THE BENEFITS OF GOING OFFLINE
Last Friday, my Mom had all the family over for dinner. In this world, it’s my favourite place to be – her kitchen. I don’t know how she manages it; I get stressed out cooking for my boyfriend and I, kitchen destroyed and sweating by the end of it, but she feeds an army of us. No help, no panic, no bother.
My mom can cook anything, but my God, she makes a Spaghetti Bolognese that I can’t describe in words. It’s so good that I know one day, if she’s not here anymore, it would be the thing we miss the most. It’s not because of how it tastes but because of how it feels. It’s her in a nutshell; full of love, care and banter, and most importantly, it brings us all together – which is hard to do these days.
So there we were, all of us, aged between 6 and 65, sat, eating, laughing, taking the piss. Every one of us appreciating my mom’s hard work: but not enough.
I don’t mean to say that we were ungrateful for her efforts, but as the dinner wound down, the stark reality of today’s society was on display in my mom’s kitchen – and she was so disappointed in all of us. One by one, notification-by-notification, we stopped talking, dispersed and got sucked into this generation’s greatest enemy, the smartphone. She’d lost us and we’d lost each other.
Her frustration has led her to ban all phones in the room during dinner. She’s dead right. This problem is not news to me. I have become so hyper-aware of the amount of time I spend on my phone lately, I’m fully addicted and I don’t know how to fix it. It fills my day, I can’t even tell you what with, and it’s got a hold over me that I can’t explain.
As a musician, I find I’m never truly switched off. I’m always chasing things, always on emails, always updating my social media – always sat with a blue light on my face. I’m always contactable. I’m always on. This constant distraction is killing my creativity and it’s starting to have a real effect.
They say that the best relationships and ideas are born out of boredom – when you have nothing to distract you from your own thoughts. But I’m never mentally bored.
Not anymore. My mind is tired and I can feel it. So I’m taking small steps. No phone in my bedroom, no phone on my walks and the effect it’s had is instant. Eureka moments, ideas, feelings, rest. I don’t want to miss any more real moments and the only way to do that is to plug out. Stephanie Rainey plays Cyprus Avenue, Cork (November 26) and Upstairs at
Whelan’s, Dublin (29).