I thumbed through them and then almost subconsciously opened one of my apps. An hour later I had toggled back and forth and around Twitter and Instagram and Patreon and the Weather App and Twitter again. The time had gone as quickly as my attention span.
"I've got to delete these," I yelled to no one. "These are a time suck!"
I implicitly opened Twitter to announce my new resolve, and then got distracted by a thread on mud volcanos.
"I really think I'm going to get rid of TikTok," I told Skylar that evening. "There's no reason for me to have TikTok."
Skylar objected. "No! I rely on you to send me the best TikToks so I don't have to do my own research."
I never signed up for that—to be anyone's curator of other people's content. "I have my own crap to create," I tell him. "I don't have time to become the hype man for a bunch of internet strangers."
"Speaking of your projects, how's your book coming along?" he'll ask.
"Do I really need to have access to my email on my phone?" I've questioned this hundreds of times over the years. I had email for a decade and a half before new mail ever started hitting my pocket and I seemed to survive—thrive, even! I turned off notifications for new mail a few years ago—one of the best decisions I've ever made—but even without the constant buzzing, I still find myself repeatedly refreshing the app to sort and read incoming messages.
"I know. I know." I tell Skylar when he gives me the "you really do seem addicted to that phone" look. "It's just that I know it will be overwhelming if I let these all collect and bombard me at once when I finally check my inbox."
My mail app currently shows 1,026 unread messages. Deleting the new J.Crew ad that comes through really does feel like fighting a forest fire with a children's water gun. What's the point? I ought to give up. Do we really need email anyway?
"Do we really need any of these apps at all?" I complain to Skylar—this is my frequent bedtime monologue. "They distract us and stress us and for what? Occasional entertainment? Connection? Do we really need to be this connected with people? What happened to the good old days when you never knew what was happening with anyone and that was just fine?"
"You're probably right," Skylar mumbles subconsciously while lying in bed and scrolling through Reddit.
I'm fluffing a pillow at this point and getting louder as I proceed.
"I mean really! Has any app had any positive effect on our lives at all!? What purpose do they serve!? Are we really better off in any way because of them!?"
"I doubt it," he responds, before asking Alexa to turn off the bedroom lights.
Then I climb into bed, empowered and emboldened. "I'm deleting them all tomorrow. That's what I'll do! I'll delete them all tomorrow! You'll see! I should have done this 10 years ago!"
I don't get much of a response at this point. The speech is entirely ignored. But that's ok. I'm tired and done anyway. So I stop and snuggle up to my husband I met on Tinder and my dog I found through Petfinder.
Please enjoy this week's Strangerville:
This time in Strangerville, Meg feels lied to at a party Eli graciously invited her to attend, our parents liked to mess with us when we were children, and a woman goes to great lengths to explore the possibility of a relationship with someone she hardly knows.
Egyptian Rom Com, by Annette Thacker
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
~It Just Gets Stranger