Hi, my name is Shane, and I’m a recovering notification junkie.
That might sound a bit extreme, but the reality isn’t too far from the truth – I used to be totally addicted to phone notifications. It all started with the Nokia E63 – a phone that was ahead of its time when it came to staying on top of your various information streams.
I used it to its full advantage too. When I wasn’t posting to twitter, which consumed a fucking extortionate amount of my time, I was getting notifications about useless spam emails and junk Facebook posts. Every few minutes it would buzz and light up letting me know something ooohhhhh so incredibly important had taken place.
Back then though, back in 2008, that phone was awesome. So awesome. The tech excited me so much that I just had to take full advantage of it.
Of course, looking at that phone now, it seems almost archaic and modern devices have left it dead in the water. Of course, the number of things we can get notifications for has just exploded, and I just continued my trend of having them all turned on…
At my worst I was one of those people who was never really there. Messages sent over text would express my excitement for our next event, but when it rolled around I’d be to busy messaging someone about the next one to even appreciate it.
My head would forever be stuck to every feed and stream you could think of, because heaven forbid I’d miss out something.
Funny, because that same fear of missing out on something had me missing out on everything.
The scary part of this story though is that I’m far from alone in this affliction, and it just seems to be getting worse. More and more of us are getting dragged into the abyss that is notification hell, often never even realising we’ve got a problem.
I actually thought I was fine until one day I accidentally left my phone at home. It was only for a couple of hours mind, but I didn’t like how uncomfortable it made me feel and I was automatically checking my pockets every few minutes. When I finally did get back, I spent a solid 45 minutes “catching up” on everything I had missed.
I would never had thought I had a problem until I realised how dependent I was to having it on my person and how habitual my notification checking habits had become.
Now, although I’m far from “cured:, I do try to be better. The only notifications I get are the ones I see as being necessary – call, text and individual Whatsapp messages. Everything else is muted or off. Sometimes I’ll even leave my phone behind and go out to do some bits and pieces with my phone at home.
And here’s my closing thoughts: you may not have a problem, and if not that’s great, but try leaving your phone down for a few hours and see how it feels. If you feel like nothing has changed, you’re probably fine. But if you don’t like how uncomfortable it makes you, then maybe you should asses to see why that is.