As the texting-neck, avocado worshipping, gremlin millennial of every boomer’s worst nightmare, it goes without saying that I’m on my phone… A LOT.
I know this. I 100% can recognize the fact that I spend way too much time looking at screens, but a large part of this can be attributed to the modern world we live in. We live in a consumer society, and one of our biggest items of consumption is social media and its content. We are conditioned to believe we must constantly be creating, engaging, liking, tweeting, tik-tocking, building a platform, sharing a message, on and on and on.
And please don’t get me wrong, I love social media and technology. I really do. Social media has been an amazing way for me to express myself and build genuine friendships in a community of people I finally feel I belong in (hey, bookstagram fam, love ya!). It allows me to maintain long distance relationships with people I love dearly, communicating despite miles and time zones. It exposes me to new ideas, challenges my way of thinking, introduces me to new artists and authors and creators all doing incredible things.
But it’s also exhausting. It doesn’t take much for Twitter or Instagram or Facebook to go from your happy place to the seventh circle of hell filled with the unsolicited opinions of the worst people the world can offer. With the constant barrage of horror that seems to be happening every day, it can also be an anxiety-inducing mess as you try to fight your way through it, advocating and speaking up as best you can.
But you can’t fight every internet troll. You can’t create a constant stream of perfect posts. You can’t comment on every person’s status update. You can’t answer every phone call or respond to every text.
And you shouldn’t.
You need to give yourself permission to step away and protect yourself. Everything will still be okay if you allow yourself to disengage from the cybersphere. Your friends will still love you, your followers will still want to know what you have to say, and the assholes will still be there for you to absolutely slay with a perfectly crafted tweet. I promise.
Just like you need to acknowledge and release yourself from toxic friendships and relationships, you should also pay attention to when you develop a toxic relationship with your devices. You should make sure you’re taking care of yourself first and foremost, and a great way to do this is by logging off.
Giving yourself breaks will give you the space to recharge your batteries, and this is particularly important for my fellow neurodiverse fam. The internet and its offerings can trigger so many aspects of depression, anxiety, bipolar, ADHD, etc. It can be toxic to your self-care and state of mind. So, please, protect yourself. Know that you have permission to take days off, especially from social media if it’s hurting you.
What should you do to keep those thumbs busy without a phone to type on?
Romance novels are the perfect escape. When the future is so uncertain, is there anything better than a guaranteed happily ever after?
No. The answer is no. I will not be taking questions.
…Actually, I’m open to a discussion on pizza being a second correct answer.
Romance novels and pizza. Glad we got that settled.
Now, for any of my fellow bookstagrammers, bloggers, etc., taking a tech break can almost feel like a loss of productivity. Your downtime quickly becomes dedicated to liking and engaging with other posts to make sure you beat that pesky algorithm, and not accomplishing those things can feel a bit unsettling. One way I absolutely love to defy that capitalistic impulse to always get things done is reading novella anthologies.
Novellas are the perfect length to bite into, get lost in a story and its characters, but not have to dedicate the +6 hours a full-length novel requires. I highly recommend Where’s My Hero, a novella anthology from Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Kinley MacGregor. Each novella takes a supporting hero from one of their previous works and offers them a beautiful HEA. What’s great is you don’t even need to have read the full-length novels to enjoy these stories (it may add a bit of depth and context, but I promise it isn’t necessary), and you can read the novellas in any order you like.
If you want an anthology that’s completely standalone, Four Weddings and a Sixpence from Julia Quinn (yass, Julia, write all the novellas!), Elizabeth Boyle, Stefanie Sloane, and Laura Lee Guhrke is another great choice. These shorter stories are all interconnected, but still offer that bite-sized goodness that will let you devour them in one sitting.
Looking for a tech break a bit more exotic? Not sure it gets much better than Christina Lauren’s hilarious rom-com The Unhoneymooners. This enemies-to-lovers story made me laugh so hard that I made a scene while reading in public. I didn’t care. It’s THAT funny. Olive and Ethan hate each other, but an unforeseen run-in with a tainted seafood buffet at their respective siblings’ wedding lands the pair at an all-expenses paid dream honeymoon in Hawaii. All the duo has to do is pretend to love each other. (OMG THEY TOTALLY FALL IN LOVE AND IT’S AMAZING).
Whatever your tech break may look like, make sure you do something that makes you happy and keeps you healthy!
Alexa, play Phone Down by Lost Kings ft. Emily Warren