #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes, I had the exact same problem when I first got a phone! There was basically no point in having one as I might get a call every week or so-from my mum-and that was about it!

  15. The Pramshed says:

    I am terrible for being on my phone, like you Min I spend the entire 10 minutes of my commute on my phone…..reading my blog, Twitter, commenting etc. It’s so bad. I worry that you I’m becoming too engrossed in it and missing out on time with my daughter. Since I’ve gone back to work I have got better and I feel that I spend less time on my phone at home than I did. It worries me that we are always on our phones what image are we portraying to our children, and with the advances in technology I wonder what their future will look like. Thanks for linking a second post up at #fortheloveofBLOG this week. Claire x

    1. Min says:

      It is a worry. As Piglet gets older he does sometimes now take the phone out of my hands!

  16. I’m such a Luddite I don’t have a phone. That will soon be remedied though, and I won’t be left as the only person sitting awkwardly while everyone else around me is staring intently at their phones. It does worry me that I will become too addicted to the phone and neglect my daughter. I guess you I will have to have the self control to put the phone away. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Wow how do you manage to blog without a phone! I feel the pressure to be on social media all the time, which definitely comes from blogging as before that I would just check Facebook occasionally and that would be it. Be careful you don’t get sucked in!

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