social media

A need for distance… from my cell

Y’all. I just discovered the greatest thing ever. EVER.

Did you know that iPhone has a feature that allows you to monitor and limit your time spent on your phone? It’s called Screen Time, and it’s the best digital thing since sliced bread.

It allows you to decide during what hours your phone is in Downtime, during which all access to apps is limited, except for the ones you specifically designate as being always accessible. In my case, those are my Phone, Messages, Calendar, Emails, Music, Camera, Uber, and Google Maps. I’ve chosen to have Downtime from 11:15pm to 8:30am every day, to avoid me scrolling for hours before bed, or when I wake up, after hitting the snooze button 6 times. When 11:15 hits, my phone locks down the apps.

Better yet? Screen Time allows you to limit your daily time usage of any subset of apps on your phone (e.g. social media, games, entertainment, creativity, etc). In my case, I sink HOURS every day on social media , entire weekends go by and all I have done is seen all of Facebook and Instagram. I initially set my usage at 3h45 per day (including Messenger and Whatsapp). It’s been a week, and I have gradually lowered my limit to 2h45 and I intend to reach a 2h limit by the end of the month.

There are a whole lot of other great features for Screen Time, like programming limits for all phones in a family, or all Apple products belonging to a same person, so for readers who are interested, here is a good overview.

I discovered this feature after writing my 2019 New Year’s Resolutions post. One of my readers reached out to me to ask for more info about the book I’d featured, and I was going on and on about how amazing it had felt to disconnect from my phone and read an entire book in a weekend. My reader agreed that her life had improved drastically since she had given herself daily quotas, and shared with me the Screen Time feature.

It’s been a week since I’ve used Screen Time, and I am enamored.

  • My sleep quality has significantly improved.
  • I am getting to sleep earlier. While I am still hitting the sack at around the same time (11ish), the forced disconnection from my phone helps me fall asleep by 11:30pm latest, as opposed to my normal range of 12-1am.
  • Funny thing, I am waking up earlier, around 6:45-7:30am, as compared to my previous range of 7:30-8:30am.
  • The time it takes me between waking up and leaving the house in the morning is now 45mins or less vs 1.5-2hs before. I have nothing to scroll through, no messages to respond to, no notifications.
  • Instead of showing up to the office between 9:30-10am (often having used an Uber to make it in that “early”, inevitable if I am only waking up at 8:30…), I showed up between 8:45-9:30am every day last week, without any stress or difficulty.
  • It is a whole lot easier to leave the office at 6pm twice a week to make it to the gym on time when I am showing up at normal hours. One of the reasons I was missing the gym so often in the fall and January is because I would only clear the day’s “must have” deliverables by 6:45-7:30pm, by which time it was too late to make it downtown for my 7:15pm gym session. It isn’t just a matter of putting in 60+ hours in a week, a lot of my workload has implications on other people, so I have to get stuff done same day or else risk making my coworkers’ lives more hectic, something I hate doing. Our work is hectic enough without me adding to it.
  • I have read 2.5 books in 8 days. I only managed to read a total of 3 books in all of 2017 and 2018. I can feel my concentration improving, and my interest in a broad range of topics awakening. I am learning once again, something I genuinely love to do (#nerd) but had felt unable to do due to my anxiety and depression, which made concentrating very difficult. It is still difficult. I had trouble reading 2 pages without checking my phone last week. By yesterday (3rd book), I can finish a chapter uninterrupted.
  • Ive written 3 blog posts in 8 days. I didn’t do that once in 2018.

I feel much better.

Social media has a long history of making me crazy (IG tantrum with ICB, Beyoncé moment with Beaut). So much of my phone addiction came from a place of insecurity and FOMO. Because I was working too much, and very unhappy with my life, I desperately wanted to stay connected to the world and get validation that people want to be connected to me. Turns out, most of them don’t. When my phone hits 8:30am, I don’t have that many notifications. And that is ok. Because the people I am super close to text/call me anyhow. I might not see them often (although with my NYE resolution, I am gonna work on that), but I shouldn’t fill that void by meaningless interactions. Rather, I should focus on MY life, with MY goals and MY interests. Reclaim my power. Center myself.

(I shared this new development with my gym crew who are fed up of my broken promises to return to 2-3x/week training sessions. They were cautiously hopeful. As one of them sassily commented, “Vanilla, could this be the beginnings of maturity?” Bruh.)

I’m excited by this new chapter in my life.



That time I tried to set Miss Piggy up with Alphonse

As you all know, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog announced their split a few weeks ago. Very sad. But, seeing as Miss Piggy is one fine lady, I didn’t want to wait too long before introducing her to Alphonse – no doubt she would be courted left and right, as the news of her newly single state spread throughout the world!

Crickets, you guys, crickets.

Poor Alphonse got denied. I guess his dating game is just as bad as mine.




P.S. May I strongly recommend y’all follow her on Twitter? She is a font of wisdom and delight.


There is always a charm listening to people discover the concept of Tinder for the first time. Such innocence!

Exhibit A: the Bloggess, misunderstanding a friend’s enthusiastic approval of Alan Rickman.

Exhibit B: my mother’s best friend wrote to me today, to let me know that her daughter-in-law (a fearless woman my age, y’all should check out her incredible travel adventures here) had been reading my blog, and suggested I try out Tinder. Daughter-in-law had “heard it might be an interesting app” – did I know about it?

My Tinder experience

I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with Tinder for the past 15 months; mostly off, despite having a few reasonable dates because of it. Of all the dating apps, it perplexes me the least. I like it since I get less unwanted messages (due to the concept that only people who have mutually liked/swiped right can exchange messages). On the other hand, I despise it and all online dating apps, because I have a problem with the very concept of online dating. I am a romantic at heart. I yearn for a “meet-cute”; either the thunderbolt, the awkward first meeting, or the gradual sliding into friendship and love. Online dating feels like job hunting: I am very skilled at interviews, but have yet to fall in love with my interviewer. I accept the overwhelming evidence that online dating works, but I remain a skeptic.

I despise online dating because of the nasty surprises I discover. Some of which are blatant (remember the Microsoft Paint episode?), and some are more subtle – like stumbling upon the Tinder profile of a Facebook acquaintance, who has been in a committed relationship for two years. Or getting rude messages from guys who feel that the normal rules of courtesy don’t apply online. Or the dudes that use other people’s pictures in their profile (that’s another blog post… it’s happened to me TWICE). There is a psychological burden to online dating.

My Valentine’s day Tinder hack

After my phoenixes arose proudly and I took a break from POF, I decided to mimic Nene’s Tinder hack. I planned it carefully. The week before Valentine’s day, I edited my Tinder profile, so that it only contained pics and the link to my blog. I trolled Tinder, swiping right (liking) as many guys as I could find passably interesting. That alone produced a dozen or so blog views. Then, on the Wednesday, I sent my 187 Tinder matches this very spammy message:

So. we are on Tinder while the world is decked out in pinks and hearts. Here are my thoughts on Valentine’s day: (link to my blog post on Vday rebranding).

It took me about 40 minutes to send that message to all my matches. The results of my Tinder hack:

  • Approximately 75 blog views
  • 20 of my Tinder matches blocked me – I found out later that guys get spammed by semi-pornoesque links all the time on Tinder. Ooops?
  • Several Tinder conversations started up. Unfortunately, the most interesting one was with a guy currently in South Korea. That is the disadvantage of being on Tinder for 15 months: some of my matches are no longer physically nearby!
  • I got asked out on several dates. When I turned one of the guys down, he told me he was cool with my decision, as it was really easy to find fuck friends online. Classy!

The Universe has a snarky sense of humour

Monday, on my way to work, I noticed a guy staring at me intently on the metro. As I left the underground, my phone buzzed: I had a new Tinder message from that same guy who wanted a date/sex buddy, asking me whether or not I had just gotten off the subway. As I turned to see if I could recognize him in the sea of faces, he climbed onto the same bus as me, sheepishly smiling at me. I smiled gleefully back at him, enjoying the very obvious fact that he was replaying our Tinder convo over in his mind.

He got off at his stop without saying anything to me. He then messaged me once again:

I was just thinking how lucky it was that our conversation didn’t turn into a “booty call” or other stuff on Tinder. That would have made it even more weird this morning. 🙂

It’s in moments like these that I just sit back and appreciate that the Universe has got my back.

Eternally hopeful

I ain’t giving up online dating just yet… but boys, please. Up your game.

In the mean time, I’m gonna see how often I can hack Tinder before I lose all my matches.