My name is Sam. I’m 21 years old, a college student and a writer here at StyleCaster. But there’s one more thing that characterizes my definitively Gen-Z existence: I’m an Instagrammer. (Sorry, I just baby-barfed.)
For the record, I hate the word Instagrammer. (And don’t even get me started on the word influencer.) Like the B-word in its early stages, the titles are mostly used in a derogatory context; they’re employed to degrade the people who wear them, as if that’s all they are—and as if it’s not enough. But the truth is, there’s no better name for what I do (yet), so we’re just gonna have to roll with it.
I use my cell phone much the same way any college student does. Every morning, I scroll through one newsfeed or another until my eyes adjust to the daylight my shades unsuccessfully tried to obstruct; I listen to music on Spotify when getting ready for class; I text and call my friends to catch up while I’m commuting; and I navigate the twisted channels of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube when I’m bored. (I’m not much of a Twitter girl.)
My phone is my go-to travel companion, my avenue to information I might need, and my emergency lifeline in times of crisis (like, when I run out of St. Tropez—hello, Amazon).
But I also run this Instagram account.
Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m no Kylie Jenner. I have 55,000-ish followers (which, granted, is more than twice the number of people who can fit in Madison Square Garden). But I still qualify as a “micro-influencer,” meaning I don’t “influence” a proportionally large amount of people, in the grand scheme of things.
That being said, I run my account like a businesswoman. Every day, I receive upwards of 50 unique messages (DMs, emails, press releases, etc.) regarding my Instagram account. I spend time negotiating the terms and contracts of branded collaborations. I conceptualize, shoot, edit and post all my own content. I consult with my agent and mentors to discuss brand strategy and areas for improvement. I travel for shoots and meetings.
In short, I spend a lot of time on my phone.
Last month, I decided to embark on a little mission—one focused on self-awareness. I downloaded an app called Moment, which promised to track my iPhone usage over a given period of time. I chose a week where I’d be in office some days and out of office others; I wanted to see how my habits changed from a professional setting to an unrestricted one.
I figured the app would not only serve me a major reality check but also answer some questions I get from my friends and followers: How often do I post? How long does it take me to edit photos? Do I read all my DMs?
Scroll down to get the answers yourself—and to read a minute-by-minute account of my week on Moment.
Day 1: Tuesday, August 7
10:15 a.m.: I arrive at the office, get settled at my desk, respond to some work emails and prepare for the day. I also turn on Moment for the first time.
10:15 – 10:47 a.m.: Over the next 32 minutes, Moment logs nine “pickups.” Kevin Holesh, the app’s creator, defines a “pickup” as any time your screen lights up for five or more seconds. (You’re probably wondering what happens if you get a text, which causes your screen to light up for approximately five seconds. Yup, that counts as a pickup.) My guess is that these nine pickups were thanks to my roommates—we were texting in a group chat and Venmo-ing each other for the previous weekend’s Ubers.
10:47 a.m.: I use my phone for two minutes. It’s more than likely that I was responding to a text (it’s also more than likely that said text was from my mom).
10:47 a.m. – 12:09 p.m.: Moment logs six pickups between 10:47 and 12:09. As the Internet wakes up, I begin receiving notifications from Instagram. I don’t get push notifications for likes or comments, but I do get them for direct messages.
12:09 p.m.: I use my phone for three minutes, to briefly respond to a text or two and to resolve a conversation in my Instagram DMs.
12:09 – 12:16 p.m.: One pickup.
12:16 p.m.: I use my phone for two minutes, likely to follow up on some texts.
12:16 – 1:50 p.m.: Eleven pickups. I’m popular today.
1:50 p.m.: I use my phone for two minutes—probably exchanging Snapchats with friends.
1:50 – 2:51 p.m.: One pickup.
2:51 p.m.: I use my phone for five minutes. This is when my lunch delivery arrives—I answer the phone, and use my time in the elevator to catch up on some Instagram DMs.
2:51 – 6:34 p.m.: I have an extremely productive stretch at work and barely touch my phone. Only three pickups in total.
“The app shows my numbers in the color green, which I interpret to mean, Hey, Sam—you’re not so bad.”
6:34 p.m.: I got to work a few minutes late, so I decide to stay a little late in return. At 6:34, I pack up, grab my phone and head out. I get distracted by a Facebook message and spend five minutes on the app. I get on the subway and lose cell service for the majority of the ride, so I’m not on my phone much.
6:34 – 6:50 p.m.: Three pickups.
6:50 p.m.: I get off of the subway and respond to the messages I missed during my subway ride. I schedule an Instagram to go up later that evening. I use my phone for five minutes.
6:59 p.m.: I get back to my apartment, flop on my couch and scroll mindlessly on Instagram for four minutes.
6:59 – 8:14 p.m.: I work on some contracts, send some Instagram-related emails and edit some photos and videos, all on my computer. My phone records three pickups, which must have been from texts I was receiving (even though I was responding to them on my laptop).
8:14 p.m.: I spend two minutes on my phone calling Caffe Buon Gusto on the Upper East Side to push my reservation back by 15 minutes—my roommate and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get there.
8:18 p.m.: It starts to rain, so I spend two minutes on my phone calling an Uber.
8:31 p.m.: I use my phone for two minutes in the Uber, mostly to determine why no one’s texted me in 13 minutes. I spend about 30 seconds posting my queued-up Instagram to my profile. It performed at average capacity.
8:34 p.m.: I spend eight minutes on my phone, checking up on my Instagram, responding to DMs and looking at celeb posts with my roommate.
8:34 – 8:52 p.m.: Three pickups.
8:52 p.m.: I use my phone for three minutes to take a Boomerang of my roommate and me cheers-ing to our last night living in the New York City for the summer. (We’re moving out of our apartment the next day and preparing for our return to Elon at the end of the month. We can’t believe we’re going to be college seniors.)
9:01 p.m.: I open up Instagram and spend two minutes getting the perfect photo of my pasta. It’s gorgeous, so I put it on my Story.
9:01 – 11:09 p.m.: We have too much fun at dinner to remember our phones—Chianti Classico makes for a good substitute. My roommate orders the Uber home, and we practically crawl back to our rooms, exhausted by our own capacity to eat for two hours straight. Two pickups.
11:09 p.m.: I’m finally in bed, tired and full of pasta. I use my phone for nine minutes to gush about the restaurant (to Mom, of course) and take my final scroll through Instagram. I sleep. According to Moment, my phone sleeps with me, for eight hours and seven minutes.
Recap: Today, Moment recorded 58 pickups and roughly an hour and a half of screen time. The app shows my numbers in the color green, which I interpret to mean, “Hey, Sam—you’re not so bad.” Normally, I’d be proud of this, but I know that the stats aren’t indicative of the truth. I was unusually productive today—plus, my phone didn’t account for the hour(ish) I spent working and texting on my laptop after hours. Regardless, I chalk it up as a win for Team Sam.
Day 2: Wednesday, August 8
7:48 a.m.: I have to wake up unusually early this morning because I’m working the BlogHer conference with the team. I use my phone for 10 minutes to respond to some texts from the night before, check my work email and take a pass through my Instagram newsfeed. I check on my Instagram post from the night before, and am disappointed in its performance—that outfit deserved better.
8:06 a.m.: I use my phone for eight minutes—not sure why.
8:06 – 8:29 a.m.: Four pickups.
8:29 a.m.: I use my phone for four minutes to respond to the four texts I just received. Why is everyone up so early today?
8:29 – 9:11 a.m.: Nine pickups. These are texts from a friend, Slack messages from my editors at the BlogHer conference and Instagram DM notifications.
9:11 a.m.: I use my phone for four minutes to order an Uber to the conference. (I’m wearing heels.)
9:11 – 9:19 a.m.: One pickup.
9:19 a.m.: I use my phone for my entire 21-minute Uber ride, because my driver doesn’t feel like chatting. It’s too early for that anyway. My Instagram newsfeed is on fire today—pretty sure I like every picture I scroll past. I take a selfie to post on my Instagram Story, because I love my sunglasses.
9:44 a.m.: I’m at the conference, but my laptop refuses to connect to the WiFi. I use my phone to scan the web for news, which takes about five minutes.
9:50 a.m.: Still no WiFi. I’m back on my phone for two minutes.
9:50 – 10:19 a.m.: The WiFi seems to be working, so I don’t use my phone for a while. Two pickups.
10:19 a.m.: WiFi? Never heard of it. I use my phone for eight minutes to respond to work emails.
10:19 – 11:42 a.m.: My editor and I figure out how to use my phone as a hotspot for our laptops. We work and work and work and work, but the connection is still pretty slow, so we don’t get much done. Moment records one pickup.
11:42 a.m.: I use my phone for two minutes to take and post a photo of a speaker to my Instagram Story.
11:42 a.m. – 3:56 p.m.: My phone is low on battery, so I head to a staff room to charge it. I leave it there forever and use my laptop to respond to important messages in the meantime.
3:56 p.m.: My phone must be charged by now, and my laptop is almost dead. Without any electronics, I can’t work—or survive, probably. I head back into the staff room and spend three minutes checking my notifications. Moment recorded seven pickups while I was away.
4:01 p.m.: I pick up my phone compulsively, and check for notifications for two minutes. I have none—it’s only been a minute since I last used my phone.
4:01 – 4:09 p.m.: Two pickups. (Now I have notifications?)
4:09 p.m.: I resolve the notifications. It takes three minutes.
4:09 – 4:35 p.m.: Three pickups. All texts.
4:35 – 5:06 p.m.: Two pickups. Both Instagram DMs.
5:06–5:30 p.m.: We’re in the home stretch of workable conference hours. The WiFi cooperates long enough for me to build out most of a story, but not long enough for me to finish it. My phone records two pickups.
5:30 p.m.: I’m heading out because the wireless is frustrating, and I have deadlines to meet. Before I leave, I spend three minutes ordering an Uber back to my apartment.
5:34 p.m.: My phone notifies me that the Uber has arrived—go time. I use my phone for five minutes while I walk to the car.
5:34 – 5:43 p.m.: Two pickups. My mom is texting me to discuss the fact that I’m moving out of my apartment in NYC pretty soon. We exchange sad faces (:/).
5:43 p.m.: I use my phone for five minutes to continue discussing logistics with Mom.
5:43 – 5:52 p.m.: I briefly doze off in the car. There’s a lot of traffic, so the ride is slower than usual. Moment records two pickups.
5:52 p.m.: The Uber drops me off at my apartment, and I use my phone for 18 minutes. During this time, I’m editing some photos that I plan to post throughout the week.
5:52 – 6:15 p.m.: One pickup.
“I’m starting to feel like yesterday was a fluke, and I’m beyond sure tomorrow will only be worse.”
6:15 p.m.: I use my phone for two minutes. I’m running late to shoot some content for a branded collaboration, and I need to let the team know I’m on my way.
6:15 – 6:25 p.m.: Two pickups. (Responses from the team saying they’re a few minutes behind schedule, too.)
6:25 p.m.: I use my phone for six minutes to navigate the rest of my way to the shoot.
6:25 – 7:16 p.m.: I’m on set, sans phone. Five pickups.
7:16 p.m.: I use my phone for seven minutes, to upload some of the RAW images from the shoot into my camera roll. There’s a lot.
7:16 – 7:44 p.m.: Two pickups.
7:44 p.m.: I’m on my phone for two minutes, swiping through the photos from the shoot. I “heart” the ones I like and immediately delete the ones I don’t.
7:44 – 8:02 p.m.: I leave the shoot—I’m eager to get into some air conditioning and to sit down for a while. The team packs up, I hop in a car and begin the journey from NYC to my hometown in New Jersey. One pickup.
8:02 p.m.: Since I’m not driving, I have some downtime in the car. I catch up on an entire day’s worth of Instagram DMs, Instagram-related emails, text messages and social tags. This takes me 27 minutes.
8:02 – 8:34 p.m.: I take a breather from my screen and look out the window for the rest of the drive. By the time I arrive at my parents’ house, Moment has recorded another pickup.
8:34 p.m.: I head inside and flop down on the couch. It was a long day. I mindlessly scroll through Instagram for nine minutes.
8:34 – 8:49 p.m.: I discuss the concept of dinner with my parents—nobody has thought of it yet. Busy day in the Feher household, I guess? We decide on pizza. Three pickups.
8:49 p.m.: I use my phone for three minutes to order said pizza. Dad heads out to pick it up.
8:49 – 9:06 p.m.: One pickup. Instagram DM.
9:06 p.m.: I’ve set the table (casually—it’s just pizza), and I’m waiting for Dad to return with the pizzas so we can finally eat something. I wind up on my phone for eight minutes.
9:06 – 9:57 p.m.: Dad arrives, and we feast. The pizza is gone in mere minutes, but we sit and catch up for a while. We’ve missed each other since I moved to the city. We have a lot to do tonight—we take off for a family vacation to Bermuda in the morning! Four pickups.
9:57 p.m. – 12:43 a.m.: I shower and start packing. I’m super productive—probably because I’m not using my phone. Moment records 12 pickups. They’re some combination of texts and DMs.
12:43 a.m.: I feel guilty for ignoring all the texts and DMs, so I spend 10 minutes responding to them.
1:10 a.m.: I use my phone for three minutes to set an alarm and do a quick scan on Instagram. I finally climb into bed, and it takes me all of two seconds to pass out—I’ve had a long day. Overnight, Moment records one pickup.
Recap: Today, Moment recorded 97 pickups, as well as four hours and two minutes of screen time. (The app shows my stats in the color red—and that doesn’t include anything that happened after midnight, though I included it here for the sake of clarity.) I’m starting to feel like yesterday was a fluke, and I’m beyond sure tomorrow will only be worse, since it’ll be my first day of vacation. My most-used app of the day is Instagram (one hour and 24 minutes), and my least-used is Siri, which I didn’t use at all.
Day 3: Thursday, August 9
7:39 a.m.: My attempt at waking up on time is unsuccessful (shocker), but I’m only nine minutes behind schedule. For two minutes, I scan my email for anything time-sensitive. My heart skips a beat when I learn nothing requires my immediate attention.
7:39 – 9:30 a.m.: I finish packing my suitcase and carry-on, and throw on some airplane-friendly clothes (read: sweatpants). I don’t lay eyes on my phone until the very minute we’re walking out the door: 9:30 on the dot. Five pickups.
9:30 a.m.: For the first 12 minutes of the ride to the airport, I catch up on Instagram DMs.
9:45 a.m.: Mere seconds after I last put my phone down, I pick it up again for another 12 minutes. I’m bored in the car, because Mom and Riley (my brother) are completely zonked. Dad is listening to Pearl Jam and is totally in the zone. Do not disturb.
9:45 – 10:06 a.m.: Two pickups, both texts from friends wishing me a happy vacation. (My friends rock.)
10:06 a.m.: I spend four minutes chatting with my friends.
10:14 a.m.: We’ve arrived at the airport. The security line looks long, but I know exactly how to distract myself. I’ve been meaning to download the Lightroom app for weeks now, and I just haven’t gotten around to it. I plan to launch a new Instagram theme this week, and this app will make it easier. I spend 16 minutes downloading and exploring the app.
10:14 – 10:39 a.m.: One pickup.
10:39 a.m.: I spend seven minutes on my phone practicing in the Lightroom app. It’s fun—either that, or I’m a total nerd.
10:39 – 11:10 a.m.: Three pickups.
11:10 a.m.: I respond to said pickups. Two minutes.
11:10 – 11:24 a.m.: We board the plane. The process is pretty quick, and I’m already excited to land in Bermuda. I get one text, which counts as a pickup.
11:24 a.m.: I use my phone for five minutes. During these five minutes, I open Spofity, scroll through my playlists, choose one and hit shuffle. I close my eyes and immediately begin to doze off.
11:24 – 11:46 a.m.: Six pickups. I’m asleep for all of them. Oops.
11:46 a.m.: I spend 15 minutes resolving my pickups—both texts and DMs.
12:02 a.m.: I look up from my screen and realize we were supposed to take off seven minutes ago. I wonder what happened, but I don’t care that much, and I use my phone for six more minutes.
“Though it makes sense that I’d use my phone more on vacation than at a work event, I feel like I made a concerted effort to unplug today (especially at mealtimes).”
12:02 – 12:23 p.m.: Four pickups. Random notifications. Why hasn’t our plane moved yet?
12:23 p.m.: I use my phone for two minutes…
12:36 p.m.: …and two more minutes…
12:39 p.m.: …and two more minutes…
12:49 p.m.: …and then three minutes. We’re still on the fucking ground. Something’s up.
12:49 – 12:58 p.m.: I’m not on my phone much over the next few minutes, because I’m too busy trying to figure out why the heck we haven’t taken off yet. Eventually, I learn that a passenger asked to deboard the plane once we were already in line for takeoff, so we had to go back to the gate and let him off. (Which wouldn’t have taken too long, except they also had to find his checked bags in the cargo hold. Facepalm.) One pickup.
12:58 p.m.: I pop in my earbuds, throw on a playlist full of songs that calm me down and improve my attitude (which you can find here), and entertain myself by editing some old photos. I’m on the phone for 18 minutes before we finally take off.
1:18 p.m.: We’re finally flying, so my phone is in airplane mode. I spend 10 minutes playing around with the Lightroom app. I know that I’ll start taking photos pretty much as soon as I land, and I don’t want to waste any precious vacation time learning how to use it. Eventually, I get sleepy and doze off.
2:57 p.m.: I’m awake, but we haven’t landed yet. (Rude!) I use my phone for two minutes before giving up on it—it’s no fun without WiFi.
3:10 p.m.: We land and sit on the runway for a little before we’re able to deboard the plane. I use my phone for 11 minutes to view all my missed notifications while we wait for the green light to remove our seatbelts.
3:22 p.m.: We’re moving, people! I text my grandparents that we’ve all landed safely and that we’re in line for customs. Four minutes.
3:30 p.m.: I forget the “no cell phones” rule in the customs area, and spend two minutes on my phone before someone asks me to put it away. Whoops.
3:38 p.m.: We’re at baggage claim waiting for our suitcases when I realize that the time zone didn’t adjust on my phone. I spend five minutes trying to figure it out, to no avail. For the rest of the trip, my phone is an hour behind Bermuda time.
3:38 – 3:47 p.m.: Two pickups.
3:47 p.m.: We’re in a cab on the way to the hotel. I respond to my notifications, but put my phone down after two minutes, because our cab driver is the nicest human being I’ve ever encountered, and because I want to be present for the first part of our family vacation.
3:47 – 4:15 p.m.: Six pickups.
4:15 p.m.: For three minutes, I respond to an urgent email regarding my Instagram. We arrive at our hotel.
4:15 – 5:09 p.m.: We check in, are shown to our suite and hurriedly change into some socially acceptable lunch outfits. We’re ravenous because we haven’t eaten since breakfast. Five pickups.
5:09 p.m.: We head over to a gorgeous oceanfront restaurant at the hotel. It’s happy hour, which means cocktails, sushi and tapas. I spend eight minutes editing and posting an Instagram from my archives so that I don’t have to post again until tomorrow. (Since we got in so late today, I won’t have an opportunity to take many ‘Gram-worthy pics.)
5:18 p.m.: I use my phone for five minutes to check on my post.
5:18 – 5:37 p.m.: Three pickups.
5:37 p.m.: I check on my post and respond to comments for another two minutes.
5:44 p.m.: I’ve been trying not to use my phone too much at the table lately, but we realize we’ll probably be hungry again late tonight, since it’s so early. Mom and Dad assign me the task of finding us a good restaurant for a late dinner. We spend 19 minutes on my phone, searching for options, discussing our cravings, reviewing menus and making a reservation.
6:05 p.m.: I use my phone to take some still photos, and my mom steals it to snap a pic of me. Four minutes.
6:22 p.m.: Two minutes.
6:33 p.m.: We’re back in the suite—everyone’s relaxing and getting ready for dinner. Mom and I are ready pretty quickly, so we flop on the bed and look at some of the photos we took at happy hour. They’re cute, and we love the new editing theme I’m working on. Three minutes.
6:33 – 7:07 p.m.: The heat is starting to fade, so we sit outside on the terrace until Dad and Riley are ready for dinner. (Somehow, my brother takes longer than I do.) My phone is inside charging. Five pickups.
7:07 p.m.: It’s golden hour in Bermuda, so we decide to walk down to the beach and take some pictures. Two minutes of screen time.
7:11 p.m.: And two more.
7:16 p.m.: Lots of photos are happening. My phone is open for 11 minutes.
7:30 p.m.: And literally 12 more. We’re obsessed with this lighting.
7:30 – 7:50 p.m.: Two pickups.
7:50 p.m.: We head back to the suite to grab our bags and call a car to take us to dinner. I use my phone for three minutes while Dad is making the call, put it down, and then use it again for five more minutes while we wait to be picked up.
7:56 – 8:40 p.m.: During this time, we’re in the cab with another extremely friendly Bermudian driver. We arrive at the restaurant, claim our reservation and are shown to our table. Moment records three pickups.
8:40 p.m.: The staff knows we’re celebrating my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, so the maître d’ brings some champagne. I grab my phone and snap a Boomerang of my parents cheers-ing. Three minutes.
8:45 p.m.: Five minutes.
8:55 p.m.: Three minutes.
8:59 p.m.: Four minutes.
8:59 – 9:19 p.m.: No phone for a while—five pickups.
9:19 p.m.: Back at it. Five minutes.
9:19 – 9:42 p.m.: We’re eating, drinking and laughing. It’s not often all four of our schedules align for more than one meal, so we try to savor our time together on vacation. I manage not to touch my phone, and it shows five pickups. All text messages and Instagram DMs.
9:42 p.m.: The waitstaff brings out a slice of cheesecake that says “Happy Anniversary” on it—how could I not snap a pic? Four minutes.
9:42 – 10:08 p.m.: We enjoy the dessert and finish our drinks. It’s not often that other patrons outlast us at restaurants, but one couple is left when we head out. The maître d’ calls us a car, so I have no reason to use my phone. Three pickups.
10:08 p.m.: I respond to notifications for two minutes.
10:11 p.m.: Six minutes of phone time as the cab approaches.
10:23 p.m.: I use my phone for three more minutes in the cab. I’m watching my own Instagram Story, which I sometimes do compulsively. It’s weird—sue me.
10:53 p.m.: I haven’t responded to my texts nearly as promptly as usually do. I feel guilty when I realize some messages have gone unattended since morning. I spend four minutes catching up on my conversation. As I finish up, we’ve arrived at a beach bar. I hear live music in the distance, and sign off.
10:53 p.m. – 12:12 a.m.: We can walk to our suite from the bar, so we do. I get ready for bed and spend 11 minutes tending to my notifications before passing out. Two overnight pickups.
Recap: Today, Moment recorded 131 pickups, as well as four hours and 53 minutes of screen time. Though it makes sense that I’d use my phone more on vacation than at a work event, I feel like I made a concerted effort to unplug today (especially at mealtimes), so I’m slightly surprised by my elevated stats. I’m definitely in the red. Better luck tomorrow.
Day 4: Friday, August 10
8:31 a.m.: I wake up and immediately respond to some texts. Two minutes.
8:31 – 10:07 a.m.: We get ready and walk down to the beach. I lose my phone in the depths of my tote and forget about it while I enjoy the morning sun. Moment records nine pickups.
10:07 a.m.: I wonder if anyone’s texting me. (They are.) I use my phone for two minutes to respond and scroll through Instagram.
10:27 a.m.: I’m on my phone for 11 minutes, responding to a bunch of DMs. Some are recommendations of things to do in Bermuda, some are questions about my recent posts, some of them are brand outreach.
10:27 – 10:48 a.m.: One pickup.
10:48 a.m.: I scroll through my own Instagram account, and wonder if I’m going to like my new theme as much as I think I will. Four minutes.
10:48–11:06 a.m.: Four pickups.
11:06 a.m.: I use my phone to take a couple of photos. Well, Mom uses my phone to take a couple of photos as I climb a rock formation. It’s fun, but I don’t think it makes me look very sporty. Five minutes.
11:12 a.m.: We get back to the chairs, and I use my phone for 10 minutes. I look at the photos, am surprised by how much I like them and edit a few.
11:12 a.m. – 12:11 p.m.: We head back to the suite to get ready for lunch. We’re eating at the tennis club where my mom and dad first met—the same one where they had their first date and their first kiss. I shower and change, letting my phone charge on the desk. Two pickups.
12:11 p.m.: I use my phone for three minutes, and we head out.
12:11–1:21 p.m.: Our hotel isn’t too far from the restaurant, so we decide to walk. We arrive at the restaurant and my parents admire the way it looks exactly the same as it did 29 years ago. Nine pickups.
1:21 p.m.: I use my phone for two minutes to snap a shot of the scenery. It looks like we’re about to eat on the front of a postcard.
1:36 p.m.: I use my phone for six minutes to look something up for my parents.
1:45 p.m.: I use my phone for seven minutes to respond to a text as we’re shown to the table. We usually spend a few minutes using our phones right when we sit down so we can try to put them aside for the rest of the meal.
1:45 – 2:06 p.m.: We order drinks and food and decide to head up to the clubhouse quickly to see if it remains the same. It does.
2:06 p.m.: Somehow, I’m “on my phone” for 15 minutes. But I don’t remember this, so I wonder if I forgot to lock my phone before I put it in my bag.
2:23 p.m.: Lunch is just as wonderful as we expect.
2:39 p.m.: I use my phone for five minutes to look at pictures we took of the plaques in the clubhouse. One shows my mom and her mom’s tennis victories. The other shows Dad and his dad’s. We text the photos to both of my grandmothers to brighten their days.
2:46 p.m.: We walk around the property and find a giant chess set. I snap a photo (one minute) and play against my brother until Mom and Dad are ready to leave. Six minutes.
2:46 p.m. – 3:42 p.m.: We head back down to the beach so we can walk to our hotel. Upon getting back, I lie down to charge my phone for a few minutes—and end up spending 20 minutes on my phone.
3:42 p.m.: I wake up and check out my notifications. Two minutes.
4:10 p.m.: We decide to get some more activities in before dark. I already know what I’ll wear, so I relax while everyone else gets ready. I’ll change right before we leave. I use my phone for 14 minutes, mainly to scroll through Instagram.
4:10 – 6:43 p.m.: It’s time to head out. I throw on some clothes and call us a cab. It arrives almost immediately and takes us to an outdoor mall. The shopping isn’t fantastic, but that’s OK—we’ve found something more interesting: drunk mini golf. (Which, as it turns out, is basically just mini golf with a bar.) Moment records 16 pickups. Whoops.
6:43 p.m.: We’re finishing up the back nine, and I know I can’t keep my game under par. So instead, I have another daiquiri. Five minutes on the phone while I wait for my drink and bring it back to the course.
6:52 – 7:05 p.m.: The game is over, and Dad rolled an unexpected hole-in-one on 17, so everyone else loses. It’s OK though, because Dad rocks at mini golf. I use my phone for 12 minutes (to check the ferry schedule and then to browse the internet).
7:05 – 7:10 p.m.: We head over to the dock and board the ferry a few minutes early. It’s gorgeous outside, so we sit on the top deck. No pickups—I just wanted to talk about the ferry.
“Since it’s pretty much the same results as the day before, I figure this is my vacation norm.”
7:10 p.m.: I use my phone for 13 minutes because (a) I need to continue catching up on the notifications I missed while mini golfing, and (b) the boat has not left the dock yet.
7:26 p.m.: The ferry is finally in motion, and the sun starts to set. I snap some pics just before the last bits of light fade away. After that, everyone settles into their seats—we still have 15 minutes left. I use my phone for 12 of them.
7:43 p.m.: The ferry arrives back in town, but we still need a car back to the hotel. We flag one, get in and immediately feel exhausted. Mom and Riley doze off, and Dad is being friendly with the driver, so I’m lost in the Instagram Explore Page for a while. Five minutes, to be exact.
7:43 – 8:06 p.m.: The last few minutes of the cab ride, everyone wakes up and catches a second wind. The cab drops us off at the suite and we head inside to get ready for dinner. Two pickups, and then two minutes on the phone.
8:19 p.m.: Dinner isn’t until 9:00, so we get ready pretty slowly. I lounge in bed for about 10 minutes, using my phone before I even consider changing my outfit.
8:19 – 9:49 p.m.: Eventually, I join in the getting-ready effort; we make it to the beachfront restaurant only a few minutes late for our 9 p.m. reservation. We sit, order drinks and enjoy some appetizers. Our toes are literally in the sand, and the ocean is only a few yards from our table. Everything is perfect—I’m not on my phone. Five pickups.
9:49 p.m.: We’ve ordered our entrées, and are considering making reservations for dinner tomorrow. Eventually, we decide we should. I hop on my phone for 14 minutes while we choose a restaurant and reserve a table. I spend some of that time posting an Instagram from today.
10:04 p.m.: When my phone lights up, I don’t recognize the notification. Turns out it’s Moment, alerting me that my “daily stats” are ready for viewing. No freaking way. I use my phone for a few minutes, and eventually flip into “do not disturb” mode.
10:24 p.m.: I excuse myself from the table to use the bathroom. On my way back , I stop by the bar, because I literally can’t help but check my phone. That’s messed up.
10:54 p.m.: We’re finished at dinner, so I open my phone for 15 minutes while we eat the last of our dessert, pay the check and finish our drinks. Sometimes, we end up talking while I’m using my phone, and I leave it on the table while we chat. Then, when the screen fades, I tap it to keep it active. So I’m not really using my phone, but it counts as screen time.
11:10 p.m.: We head out. Two minutes responding to messages.
11:20 p.m.: Everyone’s exhausted. Today was packed. I use my phone for three minutes while we walk to our room. I don’t expect to pass out right away, but I do. Moment sleeps with me.
Recap: Today, Moment recorded only 90 pickups—but also four hours and 58 minutes of screen time. Yesterday, I had more pickups, but slightly less screen time, which means my phone sessions were longer today than they were yesterday. Since it’s pretty much the same results as the day before, I figure this is my vacation norm.
Day 5: Saturday, August 11
9:09 a.m.: Mom and Dad have to wake me up. I passed out so quickly I forgot to set an alarm. I spend five minutes catching up on overnight notifications.
9:15 a.m.: I scroll through Instagram for two minutes to catch up on news.
9:24 a.m.: After discussing some potential plans for the day, I grab my phone and open Pinterest. We spend seven minutes looking up some information about the crystal caves, then decide to head to the pool for the first half of the day. We’ll hit the caves in the afternoon.
9:45 – 11:59 a.m.: We walk up to the pool and begin lounging. Fifteen pickups. Sometimes, when I’m off my phone for this long, my friends get worried.
11:59 a.m.: Two minutes, mostly spent ignoring my notifications and checking out my own Instagram account.
12:23 p.m.: Five minutes.
12:31 p.m.: Nine minutes, while I lounge on a pool chair.
12:42 p.m.: I look at my notifications for two minutes, and once again choose not to resolve them. We order lunch to the pool.
12:42 – 12:54 PM: We cool off in the water, then grab some lunch. Three pickups.
12:54 – 1:13 p.m.: A total of eight minutes on my phone, spread out pretty evenly while I eat.
1:13 – 1:42 p.m.: Four pickups while I eat (and subsequently doze off) by the pool.
1:42 p.m.: I decide it’s time to face the notifications. Twenty minutes spent working on my phone.
2:35 p.m.: Two more minutes.
2:52 p.m.: Ten minutes.
3:06 p.m.: We gather our things and walk back to the room, and I use my phone for the 12 minutes it takes to get there. Scrolling. Through. Instagram.
3:20 p.m.: We’ve gotten back to the suite and started to freshen up. I take a quick shower, and then I’m on my phone, sitting in a towel. I literally refuse to move. I’m so comfy—bye. I’m on my phone for two minutes before someone yells for me to keep getting ready.
3:30 p.m.: Another five.
3:36 p.m.: Three more. What could I possibly be doing?
3:41 p.m.: Three more. Ridiculous.
3:46 p.m.: Time to move—the last crystal cave tour departs at 5:00, so we need to get into town ASAP. We call for a cab but none are available. The front desk promises to call me back when they find one. I use my phone for three minutes while I wait.
3:46 – 4:02 p.m.: I still haven’t heard from the front desk. I start to panic and call again. They say they just found one and were about to call me. Four pickups, then two minutes on the phone.
4:06 p.m.: Eleven minutes on my phone as we wait for the cab.
4:19 p.m.: I use the cab time to edit some photos. I end up on my phone for, like, ever (30 minutes).
4:54 p.m.: We make it just in time for the last tour. The caves are cool AF, and I am definitely posting a picture of them this week (if I can work it into my social calendar). I use my phone for 10 minutes taking pictures and editing them on the spot while we’re in there. Efficiency is key.
“This is an improvement [screen-time-wise], and I also had a really awesome day. I wonder if the two are related.”
5:05 p.m.: My brother and I spend three minutes showing each other the photos we took on our phones. His Google phone takes awesome ones.
5:05 – 5:26 p.m.: Earlier, someone told us about a popular bar near the caves. We head out, use Google Maps to locate it and realize it’s within walking distance. Obviously, we head over. Eight minutes on the phones in total.
5:26 p.m.: We get inside, and it’s air-conditioned. Life is good. I use my phone for two minutes upon sitting down.
5:26 – 5:42 p.m.: We enjoy some frozen drinks, because, somehow, we haven’t stopped sweating yet. Four pickups.
5:42 – 7:00 p.m.: We head back home—we really want to catch golden hour at the beach. One outfit change later, we’re there, enjoying a flawless, 75-degree, cloudless, slightly breezy golden hour. It’s the most peaceful thing I can remember doing in years. Two minutes.
7:11 p.m.: I use my phone for four minutes to determine exactly when the sun will set. We learn that it’s soon, and my mom grabs the camera. It’s Christmas card time. (Apparently, you’re never too old to take Christmas card photos.) I quickly post an Instagram and toss my phone into my bag so we can take some pics.
7:11 – 10:47 p.m.: It’s not often I lose the phone for this long, but tonight is particularly fun, so I put it on airplane mode. We get a cab downtown and eat dinner at a super-casual pub in the middle of everything. We drink, eat, laugh and make plans to go dancing after dinner. It’s so fun I can’t even bring myself to touch my phone. The next time I look at it, we’re already at a bar.
10:47 p.m.: We’re in Bermuda—a whole different country. But there’s this boy staring at me from down the bar, as if he knows me. He approaches me: “I follow you on Instagram!” (Whoop, there it is.) We spend three minutes on my phone looking up his account so I can follow him back. I accidentally quit out of Moment, so nothing is recorded until the next morning. But when I realize this the next day, I work with my family to try to remember the rest of the night, so I can fill in the gaps on this article. The following are our best guesses.
10:47 – 11:46 p.m.: We dance. We laugh. We cry. We have a really, really, really good time. Eight-ish pickups. (Bonus points if you get this reference.)
11:46 p.m.: Another guy, around my age, approaches me. He’s from the area, and so is his sister, who dances with her friends about 10 feet away. He tells me she recognizes me and asks if I go to Elon. Why does everybody at this bar know me? I’m having a blast meeting new people. I leave my family for a few minutes to introduce myself, and then to subsequently make a fool out of myself dancing. Things are fine. I spend two-ish minutes on my phone to follow this girl on Instagram.
11:46 p.m. – 12:15 a.m.: Still dancing (surprise, surprise), but now I’m back with the family.
12:15 a.m.: This time, the people who approach me are two women. We’re all cracking up because my dad is absolutely killing me in a dance-off. I’m ashamed of myself, yet proud of him. One of the women tells me she has a 17-year-old daughter—one who’s applying to Elon. I gush about it for, like, 20 minutes, then give the woman my phone number, in case she has any questions about the school. I spend a minute or two on my phone making sure I have hers.
12:30 a.m.: It’s almost time for bed. My family decides we should definitely head back. (Blessed.) I use my phone for about two minutes to get a cab, only to find a taxi stand three feet away. I hang up, and we wait there instead.
12:45 a.m.: We’re home. I flop in bed and spend three-ish minutes on my phone before blissfully falling into a deep, deep sleep. I’m pretty sure nobody sets an alarm.
Recap: Today, Moment recorded only 81 pickups—and three hours and 54 minutes of screen time. This is an improvement, and I also had a really awesome day. I wonder if the two are related.
Day 6: Sunday, August 12
10:40 a.m.: By the time I get up, everyone else seems to be awake already—though they’re moving pretty slowly. We decide to rent motorbikes (for later use) and chill by the pool. I spend one minute on my phone scrolling through my notifications, but that’s it.
11:46 a.m.: At the motorbike rental place, we sign some paperwork, grab some bikes and practice riding them. Nobody seems confident in our motorbike skills—including the rental staff. I use my phone for nine minutes, mostly to send some “I love you” texts to my grandparents. (Just in case.)
11:46 a.m. – 12:16 p.m.: We head to the pool. It’s a beautiful day, and my hangover’s making me hungry. Looking at my phone makes me nauseous. Two pickups.
12:16 p.m.: We order some food to the chairs (plus, like, three gallons of water), and while we wait, we catch up on our phones. Ten minutes for me.
12:26 p.m.: The food arrives, and it’s beautiful. Wings, burgers, flatbreads and french fries. I use my phone for four minutes to snap an Instagram Story of the spread.
12:26 – 12:37 p.m.: We feast. Four pickups—all responses to my food snaps.
12:37 – 1:12 p.m.: More feasting, plus four pickups.
1:24 p.m.: We’re done eating, and we feel much better. I peek at my phone and realize I have a few people to respond to. Moment logs 12 minutes.
1:38 p.m.: I use my phone for another two minutes before taking a dip in the pool.
1:38 – 2:38 p.m.: I let the chlorine wash away the memories of all those vodka Red Bulls. Six pickups.
2:38 p.m.: I emerge from the water and use my phone for two minutes to send some messages on Instagram.
3:05 p.m.: I get a notification that says I should post an Instagram right now—based on my engagement history, this is a good time to do it. I choose one from Friday, and it performs. Two minutes.
3:11 p.m.: I spend 14 minutes responding to comments and DMs, as well as scrolling through my newsfeed to catch up.
3:33 p.m.: I love this pool, but I hate push notifications. I guess if I’m sitting here I might as well be productive. Twenty-four minutes.
3:33 – 4:35 p.m.: Maybe my long phone streak satisfied people. Only one pickup.
4:56 – 5:31 p.m.: We head back to the suite, shower, throw on some real-people clothes and hop on the motorbikes. We ride them to a mini-hike that will eventually lead us to the top of the world. Seven pickups.
5:31 p.m.: The view from the top of this hike is unbelievable. It looks like a movie set. I pull out my phone to snap a photo or two. Two minutes of screen time.
“I definitely used my phone more today than I did yesterday, but I forgive myself—I was hungover all morning. Who can blame me?”
5:42 p.m.: While I’m snapping photos, I notice the notification buildup on my lock screen. On the walk down, I try to resolve the easy ones, so I don’t get too far behind. Two minutes.
5:42 – 6:53 p.m.: We ride to another little beach, enjoy the views and hop back on the bikes to our next destination—Horseshoe Bay. It’s beautiful (duh). Then we make it to our final destination, a gorge white lighthouse. Ten pickups in total.
6:53 p.m.: I take a panoramic video of the view from the lighthouse (one minute), and then scroll through all my photos and videos from the trip so far. So many times this week, Bermuda has taken my breath away. Nine minutes.
7:17 p.m.: We’re back in the room, getting ready for dinner. I use my phone for two minutes to resolve random notifications.
7:24 – 7:49 p.m.: We decide to head out for the restaurant early, to catch the sunset (our reservation is for 9:00). Dad calls a cab, and we arrive just in time. Seventeen minutes on the phone in total.
8:05 – 8:50 p.m.: We watch the sunset, grab a drink at the bar and are shown to our table a few minutes early. Six pickups.
8:50 – 9:36 p.m.: We eat dinner in yet another beautiful place. The food is delicious, and I hardly even think about my phone. Four pickups.
9:48 p.m.: Checking out my Instagram again. Two minutes.
9:52 p.m.: When our entrées are cleared, I excuse myself to use the bathroom. I bring my purse and use my phone in the lounge to check up on my messages before I return to the table. Two more minutes.
10:09 – 10:30 p.m.: We order and eat dessert (a selection of mini ice cream cones that I can’t believe I didn’t photograph, despite a few more minutes of active screen time). We use my phone to look up some information that will help settle a silly debate we’re having.
10:36 p.m.: We head out of the restaurant, and a shuttle takes us to the main hotel, where the concierge will call us a cab back to our hotel. I use my phone for three minutes to check on my latest post.
10:41 p.m.: Seventeen minutes of… I’m honestly not sure.
11:01 p.m.: The taxi picks us up, and during the ride, I use my phone. My brother has passed out, Mom is half-asleep and Dad is chatting with the driver. I scroll on Instagram to catch up on celeb news and my friends’ lives. Thirty-seven minutes of my life. I can hardly believe I looked at my phone for that long.
11:41 p.m.: We arrive back at the hotel. Another busy day. Nine minutes before bedtime.
Recap: Today, Moment recorded 93 pickups—plus four hours and 43 minutes of screen time. I definitely used my phone more today than I did yesterday, but I forgive myself—I was hungover all morning. Who can blame me? I’m certain tomorrow will be worse, because we’re flying home, and I forgot to bring a book. (In other words, I’ll be spending the entire day on my phone.)
Day 7: Monday, August 13
9:09 a.m.: I wake up and can’t fall back asleep, so I scroll around on my phone for nine minutes. Then I lie in bed until everyone else wakes up.
9:26 a.m.: We get out of bed and begin to pack our things. Our flight is delayed. We’re thrilled—let’s eat! I use my phone for two minutes to check my email.
10:14 a.m.: We return the motorbikes to the rental place—but not before snapping a photo. Two minutes.
10:14 – 10:35 a.m.: We head back to the room to throw on some swimwear. Since our flight is delayed, we have some time to chill. One pickup.
10:35 – 11:45 a.m.: We head down to the beach and relax for a while. Eventually, we can’t bear the heat and opt to return to the air-conditioning. We have to check out soon, anyway. Eighteen minutes and three pickups, in total.
11:45 a.m.: We chill in the suite until someone comes for our bags—we’re going to leave them at the hotel while we get lunch and then grab them on our way out. I use my phone for seven minutes.
11:45 a.m. – 12:37 a.m.: Someone comes to grab our bags, which means we’re good to go. Thank goodness—we’re ravenous. We order a cab and it takes us into town so we can eat some lunch. I spend almost the entire time on my phone, which, in retrospect, is a little sickening.
12:37 p.m.: We sit in the restaurant and everybody takes a few minutes to themselves for phone time—this way, we can all be present during the meal. Mom and I are exceptions today, because we’re getting status updates about the flight.
12:37 – 1:44 p.m.: We enjoy our lunch, and my phone is active pretty much the entire time, so we can receive status updates in real-time from the airline. We learn that our flight is taking off earlier than expected. (Although we were kind of hoping we’d get stuck in Bermuda.) We hop in a cab and race to the hotel.
2:12 p.m.: We’re back at the hotel grabbing our bags, and the cab driver is kind enough to wait for us, so he can take us to the airport next. I use my phone for 18 minutes during the transfer.
2:12 – 2:39 p.m.: Another friendly cab driver. I love it here. We all chat and giggle about how wonderful it would’ve been if we got stuck in Bermuda. Two pickups. Eventually, my phone distracts me.
2:39 p.m.: I use my phone for three minutes to use my work email.
2:57 – 4:02 p.m.: We arrive at the airport, go through customs and security, and find our gate. Four pickups and 18 minutes in total.
“Today, Moment logged only 93 pickups, but a whopping seven hours and 22 minutes of screen time. I could die of embarrassment.”
4:02 – 4:53 p.m.: We hang out at the gate—I use this time to get work done. I make some progress on this article, respond to all my emails and plan out my next two weeks in my trusty agenda. Since I’m using my computer, I get a lot of my notifications sent there instead of my phone. Moment records very few pickups, because I’m resolving most of my notifications on my laptop. But I still spend 17 minutes on my phone during this time.
4:53 p.m.: Are we ever going to board this plane??? Dad is borrowing my laptop, so I move all my assignments to my phone. It’s a lot slower, but we only brought one computer, so we have to share. I spend over an hour on my phone, writing part of this article.
5:56 – 8:06 p.m.: Honestly, I can’t even tell you what happens during these few hours—I think my brain is blocking them out. All I know for sure is that we board the plane, sit on it for a while, and fly. I don’t buy in-flight WiFi, but like I said—I forgot my book. So I spend the relatively short flight editing photos, playing solitaire (on my phone) and listening to Spotify. We land around 7:30, but don’t get off the plane until 8:00-ish, so I spent two full hours on my phone. (Yikes.)
8:06 – 8:36 p.m.: We head over to baggage claim, grab our luggage and find the car. Notifications are pouring in, since I couldn’t access them on the flight. Ten pickups.
8:36 p.m.: In the car, I use my phone for 29 more minutes. I cannot imagine what the heck I could possibly be looking at after a flight full of screen time—except maybe all the messages I missed in airplane mode.
9:16 p.m.: We arrive at our go-to restaurant in my hometown. It’s two minutes away from the house, so we basically live there. We all use our phones to catch up on work stuff. Eight minutes.
9:26 p.m.: After ordering drinks, I hop onto my phone for two minutes to post a picture of that giant chess set we’d seen earlier.
9:26 – 10:12 p.m.: Another meal. We are blessed. Twenty-seven minutes on my phone, but I can explain—Nana had met us at the restaurant, and we spent the entire meal scrolling through photos from the trip on my phone. So it was basically the whole point of conversation.
10:12 – 10:51 p.m.: I accidentally close out of Moment, but I don’t want to keep getting notifications from it, because I feel sick about how much I used my phone this week. I just want it to stop. I jot down notes about my phone usage for the rest of my night to stay on track. The following information is taken from my notes.
10:51 p.m.: We pay the check and head home to greet our sweet pup, and to go TF to bed. We’re a hot mess. I use my phone for the two-ish minutes we’re in the car.
11:16 p.m.: I scroll on Instagram before bed and close out some conversations from earlier that day. This girl’s gotta sleep.
Recap: Today, Moment logged only 93 pickups, but a whopping seven hours and 22 minutes of screen time. I could die of embarrassment. If I didn’t have the traveling excuse, I wouldn’t even be telling you guys this. Of that time, I spend the most on Instagram: two hours and 34 minutes.
Day 8: Tuesday, August 14
7:25 a.m.: Since I started this whole project when I got into the office last Tuesday, I decide to keep it going until I get into the office this Tuesday. I wake up and scroll for three minutes.
7:25 – 8:40 a.m.: I open up Moment again, because I’m ready to face the day. I get ready for work and head to the train station to catch the train from my hometown back into the city. Four pickups.
8:40 a.m.: I board the train and use my phone to catch up on messages and emails before work—I’ve been out of that mind-set for too long. Eighteen minutes.
8:40 – 9:13 a.m.: Four pickups.
9:13 a.m.: We’re about to pull into the station, so I resolve my notifications again before I have to get off. They end up being notifications that require a lot of attention. Another 18 minutes.
9:13 – 10:42 a.m.: I de-board the train, walk to the office and get a start on my day. In total, I spend two minutes on my phone. Moment logs 14 pickups.
10:42 a.m.: My work here is done. I spend three minutes deactivating the Moment app so it stops tracking my progress, and I hold onto the stats so I can analyze them later. I breathe a sigh of relief.
Over the last week, I picked up my phone 650 times and spent more than 32 hours staring at it. While the number of “pickups” I recorded didn’t surprise me too much (because, don’t forget—you don’t always have to use your phone to get a pickup), the 32-hour thing makes me want to cry.
I have some serious reality-checking to do. Regardless of my following on Instagram, I don’t think it’s practical, healthy or smart to spend more than one-seventh of my life staring at a screen—and that doesn’t even count my laptop.
This experience has definitely been eye-opening. But for now, I think I’ll close them for a while.