There’s a line in Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry that zips around my head when I’m endlessly scrolling through my phone.
“I guess I won’t write poetry. I’ll just stare at my phone for fucking eternity.”
I check my phone constantly. Stopped at street lights, shopping at the grocery store, even when I’m downloading an Excel file. No small amount of time is free from staring at my screen.
I live alone, which means some days are quieter than others. I may not talk to another human being for a few days at a time. That’s when I crave interaction and fully lean in to my phone. It’s my source for communicating, meeting women, my income, and a million other things both important and inconsequential. I live inside my little iPhone 7. I bury myself in its glow instead of accepting how lonely this existence really is.
I’m addicted to my phone.
It’s my drug, igniting my frontal lobe with every notification. Collecting retweets. Swiping to meet my next great love. Strategically posting my best looking photos. It’s my favorite rush and my unhealthiest habit. I need to stop all of this.
But what does that mean for you?
Chances are you’re reading this on your phone. Maybe you’re having a similar problem, or you just want to improve your phone/life balance. Here are the five things I’m doing to try and beat my phone addiction that you can easily do too.
There’s an arboretum in the town where I grew up. Usually on hungover Sundays, I’ll make the 45 minute drive back home to get lost in the woods. A walk through the trees is my panacea for too much indulgence. The deeper I go, the trees get denser, the temperature drops, and the crowds thin out. I keep going until I'm finally alone. Surrounded only by sweet and creepy silence.
That’s when I plug in my earbuds and listen to Spooked. Hiking alone under the cool shadows of towering giants, my skin shivers and my breath shakes. I walk a little faster and dart my eyes around my surroundings. Solitude causes stories of the supernatural to be especially reactive.
Spooked is the spinoff to the public radio show Snap Judgement. It's a weekly true-life podcast focusing on stories of the paranormal and unexplainable. In its second season, the return of Spooked marks the aptly numbered 13 week countdown to Halloween.
The episodes are short — around 30 minutes long. A few stories are a bit predictable and don’t quite deliver that craved rush from being scared.
But most of the stories are fun. They rattle me and energize my curiosity for what we can't see. Even days after listening to an episode, these stories seep back into my brain and ignite my fear. The latest episode to do this, "The Wraith," tells the story of a sinister message Teresa Moorleghen kept receiving from the other side.
I’m a huge skeptic of ghost stories. I think there’s usually a reasonable explanation involving someone trying to capitalize on faith in the afterlife. Google John Edward if you think I'm just being incredulous. My natural millennial cynicism tells me Spooked is just the product of excellent fiction writing.
But I'm starting to think differently. Maybe there's more truth found in this podcast then I originally believed. These stories aren't told to sell books or tap into the fear centers of religious folks. Spooked is built on the foundation of normal people telling their story of encountering something they can't explain.
Regardless of validity, Spooked is incredibly effective at doing what every good ghost story should do. It strengthens a believer's argument, and challenges the most hardline of skeptics.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.