Aban­don your post

Hav­ing dis­cov­ered the ex­tent of her mo­bile phone us­age, Eve Jones re­solves to live more for the mo­ment – af­ter she’s posted that nice view from the covert…

The Field - - Opening Shots -

A SHORT while back I was trawl­ing the set­tings on my mo­bile phone and stum­bled across a ter­ri­fy­ing thing. My us­age stats. They were so em­bar­rass­ing that I can’t bring my­self to tell you how many hours I av­er­age on the ghastly de­vice but suf­fice to say I have a mat­ter of weeks be­fore my hand ce­ments in a claw shape, my eye­balls turn into dry ice cubes and my brain dis­solves and runs out of my ear­holes.

Be­fore you think it, the en­tire time is not spent on dat­ing apps (more’s the pity, I might ac­tu­ally have gained some­thing use­ful). Nor is it spent search­ing new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, fever­ishly email­ing clients or bash­ing out com­mis­sions. There are some ac­cept­able uses – a phone call oc­ca­sion­ally (what nov­elty), text mes­sages, bus timeta­bles, tube di­rec­tions, au­dio books, maps, columns typed out in the notes sec­tion (funny one-lin­ers in the pub typed out in the notes sec­tion) and ok, yes, a spat­ter­ing of Bum­ble swipes here and there. The mis­er­able re­al­ity is that the rest of the time, lit­er­ally hours of my life, is spent on so­cial me­dia. Real, whole hours per week paw­ing over In­sta­gram and Face­book, in­su­larly, mind­lessly, look­ing through other peo­ple’s lives, din­ners, hol­i­days or ba­bies, then post­ing pic­tures of my own and check­ing who viewed the story I posted last night with ke­bab on my face and won­der­ing whether I should have deleted it (not sure men find it that cute, in hind­sight) while my brain slowly turns to mush.

Phones make you bor­ing, less com­pe­tent, be­cause they make ev­ery­thing so sim­ple you be­come an idiot. I can’t spell any more; pre­dic­tive text does that. I have ex­pen­sive cam­eras I can’t re­mem­ber how to use be­cause I just wag­gle my phone at things and click. I strug­gle to con­cen­trate for longer than 20 words. I even ques­tion us­ing a map without a blink­ing blue tri­an­gle telling me which way to move my feet. There was a time when driv­ing some­where meant read­ing a map, us­ing your brain and hav­ing a stonk­ing row over get­ting lost when do­ing it in pairs, the lat­ter usu­ally mak­ing for a good anec­dote. Now we en­dure the te­dium of Google Maps sto­ries at sup­per from types who keep phones by their plates. “We took the A38, which was a change but Siri told Michael there was an ac­ci­dent on the M5, which took us off two junc­tions early and we stopped at the Lit­tle Chef ser­vices…” by which time you are wish­ing Michael and Jenny had been in the ac­ci­dent on the M5 to save you their drivel and, dragged down to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor, are won­der­ing whether you could check your phone to see if your neigh­bour’s col­ick­ing horse has done a poo yet.

I was given my first phone when I was a teen, the idea be­ing if I fell off a horse and broke my leg I could call for help. We’ve been sur­gi­cally at­tached ever since. The fact that in 1999 you may as well have been in Mon­go­lia as Ox­ford­shire for all the sig­nal you got was by the by, and when I did fall off with my phone in my back pocket I slid bot­tom first from a rear­ing horse, cre­at­ing a per­fect phone-print bruise (but­tons and all) on my right bum cheek. Days later, a horse spooked and bolted leav­ing me sit­ting with a replica bruise on my left, no re­cep­tion and a two-mile walk home. Thank­fully, this was be­fore cam­era phones and In­sta­gram or there would have been pub­lished ev­i­dence. Pre-mo­biles, the 10th Duke of Beau­fort wrote rec­om­mend­ing that rid­ers car­ried loose change tied in a cor­ner of a han­kie in a pocket when hunt­ing. I carry my phone, the equiv­a­lent, in a sand­wich bag, which in the­ory keeps it wa­ter­proof if I’m drown­ing in a ditch but, re­al­is­ti­cally, is a fid­dly de­ter­rent to tak­ing pho­tos to post at ev­ery in­ter­val.

Which, sadly, is the worst prob­lem to me. Not mind­lessly killing time on a phone on the tube, or scrolling the minu­tia of peo­ple’s lives in front of the TV, or even the too fre­quent sense of in­ad­e­quacy that comes from spy­ing on ar­ti­fi­cially cu­rated lives, it’s that the ha­bit­ual need to stop, snap, post, to – let’s face it – show off, be­comes greater than the need to ex­pe­ri­ence it­self.

I re­alised, while out au­tumn hunt­ing and lin­ing a cover, that I was eye­ing up the land­scape for the best In­sta­gram­able views. My horse was pay­ing more at­ten­tion to hounds than me. Now we’re fully in the throes of the hunt­ing and shoot­ing sea­sons, un­less you are one of the rare and sen­si­ble folk who doesn’t en­gage in so­cial me­dia, it’s likely your streams will be jammed with field­sports pic­tures. Au­tumn brought hounds in dawn-pink-drenched stub­ble fields, whipped up gar­ron manes on Scot­tish hills and par­tridge-speck­led skies. By now, open­ing meets and pheasant flushes will have flooded the ether as well. And, yes, they are beau­ti­ful. Yes, it is a win­dow to spec­tac­u­lar coun­try­side sports but the irony is that hunt­ing and shoot­ing should epit­o­mise tech­nol­ogy detox. The ex­pe­ri­ence of the field can only prop­erly be felt in the mo­ment, it doesn’t ex­ist on a screen. For ev­ery piece of field­sport spam that is snapped then scoured, liked and en­vied, and sub­con­sciously banked to com­pete with, its au­thor prob­a­bly missed the mo­ment.

I’d be ly­ing if I said I was go­ing on a strict detox. Tele­phone cold tur­key just isn’t me. But a re­al­ity check is in place. On the few days I am lucky to take this sea­son, I plan to con­cen­trate on the com­pany, sport and coun­try­side, and mas­ter the reins or gun in my hand not be slave to the screen in my palm.

I re­alised, out hunt­ing, that I was eye­ing up the land­scape for the best In­sta­gram­able views

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.