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We Are Always On




The Smartphone Addiction

It’s now thought that there are more mobile devices on the planet than people. UK mobile internet statistics from a recent study show:


  • In 2019, 79% of UK adults own a smartphone

  • On average, Brits spend 2 hours and 34 minutes online on their smartphones every day

  • 1 in 5 minutes spent online is spent on social media

A YouGov poll in 2018 revealed the extent of Britain’s addiction to our phones and found that most of us can’t get through dinner, work, or even bedtime without checking them. This ‘it’s rude not to reply!’ approach at work was drummed into us (or me at least) back in the mists of time when we only received about 20 emails a week and could only access them

at work.


You do not have to be available to everyone all the time. We are all dispensable.


Social Media


40 percent of our social media time is spent telling others about our own subjective experiences – this fires-up neural pathways associated with reward, and activates addiction centres in the brain such as the nucleus accumbens. So we do it more.


At the same time, we are part of a false reality where everyone else seems to be more successful and enjoying life better than we are. This created reality is known as ‘Perfectionist Presentation’ by psychologists who study social media, and it simultaneously makes us feel inadequate and drives our desire for MORE. We are left feeling dissatisfied. There’s an

and drives our desire for MORE. We are left feeling dissatisfied. There’s an

interesting thesis on this appropriately called ‘Keeping Up Appearances’! This simply isn’t good for us.


The Ninetees Availability Mission


I am, and always have been a big fan of boundaries. Don’t get me wrong, I totally get all the advantages technology brings, I just try hard to keep (some) boundaries around it by having a digital detox 9pm – 9am. It’s not easy.

Dr Rangan Chattergee suggests the following:

  • Take the notifications off all apps

  • Switch off push notifications on your phone, tablet and laptop

  • Unsubscribe from redundant email lists

  • Set up your email apps to refresh manually

  • Take email off your phone (work email at least)

  • Switch off all devices by 9pm

  • Have a device box at home for mealtimes

  • Screen-free Sabbath

Not Sleeping Well?


The most important thing you can do is switch off by 9pm. If you do just one thing, do that. Electronic devices emit the same wavelength of light as the morning sun – this is called blue light. If you are looking at your phone late in the evening, you are tricking your body into thinking it’s the start of the day. When blue light hits the retinas at the back of your eyes, they tell your pineal gland to stop making melatonin – the sleep hormone.

Might Miss Something?

As the woke cliché now goes, those who don’t like your new-found boundaries are always the ones who benefitted from you having none. I found this particularly true when I gave up alcohol. Catherine Gray in ‘The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary’ says the ones who don’t like your ordinary availability downgrade, are the ones who liked your extraordinary reachabilty!

She says we have been tricked into a noughties nightmare, a digital predicament, whereby that 24-48 hours totally acceptable get-back-to-you window has shrunk.

The Rich and Famous

Apparently, Quentin Tarantino has a ‘no mobile phones policy’ on set and refuses to have text and email. If you want to contact him you have to phone his landline, at home, and leave a voicemail!

If you are wondering about the impact on your children, follow the digital gurus: Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids near iPads, and Bill Gates banned mobile phones for his kids until high school (his wife wanted to extend it to senior high).

Zoom® Saved My Business in Lockdown

Zoom did actually save my business during the Covid-19 lockdown. My point is we have to control it, rather than vice versa.

Zadie Smith, writing in the Guardian says it all: ‘Do we need the internet in our pockets at all times? Do we need it resting by our pillows at night? Do our seven-year-olds need phones? Do we wish to pass down our own dependency and obsession? It all has to be thought through. We can’t just let the tech companies decide for us.’

Commit Whatever you decide to do, do it as an act of deep warm friendship towards yourself. Commit to it – love yourself as you would another.



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