Over Christmas, my mom and I tried to figure out why, after completing 200 levels, I wasn’t able to advance further in Candy Crush. I suspect that they were tired of my not buying things, but really, we had no clue, and so she recommended Soda Crush, basically the same game with some different weird characters occasionally falling from the sky to say things like “Wow, splendid days!”
So I’ve been “happily” playing Soda Crush for a while, until last Friday, when I was informed that the next level would “unlock” in 3 days unless I paid $$ or plastered my (and my friends’) facebook walls with pleas for help. I chose not to do either of those things.
And thus began a 6 day stretch of something. I won’t say it’s amazing (because really, that word is overused) and I won’t say it’s nothing, because it is something.
Many of you will know this pattern:
- Wake up in the morning
- Bash your alarm clock to snooze it a few times
- Stumble out of bed
- Find your slippers
- Grab your phone
- Head to the bathroom
- Sit on the porcelain throne blinking sleep from your eyes and checking your phone for whatever makes you tick (for me, it’s a morning weather/what to wear report, and yes, I admit it, facebook)
- Grab your coat and stumble down the stairs, the dog eagerly at your heels, nails clicking
- Stop at the door and smooth your hair down because there are construction guys next door and you don’t want to hear them laugh at your rat’s nest ‘do
- Let the dog out into the yard, step onto the stoop
- Pull out your phone and continuing checking things while keeping an eye out for the dog, occasionally missing where she pooped because, well, you were checking things
- Search for the dog poop, finding it every 1 of 2 times, on average, thus making you The World’s Worst Neighbor
- Climb back up the stairs, feed the dog, make breakfast, which you eat while checking your phone and maybe playing some Candy/Soda Crush
- Jump on the bus, grab your phone, read a few arts management blogs, perhaps play some Candy/Soda Crush, and so on, and so forth, with the rest of your day
Subbing out the various details of kids, coffee machines, and husbands, you know I’m right. You’ve done these things. Geez, It’s kind of appalling when I write it down this way. I’m a little embarrassed for us right now.
So anyway, when Candy/Soda Crush went away, something happened to me. I started to consciously put my phone down. I found myself challenging myself to wake up, pee, and take the dog out all BEFORE I check my phone for the first time (still need to check the weather report, because, you know, shoe choices!). Turns out I could do this with minimal side effects. Shocking, I know.
I have taken to gazing at nothing while standing shivering on the stoop waiting for Sadie to sniff every bush the backyard before doing her business. My breath in the cold winter air has become a fascinating study (how do people do smoke rings, anyway?).
I have stared at the ground with determination, plastic bag in hand, searching for the dog poop I missed while checking things on my phone last week.
I have dared myself to look out the window on the bus ride to work, or take inventory of my fellow riders’ hats and hoods. More often than not I stare at nothing on the bus, and it’s kind of nice.
I found myself reading more – that stack of magazines that I always set aside “to read later,” actual long form articles on my phone, books on my Kindle.
I have taken fewer photos of things on my walks, content more to look, and breathe.
And then, of course, there’s Homeland, my latest TV obsession, which, I admit, gets in the way of more virtuous things like reading and staring thoughtfully into space, but hey, it’s really, really good. With no commercials during which to play Candy/Soda Crush.
I watched more than 7 hours of NFL football this weekend, and never once wanted to play Candy/Soda Crush, even when the Colts were busy having their perfectly inflated footballs intercepted.
And here’s the thing. Soda Crush has been unlocked for a couple of days now. And I don’t really want to play it. I’d rather do any of the things listed above, including staring at nothing.
What does all this mean? Probably not much. But my body and brain have felt better over the last week than they have since the leaves fell off the trees. Of course I can’t directly correlate it to the Candy Crush boycott (that would take a team of researchers and statisticians, who tend to be working on other stuff like, say, Ebola) but I do wonder.
So, if you want to do less phone-gazing and more looking around, give your version of Candy Crush the boot and see what happens. I’d love to know how it goes!