Journal entry after exiling social media

Anyhow, here we are. 4:50 p.m. Calm water over there, evergreen woods behind me, picnic table in front. And, as often happens when I try to write, I’m tired (because usually I’m writing in this thing around 4:50 a.m.).

I neutered my iPhone the other day, in hopes of clearing enough space to enable a software update. I’d ignored “out of storage” messages for a week or more until I couldn’t take a photo or make an audio recording, both of which are handy for my work.

When I looked, half the memory had been absorbed by a mysterious force called “Other.” It wasn’t my apps or photos or messages or similar stuff that was taking up space, it was Other, which apparently is stuff like browser caches and cookies and who knows what else but it was the biggest space hog of them all.

In my research I found all that Other may have been caused by a bug in iOS version 13-something, but good news, version 14 was ready and waiting to be installed. The problem was, the upgrade process needed space that wasn’t available because of all that Other.

The quickest solution was deleting the apps that used the most space — Audible, Facebook, and three business and personal email accounts — and reloading them later. A few minutes later version 14 was in the phone, and voila! I was using only half of the device’s storage capacity.

I reloaded Audible and signed back in — gotta have my audiobooks, don’t ya know — but I paused before reloading Facebook and the emails. Wait a minute, I said. Facebook and email are off my phone, and my biggest surfing distractions are not available. This is good, I think.

Facebook especially has been awfully toxic lately. The agents of doom and gloom are in full three-weeks-before-election rant, pushing aside the puppy and kitten photos, and the rabbit holes all lead to dark places — come to think of it, a rabbit hole is a pretty dark place to start with, I imagine.

So I considered my neutered iPhone. It’s a wonderful tool with the ability to connect to the world at a moment’s notice. (I remember the first time I saw the power of the internet — when I needed the stats for Eastern Illinois University’s third-leading softball batter and found them in less than a minute — and that was on a desktop, and nowadays it would come to the palm of my hand.)

The freedom that instant information brings was once unimaginable. But what frees can also entrap, and we can become slaves to the endless stream of information, mesmerized by the colored lights that hypnotize. It takes some willpower to set down the phone and tell it, “Sparkle someone else’s eyes.”

The addiction is tugging at me — “Reload the app and see if your post got any more Likes,” “I wonder what my friends are saying” — and willpower is needed for me to stay away from the App Store and keep writing here — so much willpower that the addiction, instead of something from my imagination, becomes the topic of my writing.

(Stop thinking about it! Imagine something else!!)

How tall would Godzilla have to be to tower over those trees across the river? How big to use one of the trees as a toothpick? How big (a smaller big) to be able to hide among the trees?

What are those bird cries — that is, what kind of bird is that — and what are they saying to one another and the world at large? And even here in the park, I can hear a roaring undercurrent of machinery from the road a mile away, constant evidence of human incursion into the calm …


Hat tip to Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, and Jim Kale for the reference to “American Woman” © 1970 Dunbar Music Inc.

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