Thursday 8 December 2016

24 hours: a day in the life of a #digitaljunkie

Published 26/09/2015 | 02:30

Driven to digital distraction: John Meagher.
Driven to digital distraction: John Meagher.

I didn't think I was a digital junkie, until I kept the following log over 24 hours last Monday...

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4:00 I've had trouble sleeping, so I reach across to the bedside locker for my phone. I scroll through my Twitter feed from the previous night and note how many people are outraged that UTV Ireland are not showing Downton Abbey. I begin to feel outraged too, until I realise something: I don't like Downton Abbey.

07:00 Utterly unrefreshed, I pick up my phone and see reams of emails from Groupon, Living Social et al. I read every last one and wonder what 'Shellac Nails' could be and whether such a treatment could possibly make life better for a 40-year-old male.

08:00 I'm making breakfast for my two young daughters when I hear a 'ping' from the iPad that's charging in the hall. It could be something important, so I drop what I'm doing to investigate. It's notification that someone I've never heard of has 'favourited' a tweet I sent a few days earlier.

09:30 I'm on the way home from dropping the ­children off at crèche, when I come to an abrupt and ­embarrassing halt: I've been pushing the buggy and reading a report of Dublin's All-Ireland celebrations on my phone at the same time and I've walked straight into a lamppost. The buggy is not harmed, thankfully.

11:00 The laptop has been open since morning and I've been working at it in drips and drabs. But much of the time is spent distracted by emails and WhatsApp messages, some work-related, others not.

13:00 I decide to treat myself to a screen-free lunch for the first time in a fortnight: I tend to dine while working on the Macbook. But with no-one to talk to, I reach for my phone and find myself engaging in a text conversation with a friend about not very much at all.

15:30 I'm working well and writing fluently, but my eyes feel tired. I've been staring at the screen for 90 minutes without interruption. My phone, which I'd inadvertently put on silent, is full of notifications: missed calls, emails, texts and tweets. One of them is from a friend who wonders if he's done something to annoy me as I never responded to his mail last week. I see a response in drafts: I'd forgotten to press 'send'.

17:00 I decide to take a break from work, and go to one of my favourite cafés. I seem to be the only one there not engrossed in a laptop but I vow to keep mine in the bag for half an hour. The coffee arrives and I open up page 118 of John Updike's Rabbit, Run. The book is superb, but I can't seem to make the time for it. At the top of page 120, I take out my phone and sift through Twitter. People are very excited by a video of a rat in New York attempting to make off with a slice of pizza. I watch it three times before deciding it's not worth retweeting.

19:30 I curse myself for failing to bring a charger as my phone's battery dies. When I get home an hour later, I see a passive-aggressive text on my iPad. "Hey mate, we were supposed to FaceTime at 8 - can't get you." Despite several attempts, and a rumbling stomach, I'm unable to make contact with my friend.

21:30 My wife wants to watch 24 Hours in A&E, so I take out the Updike. I get to page 121 before reaching for my phone, which is now 100pc charged. Twitter is up in arms about Ireland's Great Wealth Divide on RTÉ. I feel as though I'm watching it vicariously.

23:00 I'm watching Ireland's Great Wealth Divide on RTÉ1 +1, but the tweeters have moved on to condemning Aodhán Ó Ríordáin's ­performance on Claire Byrne Live. By the time, I get to see his contribution, I feel like tweeting in anger too. But everyone's moved on to something else.

00:30 Just before bed - and the hopes of a good night sleep - I flick through the top stories on a news site. I'm told the video of the ­Manhattan rat has "broke" the internet. I feel broken, too.

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