Phone detox – Micheal Conlan revels in break from being force ‘feed fear’ and online negativity

Michael Conlan [13(7)-0] has heralded the benefits a week away from the phone.

The world title hopeful, who has been very vocal with regard to social media, online bullying and suicide, last went cold Turkey with regard to technology for a week.

The Top Rank fighter revealed he was too invested in his phone in particular and felt he needed a break.

“I have probably spent too much time on my phone and social media,” he told Belfast Live Sport.

“I went off my phone all of last week and took a break, which I felt I needed.”

The short break from social media and being so accessible proved beneficial, revealed Conlan.

“I felt it was very beneficial. My head was clear and I spent more time getting things done and being more productive. It was definitely something I needed to do and I am glad I did it.

“It wasn’t just social media. I turned my whole phone off. If I have my phone in my hand I go onto social media. I have deleted apps off my phone before, but no sooner have I done that than I am re-installing them and going back on.

“I get hundreds of messages every day and I have a habit of opening everything I receive. I can’t stop myself. So if I get a notification in my messages, I open them.”

The two time Olympian and World Championship gold medal winner has proved himself strong willed, single minded and determined in the ring over the years.

However, even a skilled operator of the toughest sport in the world can be affected verbal blows.

Speaking on those that troll him he added: “Sometimes when you go online and you see someone writing something shit about you, or to you. That can affect you sub-consciously.”

“Consciously, I just say fuck it and move on. Fuck them, I don’t need to pay them any attention. But it does affect you. It will be niggling at you. What was happening with me was that I wasn’t being present with my family, and that really annoyed me,” he continues before getting somewhat deeper.

“Sometimes you think you’re not even in control of your own life. It’s not your own free will. I am just human – I am not super-human or special,” he says.

“I take criticism like everyone else. Nobody likes receiving flak or criticism. Anyone who says they enjoy that is crazy. If you are in the limelight or in the spotlight, people will give you more abuse. They think it is okay because you are in the spotlight, but that’s not right.

“They think sportspeople or celebrities should be able to shake it off. Everyone has feelings. People talk about the importance of mental health, yet so many people are happy to have a go at someone they don’t even know. That’s not right.

“Yes, people can critique me or whatever. But you shouldn’t be allowed to go on social media and talk shit about me. That does my head in, but it is what it is. You can’t change everyone’s opinion of you. You have to learn how to deal with it and move with it.”

It wasn’t just critics, keyboard warriors and trolls that Conlan benefited from avoiding. He suggests shutting off from general media and the general noise online also helped.

“I am aware of what’s going on, but you are being fed so much fear at the minute, I don’t think it is healthy.

“To get away from that, and to show I have my own free will and that I do things with my family, was good. I was able to be in the moment, which is how we should be living all of the time. But it isn’t as simple as just saying that. Being present, all of the time, is very difficult to do. I managed to do it for a few days, and I took a lot from it. I will do it more often because I realised I don’t need my phone as much.

“It is nice to be connected, and it does grab you back in. I feel the last day or so I have been grabbed back in already, but I know I am making progress in getting away from my phone.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com