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

Technology, Uncategorized

Concerns over social media curb

Phone for blog

Due to the continual doom and gloom associated with social media and the negative impact it can have, I decided to swallow the pill of reason and go cold turkey for a month.

I am one of the millions of guilty culprits of mindless Facebook feed scrolling, even though I am actively against too much phone time.

Hypercritical I know.

I have also suffered from a toxic mix of panic disorder, general anxiety and depression over the last few years and so I figured a social media cleanse could provide a big boost to my mental health.

After all I have lost count of how many articles demonise social media and find them responsible for the current mental health epidemic.

So to tie-in with Mental Health Awareness week, I decided to embark on the perilous quest to purge myself (specifically) of Facebook for a month.

I did consider doing it for a good cause, but then I figured that I couldn’t possibly spread the word enough, without the power of social media.

Oh the terrible irony.

So like an addict checking into to rehab, I went all in, alone.

I expected the first few days to be brutal. I thought I would have to wipe the sweat off my brow as I etched across the phone screen trying to resist the seductive temptation.

But it was in fact, easier than I thought.

There was no constant desire to check my news feed. No crippling anxiety at not having everything on tap.

What I didn’t anticipate though, was how automated my actions were in navigating towards the enemy. It didn’t even require any thought.

I lost count at how many times my finger came dangerously close to clicking on Facebook during that first week.

Otherwise, it was going great. So much so in fact, that I had stopped using other social media sites too.

But then at around the halfway point, I hit a brick wall. I was starting to get frustrated at my loss of contact with the wider world.

And if only I could say this was a phase.

I was getting quite frankly cheesed off, and this resentment continued to blossom as the days went by.

Interestingly I wasn’t plagued with anxiety or a burning desire to get my fix though.

I just found the whole thing pointless; and it just made me irritated.

I figured that at some point right at the end of my struggle, something would click and I would feel reborn.

Instead, I found myself latching on to other social media sites again and lusting for news the conventional ways.

And this is how my mission ended.

I just had a very small moment of satisfaction for what I had achieved.

What was strange though, is that I didn’t feel the desire to download Facebook again after the month was done; and so I probably went Facebook free for about 6 weeks in total.

I think I was kind of hoping that another few weeks would have a more substantial impact.

But it didn’t.

I can only conclude that I felt mildly more irritated and isolated as a result of my experiment.

I’m sure this will come as a shock to many and believe me I was most surprised.

And it took me a good while to assess why I obtained the outcomes I had.

So if I was to summarise my conclusion in one word, I would say it was down to ‘circumstance‘.

See I work from home everyday, a ‘circumstance’ born little out of choice, but rather necessity.

In a world that is littered with just me and four walls, it occurred to me that Facebook offers me some kind of connection to the world, that I would otherwise not have.

Now it is not to say this is in any way natural, but I think the big issue here is that we as a society are no longer living in a natural world.

The bigger problem that I see, is the overwhelming pressure our society places on us to succeed and sacrifice happiness for work.

Where I feel we have gone wrong, is by looking at our phones for an escape, for all the answers to our problems.

The simple fact that we have been forced to conjure up happiness rather than it being a natural occurrence.

What compounds the problem is that most of us simply look to our phones for happiness; and it is not the answer.

So what I can conclude is that I never really had a problem with phone addiction in the first place.

I was simply using it as a way of trying to conjure up happiness, without success.

Don’t get me wrong I think many of us (particularly the younger generations) may have slipped into addiction territory.

And for those that do, I think the media needs to add some further emphasis on what the real signs of phone addiction are. For example, using phones whilst conversing with other people. Or by turning to the phone as an avoidance strategy.

Otherwise, we are just being spoonfed yet more scaremongering news that will further compound our society based depression.

I’m no expert, but when put to the test, the conclusion was quite clear really.