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Ditching those gadgets for some crazy cats ... and sleep

I tried giving up my smartphone once. Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration. I actually misplaced it. For an hour...scary times. But at least I know when to put the gadget away. On holidays, for example, when the last thing you need is a noisy notification from the book of faces.

On Monday's Today with Sean O'Rourke (with Keelin Shanley standing in for Sean, who may or may not have abandoned the smartphone on his holliers), we were informed of a recent UK study which found that people spend more time on their hand-held devices than they do sleeping.

Fergal Rooney, Senior Counselling Psychologist at St John of God Hospital, and Vintage and Parenting blogger Ann Marie O'Sullivan weighed in on the issue of tech addiction. Actually, according to Fergal, 'addiction' might be too strong a term.

"Addiction is a word that's really been bandied around quite a bit," he said. 
Indeed. With phones, box sets, chocolate, etc. 
Addiction, continued Fergal, is "describing some 
behaviour that is pretty significantly destructive in somebody's life".

True. But he also mentioned talking to a woman whose partner would rather spend 30 minutes tweeting his reaction to a film after the two have just left the cinema, than engaging in real-life conversation. That's destructive behaviour right there.


When our beloved devices distract us from doing our work, continued Fergal, then we have a problem. Ann Marie decided to give up her smartphone. It was supposed to be part of a month's trial, but now, she has grown rather fond of the classic Nokia brick in its place.

What made her bin the gadget? Too distracting. She could barely make it through a film herself without perusing the actors' CVs online (I hate when that happens).

Sure, Ann Marie needed her smartphone for work, but living without it has proved beneficial.

"It kind of has made me realise that everything is not necessarily urgent, like, it's not a disaster if I'm not tweeting live at an event - I'm still at the event and I can enjoy it and talk to people."

Fergal spoke of how those with self-esteem issues might find it easier to engage with folks online than in the real world. Understandable, of course, but we're forgetting one very important detail: some people are just ignorant. Like Thirty-Minute Tweeter Boyfriend there. Eejit.

Others have the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out - a real thing, I'm told). Wouldn't it be great if we all got over our FOMO together? We could, instead, devote more time to the important things in life. For instance, cats need our attention.

"It's National Feral Cat Awareness week," declared Ivan Yates on Tuesday's Breakfast show on Newstalk.

Ivan gave a shout-out to the 200,000 stray and feral cats in Ireland. This is now the kitten season, apparently, and it's time to "highlight the plight of abandoned, stray, lost and feral cats in our communities, and promote the TNR." That's Trap, Neuter, Return, folks (don't worry, it's a humane process - a programme to help stop uncontrolled breeding). Of course, Henry McKean was sent out "to get the skinny on these kitties."

He spoke to a few cat-loving residents in Terenure (there are loads of feral cats in Dublin 6, apparently). "You never own the cat, the cat really owns you," proclaimed one gent.

"If they're on your property, and they're looking for food, I think it's only reasonable to provide them with the food." Henry was on this man's property. Naturally, he asked to be fed.

Later, we learned of the feral cat trap (another real thing, I'm told). Henry spoke to Gillian Bird at the DSPCA who informed us that feral cats are not vermin.

In fact, they're "great at getting rid of vermin". Gillian introduced Henry to Benjamin the cat, currently looking for a home. "Benjamin's just rubbing up against me there," announced Henry. Back in the studio, Ivan couldn't help himself. "The cat was rubbing up against you. You do like to stroke your pussy, don't you?" Oo-er, sir.


Henry loves cats. "They're a little bit crazy, a bit like a crazy girl, but you love them anyway." What a line. "Liam in Wexford says 'cats are sinister yokes'", shared Ivan. Wise man, that Liam in Wexford. Can you tell I'm more of a dog person?

Before we go, do yourself a favour and listen back to this week's Bonnie Tyler interview on Tubridy (with Taragh Loughrey-Grant). Bonnie's just been added to the Electric Picnic line-up. You see, the Welsh 80s icon is now cool, apparently. Something to do with irony, we suspect. And who were we comparing her to on Tuesday morning? Dolly Parton. Even Bonnie laughed. "We can't wait to come, me and my band. We rock!" No FOMO for me with that one.