Updated: Jul 8, 2020
– 3 ways to reclaim your words
Some days I go hours without speaking. My children go to school and then it’s seven hours before I speak to another living soul. Being a writer is a solitary pursuit – there’s no water-cooler moments when you work from home, all alone. I talk to friends, colleagues and editors, but these conversations mostly happen through my fingertips. I Tweet, I Insta, I email and I Whatsapp. Of course it's all very witty reportage, but it’s also often self-edited. A curated glimpse into my world. With the rise of social media, it’s become the same story in all of our lives – death of impromptu speech. People no longer just pick up the phone or pop by; these things must be scheduled, often weeks in advance. It's maddening. And in this way, many an hour tick, tick, tick, ticks by in silence. Then. . . a knock at the door. . .
It’s the postman.
AND I’M JUST SO HAPPY TO SEE HIM!
I fling open the door and a deluge of words come tumbling out in a croak – idle musings, the odd bit of interpretive dance. . . it’s all in a bit of a jumble. Those many hours of tapping, swiping and typing have left me positively speechless. Sentences trail off in lieu of an ellipsis (". . . "). Where I’d have inserted a perfect GIF, I’ve got to essentially act it out.
So how can we reclaim our words IRL? Well this is what I do. . .
It’s a lockout. I lock myself out of my phone, between 5pm and 7am. It was an easy settings change on the iPhone, I just tapped ‘screen time’ and set a limit. To avoid any unsanctioned binges, I make sure screen time maxes out at 60 minutes for the day.
I just call to say I love you. I now pick up the phone more and CALL. Cos a LOL is nowhere near as good as a real world laugh. Video is even better – it’s so good to see a face and so much easier to avoid misunderstandings.
I step away from the endless scroll. I’m not on social media very often, I spend maybe 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon doing the social media dance and then I step away. It means I may not have an army of followers, but I get to keep my sanity.
It’s a good start. And my real world conversations are starting to get back to normal, less muddled speech moments. As for the postman. . .
. . . well, he’s taken to hurling the mail onto the front step and fleeing down the drive. He might need a bit more convincing.