Chronically Online

A College Grad Attending Eras Tour Tracks Her Screen Time For 1 Week

Uber was my enemy, TikTok was my vice, and Messages was my savior.

by Jess Ferguson
Originally Published: 
Elite Daily; Courtesy of Jess Ferguson

In Chronically Online, Elite Daily asks people to get real about their phone habits, tracking their screen time over the course of a week. This week, BDG editorial intern Jess Ferguson, who this week graduated college and attended Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, shares the apps she used, the time she spent scrolling, and the Internet rabbit holes she went all the way down.

When I was in high school, I once went one month without even seeing my phone. My friends and I made a documentary about the alarming rate at which phones have become a part of our lives (which has only increased in the five years since we made it). We wanted to do a social experiment, so we locked away our phones in a briefcase in our film teacher’s classroom. Text messages became emails, and nighttime doom-scrolling rituals became reading. Overall, the month honestly wasn’t too bad. (But had TikTok been around, I think I’d feel differently.)

While that month was a refreshing detox, my phone use slipped back to how it was before, only I became hyper-aware and had guilt about how much I was on my phone. I have made some changes, though. In the past year, I’ve set up one-hour screen time limits on my most-used apps — TikTok and Instagram — to prevent me from spending hours on end on them, but sometimes I bypass the reminders with the touch of a button. This week, I found myself occasionally ignoring the time limit, like on Tuesday (my highest screen time day) when I made an Instagram post.

I wanted to track my screen time to become a little more self-aware of my phone usage. I always joke that I’m chronically online, but do the numbers actually reflect that? This week started with my graduation from Emerson College and ended with seeing Taylor Swift on the Eras Tour, two of the most significant events this year. Uber was my enemy, TikTok was my vice, and Messages was my savior.

Occupation: Editorial Intern, BDG

Age: 22

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Weekly Average (May 14-May 20): 5 hours, 1 minute

Day 1: My College Graduation, A *Long* Day

I woke up bright and early Sunday morning (6 a.m., like my high school days) to get ready for my college commencement. After rushing to get into the building, checking in, and finding my place in line, the long wait began. I stood in my designated spot for more than an hour and a half until we began our walk into the ceremony. Naturally, in between reunions with some friends I haven’t seen since I finished classes in December, I spent some time on my phone. I texted my family, making sure they got prime seating to watch me cross the stage. After the ceremony (and a couple of spiked iced coffees at my family’s post-grad brunch), I scrolled Instagram to look at all the grad posts and comment some variation of “slayyyy” on them. Later that night, my sister and I tuned in to one of the final Succession Sundays ever. After the episode was over, I did my ritualistic scroll through Twitter to read the discourse on the episode and watch the preview for the following week on repeat to pick up any hidden details.

Most-Used Apps: Messages, Instagram, Twitter

Screen Time: 4 hours, 53 minutes

Day 2: Obsessively Checking Uber & A Night Out

My biggest supporters — aside from my family and best friends — are my parents’ Facebook friends. Every time a pic of me is posted, whether it’s my birthday or, like this week, my graduation, I get an ego boost from the flood of comments showering me with compliments and well-wishes. Does that make me a narcissist? I don’t care. I spent a chunk of time scrolling through the comments from my adoring fans and, of course, liking each one.

Then, after work, I went out for dinner and drinks in Boston to send off some of my college friends before they flew home. I ran late for our dinner reservations and forgot that on top of rush hour traffic, the Red Sox were also playing that night, so I checked Uber every 30 seconds during my ride to see if the ETA had magically changed. (It hadn’t; I was late.) Then, later that night, I again was scouring the app in desperate attempts to make the surge pricing go down. (It didn’t; I spent an exorbitant amount of money.) This wouldn’t be the last time Uber wronged me this week.

Most-Used Apps: Messages, Instagram, Uber

Screen Time: 4 hours, 14 minutes

Day 3: Photo Dumps & Watching TV On TikTok

After waiting for the influx of graduation posts to die down, I posted a photo dump of my senior photos, grad day photos, and the staged grad photos I took with my bestie. I spent some time on Instagram replying to comments and looking at other people’s pics. Before bed, I was in a rabbit hole of watching Netflix’s Maid on TikTok, a show I’d already seen on my TV like it was intended to be viewed. However, I somehow got sucked into rewatching a portion of it in the most inconvenient format possible: cropped and flipped, slightly pitched up to avoid copyright, and in three-minute increments. I admit I was sucked in for way too long and ended up going to bed far later than I planned. I also relied on Messages to send off some of my friends who are flying back home after graduation and I don’t know when I’ll see them again. (I’m not crying, you are.)

Most-Used Apps: TikTok, Instagram, Messages

Screen Time: 5 hours, 36 minutes

Day 4: Eras Tour Inspo On TikTok & AI Deepfakes

Eras Tour prep came in full swing midweek. I looked at TikTok to see if there was anything I was forgetting to bring to tour and made sure to get a clear bag, per stadium policy. This is where I realized TikTok is my ultimate frenemy: Even though I often learn useful things like new recipes or Eras essentials, most of the time, I’m just draining my limited free time with it. At this point, I also started to freak out a little bit about traffic and getting into the show. While this is my fifth Taylor concert at Gillette, I forget just how hard it is to go to a major stadium in the middle of the suburbs. I anxiously scrolled through TikToks warning people how early to get to the show, the stadium regulations for what time you can come and what you can bring, and started panicking that I would miss Phoebe Bridgers’ set since she’s one of my favorite artists. Before bed, the group chat with my friends from home was blowing up with two of my friends sending AI deepfakes. It’s now a TikTok trend to use AI to rendition different photos of yourself, like wearing professional clothing to use as a headshot. My friends’ pics looked a little too yassified to pass on LinkedIn, and someone had to be honest!

Most-Used Apps: TikTok, Messages, Instagram

Screen Time: 4 hours, 34 minutes

Day 5: Making Friendship Bracelets & SwiftTok Inspo

Before I pulled myself out of bed in the morning, I scrolled through Instagram to get caught up on some posts and clicked through all of my unopened stories and DMs. I’ve been trying to spend as little time on my phone in the morning as possible since the dopamine releases you get as soon as you wake up can negatively affect the rest of your day. Obviously, that goal flopped this day.

As Taylor implored in “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” fans have rushed to “make the friendship bracelets / take the moment and taste it.” And of course, I had to oblige! My sister (my Taylor concert buddy since 2009) and I spent most of our night making beaded bracelets to represent most of the eras. In between, I checked TikTok for any other potential ideas from SwiftTok. I also scrolled around on Twitter to see fans’ predictions on what Tay’s rotating surprise songs would be this weekend (which, yes, defeats the purpose of them being a surprise, but it’s still fun).

Most-Used Apps: TikTok, Messages, Instagram

Screen Time: 5 hours, 5 minutes

Day 6: Eras Tour: It’s Been A Long Time Coming

The day I’ve been waiting months for finally came. I attended the first night of the Eras shows at Gillette. (My hair, makeup, and internal body temperature thanked me for missing the rain show by one day!) Even though the concert didn’t start until 6:30 p.m., my whole day basically revolved around it. I slept in later than usual to make sure I was fully rested for the big day, but when I woke up, I hit the ground running. After going on a coffee run and picking up some post-show snacks, I slowly started to get ready. I went for a Midnights-inspired look and kept my ’fit and makeup in navy tones. As I did my hair and makeup, I shuffled Taylor’s discography on Spotify to pregame for listening to her music for another three and a half hours (it makes sense to me).

I relied heavily on Messages this day. Being a Gillette pro and living pretty close to the stadium, I coordinated a drop-off and pickup with my aunt in the backroads of the stadium to avoid traffic. Once we got to our seats and the show started, I updated my fam. And like the dutiful friend I am, I texted my Swiftie friends the surprise songs (“Should’ve Said No” and “Better Man”) as soon as she started playing them.

Throughout the show, my Camera app did a lot of heavy lifting. As Taylor sang in “Fearless,” “In this moment now, capture it, remember it.” So I made sure to get some pics and videos of my fave songs and moments so I can look back on this day forever. But of course, I also made sure to be present and soak up the incredible show. The post-concert depression hit *hard* after this one.

Most-Used Apps: Messages, Camera, Spotify

Screen Time: 5 hours, 5 minutes


Day 7: Post-Concert Depression & Graduation Party

On the final day of my screen time diary, I woke up, fed my dog, and immediately went back to bed. Between singing at the top of my lungs and dancing for hours on end, walking to and from the stadium, and, sure, a few drinks at the show, I was wiped by Saturday morning. I spent the later part of the morning scrolling through my camera roll to remind myself that last night was, in fact, real and to round up a post for Insta. I got slightly mushy with some throwback pics of my sister and me at our first Taylor concert in 2009, when I was just 8.

In the afternoon, I braved the torrential downpour to go to my friend’s graduation party, which, although outside, was luckily under a covered tent. We cycled through just about every drinking game in the book before making the not-so-wise decision to go to a pub just five minutes away from Gillette Stadium, where the second night of the T. Swift concert was happening. Needless to say, Ubers were nearly impossible to book: I was on the loading page of doom waiting for some kind soul to accept my ride, and prices were swinging between $12 and $45 for a 10-minute ride. When Uber didn’t have my back, Lyft did, and I got home in one piece.

Most-Used Apps: Messages, Instagram, Photos

Screen Time: 4 hours, 48 minutes

Final Thoughts: I Need To Go Back To High School

Of course, I don’t mean literally go back to high school — that chapter is sealed and locked away. But even though a phone is sort of a necessity as a 20-something, I think I could benefit from some more phoneless days or social media-free weeks to let myself focus on my hobbies or to just unwind without a device by my side. When I get wrapped up in a TikTok rabbit hole or lose track of time scrolling on Instagram, it can be hard to pull myself away from it, so taking away that temptation altogether will help a lot. I was honestly a bit surprised to see I was averaging five hours of screen time per day, especially since my week was pretty busy. But I suspect that the kinds of things I was doing prompted me to use my phone more than if I were busy doing errands, for example.

Out of fear and forgetfulness, I don’t generally tend to look at my screen time stats, so I may need to face my fears and take a look at the numbers every so often to contextualize just how much time I’m wasting in a day. (TikTok, I’m looking at you!) So yeah, maybe I need to touch grass a little more often.

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