A few months ago, I turned off my last seen and the blue ticks on Whatsapp. I had noticed that a few of my contacts had done it, and after a bit of investigation and contemplation decided to do the same.
I’ve since had a few conversations, some quite heated, with friends and family about my reasoning for doing so and wanted to turn my rhetoric into a blog post.
To cut to the chase (let’s not mince words here), it’s a complete and utter invasion of privacy
When did it become normal to monitor when your phone contacts were last online and have read your messages? And what assumptions do your draw from a lack of immediate response? You see the blue ticks, and perhaps that person has recently been online… so why haven’t they replied, right? Wrong. I turned off last seen and the blue ticks because they create an unrealistic expectation that whoever I’m contacting should respond as soon as they’ve seen my message without knowing the context of what they’re in the middle of.
I now trust that my friends, family, acquaintances, humans in the world will reply when they can, when they want… and if they don’t, well perhaps I shouldn’t be messaging them in the first place. I’ve expended my fair share of emotion over texts I’ve sent on Whatsapp in bygone years… those blue ticks almost malevolent as my insecurities go Alfred Hitchcock on me. No more.
I didn’t do it because I have anything to hide, I did it because I value relationships and I’m tired of putting them under the strain of being “on-demand”. It brings to mind those movies of the girl sitting in front of the telephone, waiting for it to ring. Thank God for mobile phones, so the highly neurotic can get stuff done while waiting for their crush to text them… because gone are the days where we phone people we like. shakes head.
Which brings me to our overall phone addiction
Having recently watched a great Ted Talk on how boredom can inspire some of our best ideas, which also discussed how our phones have come to monopolise our attention, I am increasingly of the opinion that we need to take back control.
Ever find yourself checking your phone for no apparent reason? Just the feeling of looking at the home screen brings a similar relief that I’m sure a heroin addict feels when they shoot up. It sounds extreme, but I can honestly say that I’m addicted to my phone. It rarely leaves my hand.
So I’ve started taking measures to protect myself against the ceaseless social media scroll: deleting my Facebook and Instagram applications, turning off push notifications in general. Yet, I still check my phone, staring in puzzlement at the blank home screen and wondering what exactly I’m hoping to see.
Slowly but surely my behaviour is changing. Ahhh, progress, yes. I’m able to focus and be present. Mindfulness. If any of the above sounds reminiscent of your own behaviour, take stock and ask yourself: are you happy with the status quo? If not… do something about it.