My phone pinged to tell me that my screen time is down to an average 4 hours 15 mins a day. It’s pretty impressive when an impassive object manages to sound a bit sarcastic. To be fair that seems pretty low, but I assume that’s just the time I am spending using the phone and does not account for my prodigious laptop use, which is where I do most of my gambling and watching pornography (and watching pornography can be gambling if my wife is in the house) so that’s another 16 hours a day at least!!! I am saying I wank and gamble more than I do for humorous effect. It’s really only about 15 hours and 45 minutes.
Am I addicted to my phone and my screens? Yes of course I am. Is it to the detriment of my life? Yes, probably, though there are some benefits. Probably. Oh Christ the computer age has turned my beautiful and inventive mind to mush, incapable of concentrating on anything real for more than 2 minutes at a time. I’ve heard that TV companies are now making programmes for people knowing that they will be using their phones at the same time to do something else. What have we become?
And you can’t talk, you’re reading this on a screen, whilst probably attempting to half-heartedly feed yourself or care for your children or check out the racist views of someone you were at school with but feel you can’t readily unfriend on Facebook.
Has the internet been a force for good or bad? Or is it just like all media and forms of expression, able to be used for both? Without the internet I am not sure I’d be a comedian any more. I’d certainly not be enjoying the modest level of success that I am now - I don’t think. Maybe without the distractions I’d have written some award winning scripts or pushed harder to get back on TV - but I doubt it.
Would I have got together with my wife without the ability to contact her on social media - pretty doubtful. I think I’d have lacked the bravery to ask for her phone number and would have just had to hope I would bump into her again.
For the sake of my social life, I certainly wish the internet had come along earlier - the 1990s might have been a less lonely and sad time for me if I’d had the chance to make friends on some precursor to myspace or date people via a dating app.
And as much as I’ve had some annoying and upsetting times on Twitter that made my blood boil or the tears flow, I have made friends on there and been able to harness it to raise money for charity and my own projects (which I suppose amount to the same thing!)
On the other hand there’d be no self-playing snooker or stone-clearing, so it’s not all positive.
I looked after my son today whilst Catie and Phoebe went to two birthday parties. Did I spend more time engaging with my screens than with my baby? Probably a close call.
Could I give it all up? It’s probably now so entwined with the way I make a living that I’d be hard pressed to put aside phones and computers entirely without retiring. I could still make podcasts, but I couldn’t promote them. Or research them.
The ease of research for any project is a world apart from the old days, when you’d have to go to a library and hope they had a book you needed. Fuck my podcast would be difficult to research without the internet. But also it would just have to go out on a C90 tape that I posted to anyone who was interested. And the guests would be my friends from school. Because I doubt Richard E Grant would agree to do it and I wouldn’t have been able to contact him easily enough to ask anyway.
It’s complex isn’t it? I love a lot of the things that the internet has brought us, but ultimately it is going to lead to the downfall and destruction of our society. But if I want to buy a big bag of cashew nuts at 11pm then I can do it (if I don’t mind waiting a few hours for them to turn up). So on balance….?