With screen time tracking now coming built into modern phones, it’s clear that we’re all spending far too long looking at our touchscreens. Ruby wonders what else she could be doing.

I was confronted with the harsh reality of my phone usage the other day. I finally updated my iPhone and there before me, blinking proudly, was my 2.4-hour average daily usage, thanks to the new Screen Time feature.

When I think about what I can do in 2 hours, it shocks me that I spend that much time on my phone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those cynical should-have-been-a-boomer millennials. I love Instagram, I love Facebook and I love the niche Facebook Groups I’m active in. I love the strength of the communities that are birthed in cyberspace. I love the sarcastic memes and the ability to share stories I’m passionate about. But do I love it that much?

According to my app, I spend 14 hours a week scrolling. Over 4 hours of that is on Instagram. That’s not including the time spent on my laptop, which I use a heck of a lot more than 2 hours per day.

‘I don’t have time’

When I’m feeling down and out, particularly about the lack of “adventure” in my life, I tell myself I don’t have any time for it. I wonder why others seem to navigate the world in a way that makes them seem like they’re floating. Floating through work, through rainforests, by the coastline. Floating overseas and across our wide-open plains every damn day.

I mean, the images we see online are largely an illusion, but the books I read offer a beautiful insight into the world of solitude and adventure. It seems possible, obtainable. If only I could see my day for what it is: full of hours where scrolling was never compulsory.

What Could I Do In 2 Hours?

In 2 hours, I could swim a couple of kilometres in an ocean pool. I could hike a loop track in the Royal National Park. I could skydive twice. I could check out granite cliffs and look out over Canberra and the Brindabella Ranges. I could spend an hour swimming in a local river and another hour napping in the sun. I could go bouldering at dawn at Palm Beach. I could kayak across a lake, with time for a picnic by the banks. I could check out both America Bay and Akuna Bay and swim in secret waterholes under waterfalls. I could build a fire in my backyard and melt chocolate in a banana in the coals. I could check out Pulpit Rock in the Blue Mountains and stargaze, instead of lying in bed scrolling. I could take a walk through suburbia and look for flowers to press between the pages of the textbooks gathering dust on my shelf.

Some of these require travel time, some don’t. You can do almost all of them alone.

So why aren’t I? Why am I double tapping and commenting ‘YAASS BITCH, I’M SCREEEAMMINNG’ with a straight face on a mildly funny meme? Why am I playing PUBG for hours? Why am I watching adventure videos and longing for activities that are perfectly obtainable, even with my average fitness?

Challenge Yourself To Put It Down

Usually iPhone updates make me frustrated. I know with every update, my phone is inching its way closer to another costly upgrade. However, this update had me thankful. I’m looking at those numbers as a challenge, and I’m making a commitment to myself to lower the averages. By removing myself from my screen, I’ll be forced to fill my life with more fulfilling and memorable activities.

Summer is here, and thanks to daylight savings in Australia, outside is the perfect place to be.

Feature Photo by Alec Cooks on Unsplash