Online Obligations

Alright. I’m just going to put this out there at the risk of embarrassing myself. I’m not sure if you can relate, but I polled a few of my girlfriends and found that they could identify with me, at varying levels.

I often feel obligated to check my phone. Does that sound weird? Let me explain. Between myself and the three women that I spoke with, I find that sometimes the websites, blogs, and social media that I find entertaining can also make me feel duty-bound. By this, I mean that I feel that many times I need to check in on my Facebook mom groups and show some love and support, stay on top of my friends’ Instagram photos, update my running app, make my move on one of my word games when I think that maybe a friend is waiting for me, and stay abreast of a couple of my favorite blogs.

This is a self-created “problem”, and obviously not much of a problem at all. Really, there are some times when I just want to check in on one of the social media accounts on my phone when I have just a few seconds, but end up feeling duty-bound. My girlfriend brought up a point that I could totally identify with. She used the example of just wanting to go dip into her mom group to get, I don’t know, say, tips for traveling with toddlers, when she sees that someone in the group is dealing with heavy real-life shit. And then, BOOM, you’re involved. You need to provide support. She didn’t mean to be negative in saying that, and I know exactly what she was talking about. It becomes a time investment.

Another friend said that she has to check her choice sites or apps daily and also feels compelled to go back to specific people and search them in case she missed something. This is absolutely something I do as well. The internet has created this second layer of relationships in my life, and I feel responsible for maintaining them and carrying my weight.

Do YOU feel any of these obligations? The kinds that make you sometimes feel glued to your phone, or that you need to check in? In talking to my friends, the biggest culprits were: work email, favorite blogs, Facebook, Instagram, eBay, FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Crossfit WOD, Dailymile, Pintrest, text threads, etc. I know that this isn’t necessarily a real-world kind of problem, but my phone can be a major time suck for me — and it’s not an easy habit to break because of (of course) the fact that I enjoy checking in on my favorite things, but also because of the relationships I’ve formed and the habits I’ve created.

7 thoughts on “Online Obligations

  1. Great post. I can totally relate. Most weekends, even long ones, I don’t check my emails or FB or blogs. I’ll see texts but that’s it. And it’s a total panic attack on Mondays to “catch up” because what if I missed something important??? But at least I feel better knowing that I let it go all weekend. It can totally wait.

  2. Yes yes yes! I also want to ‘”like” things when there isn’t a like button. And I am definitely on my phone too much because once I was writing an actual hand written note and wrote the smiley face sideways – like 🙂 – on a post it!! I also expect my work computer to put in the period for me when I hit the space bar twice.

  3. Don’t be embarrassed, Tara. We are all guilty of this. Sometimes I find myself wanting to “like” something I read online when it doesn’t have a “like” option. I feel duty-bound to show my approval by clicking a button!

    I don’t know the answer, but like any other habit, you can try doing it incrementally — e.g., an hour of no phone, no internet, etc. It’s hard but tolerable. Then you realize how little you actually missed.

    One more gratuitous piece of advice: preserve yourself and your compassion/caring. It is so easy to get depleted when you are already mothering someone — watch out for the type of friend whose life is one long emergency. It’s great to be helpful and to feel you made a difference, but you have to spend your own resources wisely. I found out that if I didn’t jump right in, someone else would.

  4. I really miss hearing news directly from friends. I feel if I don’t check into FB, Eric constantly, I’ll miss something huge and look like a dick for not reaching out. Love this post.

  5. Another example of how we’re so similar. I wrote something about this too. And I agree with you COMPLETELY. Love this post.

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