It’s a situation of my own making, I’ll be the first to admit. But I have tried to read a book (fiction) at bedtime for the last few nights and just can’t get beyond the first few lines. I’m impatient at having to concentrate for so long and reach for my iphone on the bedside table to check my email/Facebook/Twitter account once more before going to sleep. The book will be exactly the same as I left it in the morning, but the world will have moved on. If only we didn’t need sleep, I could really keep up to date.
I am aware of how bad this is, and it has got exponentially worse since a) I bought a smartphone and b) began engaging seriously with Twitter. My gnat-like attention span has been even more corroded by these two factors, and I have started forcing myself out of the cafe (free wifi) and into the library to work as I can’t get online. If I stuff my phone right into the bottom of my bag, I can usually do at least 20 minutes’ work without checking it.
Like all addicts, I pretend I’m in control. “It’s not the technology itself, but the abuse of it that’s the problem” I declaim, making promises to my future self about ensuring my boys won’t have screens in their bedrooms when they’re teenagers. Other than the fact that in 10 years we’ll probably have screens sewn into our eyelids, I realise what a hypocrite I am – and also how annoying to be with. I would hate someone to be with me and constantly checking their phone – but I have become that person.
There is (some) justification – as a self-employed person, I need to be “out there” promoting my wares and I don’t want to only tweet my products and services (it’s dull and I tend to quickly unfollow people who do this). But this means engaging with other people and reading stuff – and there just aren’t enough hours in the day for it.
But this being unable to read a book situation has made me look twice at my online behaviour. This weekend, at least, I am going to stay off Twitter and Facebook, and see if I’ve managed to finish a chapter of a book by Sunday night. Granted it’s not a very long time (and not very scientific), but worth doing nonetheless. I just hope nothing really important happens during that time. Or at least that people don’t talk too much about it until Monday…