Less appy, more happy

This is a poem I wrote when I replaced my smartphone for an old-skool phone a few years ago after a moment of clarity, when I was out for a nice jog, of how ridiculous and sad it was that I was beholden to an irritating little machine rather than just enjoying the joggy feeling.

The outdoors (and many other things) is better in the absence of distracting electronic devices, and I almost unfailing find that when people leave them at home and go into nature, they experience a very pleasant and welcome Digital Detox.

So if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution, perhaps try hanging out more with trees, wrens or even sheep, and not taking your phone.

Or you could go all the way and get rid of your smartphone entirely.  Life is possible without one… maybe life is better without one!  Unless your smartphone app runs your life support machine.  Just best for it not to BE a life support machine.

Anyway, here’s one person’s perspective:


Oh iPhone, for years you’ve been used as a crutch
But the truth is I don’t think I need you so much
When you sit in my pocket you speed my life up
And the scientists say there’s a chance that you’re nuking my nuts

My suite of supposedly critical apps
Are digital crack
A tempting, alluring and treacherous trap
The thought of their purge brings a panic attack
But I think now it’s time that my spellbinding smartphone got scrapped

It’s no good deriving a sense of achievement
Relying on Map My Run’s measurement features
To pace me at 5 minutes per kilo-metre
As if running slower might leave me beleaguered
Creating the utterly pointless distress
That my Exercise Session might not be an outright success

I can’t help but notice the fun’s been devoured
And I realise, when I’m back in the shower
That my sweet mobile temptress has forced me to hustle
And not hear the rustle
Of soft new spring leaves
Or hear all the robins and jackdaws and blue tits and blackbirds who sang to me as I sped past them perched high in their trees

I don’t care if I hit my Exercise Target
Or if all my efforts were visibly charted
What counts is I put on my shoes and departed
And I didn’t avoid it
Just ran Ashdown Forest with a carefree and unfettered mind
It’s nice to run blind, with my phone left behind
And to find out that when it’s more simple, I simply enjoyed it

And Facebook connection is not where it’s at
’Cos I honestly doubt there is anyone out there
Who’s mildly discerning
Bombarded by updates and news feeds and meetings and unfulfilled yearnings
Who might even give
The most flying of fucks
Or the slightest of craps
When it tweets automatically that I’ve completed a lap

Electronic hooker and cortisol pusher
Get out of my face
You make my pulse race
You stiffen my hairs
You make my entire system think I’m being chased by a murderous pack of wild bears

My smartphone connects me
Streamlined with Beirut, New York and Beijing
And meanwhile the beauty of ordin’ry things
Entirely escapes me
It wildly mis-shapes me
It slips me rohypnol, I’m zombified, sometimes it seems like my smartphone date-rapes me

So I’m freeing up space in my life and my head
Return to the source from whence I got misled
It’s not a divorce, it’s reunion instead
Less apps to addict, hypnotise and distress
My only complaint is I have to press ‘7’ four times for an ‘S’ when I text

– – – – –

In 2020 you’ll find me running two adventurous programmes for young men.  Bookings are open; click the links for further details:

  1. Wolf Pack for 13-16 year olds will be running again after a successful 2019
  2. Odyssey for 16-19 year olds will be venturing out for the first time
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