Morning Rituals


Natalie Sarian


For this project I decided to observe my boyfriend Adel. Adel is a 32-year-old male. I chose him as my subject because I have recently noticed that he has begun using social media on his cell phone much more than usual. Adel engages in a morning ritual that I have witnessed morning after morning for 2 years. Every morning Adel wakes up, walks to the kitchen to make his first cup of coffee, he then takes it into the backyard to let the dog out and enjoy his coffee with a cigarette at the outdoor dining table. During the time that he is smoking and drinking his coffee he is on his phone, quietly. Over the years I have learned that this is Adel’s quiet time, his time to catch up on things like social media, but I never realized his purpose and his deliberate actions taken to reinforce his purpose until I observed him much more closely. Ordinarily, I would sit by his side with my morning coffee and cigarette and my face in my phone silently as well, until something finally breaks the silence. But on Friday January 29th, 2016 I decided to not only observe him more closely, but also to open a discussion about his morning cyber rituals. I found that lately, he has begun using Snapchat more because of a certain celebrity making waves on his Snapchat account, and that there is a thoughtfully planned and prioritized procession of how he engages in the cyber world.


I observed that with his first cup of coffee, Adel sat on his phone for about 30 minutes straight, perhaps longer than usual because we engaged in conversation about his cyber usage. I asked him to provide commentary on what he was doing. The first thing Adel did is check his emails. The only emails important to him in the morning are those concerning work. They are usually from his in-house accountant informing him of the bank statements and checks going in and out on various properties that he owns. Once those emails are looked over, he proceeds to check his Instagram newsfeed. He chuckles here and there at some of the memes posted by the comedy-oriented Intagram accounts like “THEFATJEWISH.” He also likes some of the pictures people have posted. He mentions that he really only likes pictures that his cousins or closest friends post, and that even if he truly couldn’t careless about the photo he does it as a common courtesy. In this way, I can relate to my boyfriend. We both make it a rule not to like celebrity pictures or a picture from strangers’ accounts that we only follow for the comedic relief, but we always like our relatives and closest friends’ photos almost as if it were our duty. Adel very rarely posts pictures on Instagram, he doesn’t feel every photo needs to be documented for the world to see. He has a relatively low number of friends on Instagram. When I asked him how it is that he has so many friends in his real life and almost everybody from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica knows him, yet by social media standards such a low number of friends on Instagram, he responded that he really only uses Instagram for the accounts that provide him with a daily dose of humor and take his mind off of the day he has ahead of him, and that he felt obligated to add his closest friends and relatives on his account. Once Instagram has been sufficiently scrolled through, he proceeds to his new obsession, Snapchat. He rarely sends any snaps himself, but he loves to watch his favorite celebrities’ snapstories. He watches basketball player Dwayne Wade’s snaps and then proceeds to DJ Khaled’s snapstory. Although I find DJ Khaled’s new found fame on Snapchat idiotic and mind numbing, he finds it hilarious and has incorporated DJ Khaled’s extremely long snapstories into his morning social media ritual. Whereas Adel uses social media to engage in a world outside of his own, I use it for the exact opposite. Although I do follow many of the comedic accounts on Instagram to get some daily laughs, I mostly use Instagram and Snapchat to see what my friends are doing and what they are posting. I do not follow any celebrities on Snapchat or Instagram, in fact, I use social media to strengthen the ties that I have within my own social world, rather than escape it. Lastly, in his words, he “saves the best for last,” he proceeds to the web browser on his phone and goes straight to to start reading the latest sports news.  This is when quiet time resumes.


During this morning ritual, Adel received multiple text messages that he consistently ignored. He is part of a group chat with 14 of his friends, this group chat has been going on for years, and the texts come flying in all day long. And every morning, he chooses to ignore them until after he has gone through his own ritual. Phone calls are also something he does not engage in during his morning ritual. Once he arrives to work, his day is filled with phone calls, texts, and emails, and he rarely gets a chance to go on social media. For Adel, the 15 to 25 minutes he spends in the morning on his phone, doing what he pleases and ignoring everything else, could be compared to what some people try to achieve by practicing methods like Yoga and meditation.