Lifestyle, Mental Health, New Fiction, Social media, Technology

Social Media Cleanse Diary – 2 Weeks to Go

Incredibly the end is almost in clear sight!

A whole 2 months of my life has been dedicated to the purging of social media and it is with sheer delight to announce that I remain on track to succeed in remaining t-total.

I’d love to predict that I’ll coast towards a triumphant victory in 2 weeks’ time and although everything has unfolded better than I could have envisaged so far, I dare not become complacent.

Once again, I am proud to declare that I am yet to succumb to social media since the 30 day mark; not even for one cheeky check on Facebook.

Although I have found this treacherous challenge easier and more rewarding than I had initially anticipated, I would be lying if I said there has not been instances where I’ve almost slipped up.

As per my previous observations, it is always in those moments of boredom where the urge to kill time kicks in that a strong and almost automatic impulse to check social media invades the thoughts.

Thankfully this hasn’t been too bad to overcome since I deleted all of the social media apps from my phone. This allowed time for rational thought to muscle in.

The other challenge I have found on occasions in previous weeks is a slight annoyance at being unable to utilise social media for some of the usages that are actually of benefit, such as finding out data to assist with my book promotion or to use the Marketplace function on Facebook to help me buy and sell during the process of our house move.

I guess it could be argued that I am now regarding social media for practicalities rather than simply to mindlessly kill time (in most cases). Perhaps this reflects a slight shift in my Psyche?

I guess the killer question at this stage is how do I feel?

Now I have given this thought a lot of consideration over recent days as I would love to say I feel great. Unfortunately, I can’t say this is the case. I think I am perhaps at an awkward stage in my life, a crossroads if you will. But what I can conclude is that I still feel better than I did before I started the challenge. And when I think about how I might have felt if I continued to bash social media during this phase in my life, I can only predict that I would have felt much worse.

I think to truly reap the rewards of not using social media is to give it up for good, or at least for a much longer period of time. And I can honestly say that I would be open to such an undertaking.

Anyway, as my world continues to remain hectic, I think this will be the last social media diary I log before I reach the end.

I’m confident I will manage to stay of the social until then, but make no mistake I will be keeping my wits about me to ensure I remain on the path of riotousness.

Wish me luck and see you at the finish line. 

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Lifestyle, Mental Health, Social media, Uncategorized

Social Media Cleanse Diary – Day 5

Looking back it this time last week…

I made it to the end of my first working week in surprisingly good shape.

I figured it would be most difficult to kick social media to the curb during working day as the impulse often becomes so strong at times of boredom whilst in the home office.

I must admit Friday could have been a potential banana skin as the workload started to die down throughout the day, thus introducing opportunities for boredom to take hold.

I’ll also admit I encountered some strong urges at various intervals, mainly as I craved to find sports updates in preparation for the weekend’s fixtures.

I ended up using social media just the once in the end, which I am chuffed about. I am however a bit bitter sweet about it too, as I felt it was a temptation that could have been prevented.

The indulgence consisted of a quick check on Instagram for updates on the climbing centre that I attend and had plans to visit at the weekend.

My friend had told me the centre was to be half closed due to a leaky roof and flooding and this threw our plans into disarray.

I tried to find out more on the situation through their website, to no avail. My friend advised updates were being provided on Instagram.

Great!

Due to this lack of consideration of those who do not use social media, I found myself too demanding of information to resist. Obviously, this meant I had a cheeky check on my Insta feed whilst I was at it.

As I say, very frustrating. But the good news is that this just ended up being a one off and I managed to steer clear of all platforms for the rest of the day, which was great.

Things since Friday have been crazy busy and so I haven’t had time to log how things have progressed in the week that followed. I plan to post a week long summary over the weekend so do keep your eyes peeled to find out how things have gone in week 2.

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Mental Health, Social media, Technology

Social Media Cleanse Diary – Day 1

3,561 Day 1 Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Let the fun and games begin I say. I have started the first day of my 2-month long challenge with surprising vigour.

This positive midframe and approach has already helped me reap rewards as I have in fact barely touched social media all day!

I have certainly surprised myself.

I must say however it does feel less of an accolade when you consider that I have been super busy with work all day, having just returned from a week-long break on the South Coast. This was further assisted by the fact we had a house valuation after work and lots of household chores to contend with thereafter.

I ended up utilising social media sites a total of 4 times throughout the day; twice I used Snapchat and twice Facebook. Total time spent was 10 minutes.

Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but I think this is quite impressive when you bear in mind that the time spent on Facebook was primarily to post about this challenge.

So far so good and my mental headspace is so far in check.  I am under no illusion that these are very early days though and I know not every day will be cluttered with so many welcomed distractions.

Let us see what tomorrow brings.

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Books, Dogs, Lockdown, New Fiction, Smartphone, Technology, Teen fiction, Teen Novel

Plodding on with my new pooch

Poppy is an author’s pup

How in god’s name are we approaching May already!?

I find it hard to comprehend how time can whizz by so quickly when we have all been stuck in lockdown for 4 months. Perhaps that is a good thing, who knows. I think the term ‘time flies when you are having fun’ definitely does not apply here!

Not to act up like an angry old goat or anything, but oh my days, has this year been a sack of stale cow dung! I mean the previous (I don’t even know how many) lockdowns were painful, but this one has cut the deepest. I don’t know if everyone else feels the same?

The endless days of bitter cold, working like a robot without any play and simply being made to stare constantly at the same four walls have sucked away my very soul!

Thankfully there has been a shining little light that has helped guide me through the dark times. At the end of January this year, myself and my fiancé decided to extend our little family to three and bought home a 10-week-old Cocker Spaniel, who we named Poppy.

Now don’t judge me for following the lockdown puppy craze. I can assure you the decision was a long and informed one. It just felt right!

I’m ashamed to admit I am not historically a big dog lover; however, the other half had a lovely Labrador which completely changed my perspective on these wonderful creatures.  

The moment we first met Poppy she melted our hearts and we just knew she had to come home with us.

As amazing as the whole experience has been so far, little could have prepared me for the extent in which it would turn our lives upside down. I was offered a fair warning about the commitment, but I figured this was just an exaggeration. It was not!

I have not been blessed with children in my life just yet, but I can imagine having a puppy is comparable to having a baby; except puppies also have sharp teeth and love to bite EVERYTHING!

It is safe to say that it has been an absolute mad house here for the past 3 months. Sleepless nights, multiple toileting accidents, lots of destroyed furniture and one major scare which cost us a hefty vet bill.

The good news is that there has been little time to fester in an ocean of self-pity when there are walks to be taken or military style training to conduct.

The bad news however is that I have had next to no time to reflect on my debut novel The Invite, let alone focus on writing anything new.

Now I have finally had time to breath again, I have decided it is time to get back to the bread and butter. And when I look at the continual avalanche of online hate that plagues us, I think getting the word out there about my teen fiction novel has never been so essential.

Factor in the disturbing figures surrounding mental health in young adults, I almost feel that it is my duty to spread the word far and wide about my fictional interpretation that drills into issues surrounding smartphone addiction.

For those who are yet to read The Invite, this debut novel of mine takes readers on a twisted journey with troubled teen Lindsey Hoodwink who is treated to a night full of virtual horrors that tap into her unhealthy obsession with her smartphone. Let’s just say the boundaries of technology and real life, become unbelievably blurred…

You can get your copy of The Invite now @ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invite-C-P-Riches-ebook/dp/B08MCDYPPL

To be honest I doubt there will be a better time to pick up a copy, as I have decided to offer my pride and joy for FREE, for the May bank holiday weekend only!  

So now things start to return to normal (majorly touching wood right now!) I plan to keep on with the writing exploits and although I have been somewhat occupied over the past few months, I may have a little new writing project that has been sometime in the making over lockdown…

More details to be revealed soon.

As an end note, I can’t believe this might actually be my last blog before we return to real life. Do I dare the dream? We can but hope!

Chris

Climate change, Social media, Teen Novel

The silent victim of our online addiction

In the midst of the lockdown boredom a few weeks back, I resorted to mindlessly flicking through the TV channels when I stumbled across a programme that really grabbed my attention.

It was a Dispatches programme by channel 4 entitled ‘Is Your Online Habit Killing the Planet?’.

The programme title immediately didn’t sit right with me at all. This is because we often regard both elements here as two separate beasts.

Of course, we are well aware about climate change and understand that we need to cut our carbon footprint in order to manager it. We all know about social media too and the impact it can have on our mental health and human behaviour. 

Vary rarely however do you see both these monumental dilemmas latched together in the same context.

I’m sure if we all embarked on a journey into our thoughts, we could summon a bond between the two problems, but I’m sure (as I have done before) the thought could be dusted off as being a trivial one. After all there are much graver concerns such as plane travel and gas guzzling cars, right?

Well after watching this disturbing 30 minutes of information it would seem as though we should all be much more concerned about a momentous problem that we didn’t even know existed.

The bottom line from the watch is that pretty much all of us are motoring through a ton of climate damaging fuel in order to maintain our unhealthy habits with our devices.

What is such a big deal I hear you ask? Surely it can’t be that bad if there are less cars on the road and planes in the sky. Surely just a quick peek on our Instagram every now and then isn’t exactly the crime of the century. And when you consider the improving function of the batteries of smart devices, I pretty much felt the same way.

But here is the thing, apparently it is data storage which is the hidden killer!

It is not necessarily the constant usage of the devices which is necessarily causing the dire situation (although I am sure it doesn’t really help) but it is in fact your online footprint that takes an almighty toll on the earth’s resources.

Every time you stop to take a cheeky selfie or watch a video on Youtube, this data is stored and also activated on mass physical hard drives based in giant storage facilities which are powered day and night to maintain that one innocent little picture or load your favourite music vid.

Apparently, there are literally thousands of these machines, under constant strain to deliver our online demands. As you can now probably guess, these things are not run-on unicorn dust.

The documentary highlighted a few disturbing facts which to be honest blew my mind. The first related to our habits with emails. If anyone is the same as me, then you might receive a stack of emails on a daily basis. 99% of which are probably garbage that you don’t even read. The thing is (again if you’re a bit lazy like me) you probably won’t bother to delete them and stay on top of your inbox.

If I now told you that every single one of those (yet to be deleted) emails is stored on one of these machines that works non-stop 24 hours a day, what would you say? You wouldn’t believe me right. Well according to channel 4, that is exactly what happens. I found myself scrolling like a madman deleting hundreds of emails straight after learning that.

The next fact I learned which actually burst my bubble if I’m honest is that working from home, where we all meeting via zoom these days, may actually produce more greenhouse gas than the car drive into work. This depends on the length of the journey of course and also the amount of individuals on the Zoom call. I must admit this fact made me feel sad, learning that the one good thing to come out the pandemic (less car emissions) is actually not necessarily saving the planet at all.

Now I’ll leave you with this one final fact from the show. Apparently just one average Instagram post by footballer Christiano Ronaldo, uses as much energy as it takes to power 10 houses for a whole year!

You can check out the documentary on demand now @ https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/71182-001?fbclid=IwAR3SJGgfdIEz_a4ybqM9hfS4BivW55Z6S5t_oVRSo7NVxjpmlEg0TBVO1bk

This all sounds very sinister indeed I must admit and I’m sure you will agree. But on a positive note, the solution seems quite clear to me. We just need to stop using our devices 24/7. Let’s switch them off for a few hours. I do wonder how many of you will get straight onto the email accounts after this and start hacking away at the mass of junk. I know I would and obviously did.  

Maybe before reading this you haven’t even considered the amount of smart device usage as being an issue. If not, I do get it. It has become a way of life. But you might want to check out my book The Invite to see if this offers an alternative view on things? It is available to purchase now through Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invite-C-P-Riches-ebook/dp/B08MCDYPPL

Hopefully one day soon when this awful pandemic is over, we can go out and enjoy the real world again. But until then I would just try to remember one thing; make sure you use your smart device but don’t let it use you! Because if you do, it would seem as though it is our earth that pays the price after all.

Books, Lifestyle, Smartphone, Technology

Smarten up on the dark truth

Teenagers chained to their phones

After sharing an update on my new book release, I received a comment online that intrigued me.

It was a suggestion to watch a documentary on Netflix called the Social Dilemma.

I was told it would blow my mind… and it did!

This production was suggested due to a strong overlap of themes to my book release, The Invite.  In my haste to find out exactly what these might be, I decided to watch it that very same evening.

The first thing I noticed is that the documentary was being presented by original employees from tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. I immediately thought this was unusual and so did not expect the content that was to come.  

The whole thing was cleverly done and quickly turned from being light-hearted and conversational to deeply disturbing.

The best way I can surmise this unnerving watch, is as a stark diagnosis and warning about our relationship with social media. The content focussed primarily on the sinister psychological methods of social media technologies to manipulate us, the people. We were educated about the use of clever algorithms that learn our behaviours and exploit them to the achieve the goals of the tech companies.  

The key message was that we are the product and social media companies will do whatever they can to keep us plugged into their pages.  

Without giving too much away, some of the shocking topics discussed included revelations such as how your phone knows what you are looking at, for how long and then feeds you info related to this.  

Scarier still, these algorithms conveniently refrain from showing you content that may contradict the opinions/views that you are being spoon-fed. When you factor in that social media sites do very little to filter out fake news, which in fact often enhances consumer engagement with their sites, it is very easy to see how many of us can develop a warped and extreme view of the world.  

There are various key messages conveyed throughout the short film, but rather than verging any further into spoiler territory, I will zip my lip there and strongly recommend you give it a watch. https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81254224

The more engrossed I got into the documentary the more I realised how the content directly mirrored a lot of the dark themes presented in my own book. When you consider my story is fiction and this is real life, that is a rather terrifying conclusion.   

The warning conveyed on my screen made me realise that the release of my book might actually be the most important thing I ever do and is needed right now!  

Thankfully I can announce that my book is ready to make us all think about online addiction. You can actually order The Invite now by visiting  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invite-C-P-Riches-ebook/dp/B08MCDYPPL

In the interest of objectivity, I should say it wasn’t all doom and gloom. The narrator’s believed that it was never the initial objective of tech companies to brainwash society. Like any other business, they just want to make money. It is just that somewhere along the way, things have got out of control. The key message I guess you could say, is that we need to get it back! 

Books, New Fiction, Teen Novel

Get ready for The Invite!

My debut novel The Invite is just about ready to go and I’m excited to announce that the release date has been confirmed as 31.10.2020, Halloween. 🤩🎉📘🎃

The book will be available as an e-book through Amazon and I will share a link to the page on the day of release.

It is only…

2020-10-31T12:01:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Lindsey’s unbelievable adventure is unleashed to the world