(Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)I am not allowed to look at my boyfriend’s Notes on his phone, and it makes me mad.
What secrets lurk within?
What is he hiding among a detailed meal plan and a pre-written rant for an argument he’s planning to have?
In a society of over-sharers, our Notes app is the most private, intimate window into who someone really is.
Notes have surpassed the diary entries of the 90s and early noughties, which were kept under easily broken lock and key.
Years back we would hide under the covers with a torch and a fluffy pink pen and write about the drama of our day, ranging from burn book entries (before Mean Girls was even a thing) to apologies for not writing for the last few weeks and tales of eating porridge and plans to eat slices of apples with peanut butter as a snack.
The pressure to write something fascinating and worth the privacy was too much. We looked back over old diary entries and cringed. Slowly we stopped writing in those pages headed with ‘my secret diary, DO NOT READ’ and hiding under the covers felt silly.
Social media arrived and we got a fresh outlet for our tumultuous feelings.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)We could put moody song lyrics in our MSN status, do a passive aggressive quiz on MySpace, or post an enigmatic ‘it’s the people you love the most who have the power to hurt you the most…’ or ‘bad day xxx’.
Then came the age of influencers, and the idea that your social media should not be a diary but a carefully curated version of yourself. Your tweets must be witty, your Instagram must maintain an aesthetic. You could post emotional tweets on your alt account, but even those needed to be moody enough to be #relatable.
So where could we go to share our immediate musings and our innermost thoughts? The Notes app, of course.
The Notes app offers an immediacy our old diaries never could, a place to type out anything the moment it occurs to us.
The lack of an audience and the pressure to meet an expectation of diary-worthy drama means that in Notes, we can be far more honest. We can use it for any purpose, without the fear and secret hope that someone will read it.
And so, if you look in someone’s Notes app, you will find text ranging from the deeply mundane (shopping lists, to-do lists for the day, dates in need of adding to the calendar) to the shamefully personal.
I assumed my Notes would be pretty dull – I hardly ever use them.
But a quick browse found multiple scrolls of Kanye quotes, book ideas, shreds of quotes from interviews and reminders to myself that make little sense and sound more intriguing as a result – ‘it’s the molasses’, ‘come on then, hold my hand’, ‘pig bath’, ‘beer with owl’.
Going deeper I find notes with ‘I love you’, clearly typed out then shown to my partner IRL.
I find a typed out apology to my ex for ‘being sh*t’, likely drafted there then pasted to Whatsapp.
There are ideas for articles, lists of what a friend’s boyfriend did on a night out (typed drunk so I wouldn’t forget the next day), plans for travel, details of money spent and budgets not stuck to.
A look at these could tell you quite a bit about me, and I’m not even a prolific Notes user.
A glimpse into my Notes (Picture: Ellen Scott/Metro.co.uk)The entries in a Notes app are deeply intimate, written not for likes or shares or to create a pleasing version of ourselves, but for our eyes only and the people we choose to share them with*.
(*Notes so often seem to be used to type out messages to friends and then show them the screen. Have you noticed that?)
My deskmate tells me her Notes app has results from a Scrabble match, a list of people she’s slept with, lyrics to Google later, and a message that says ‘old man is staring’.
Another friend lists: ‘Holiday itinerary, my favourite baby names, a list of everyone I’ve shagged, one that just says heaven’s gate cult, films I want to watch, book recommendations, train-written poems, a letter I wrote to my ex asking why he cheated on me, chapters for my never-gonna-happen book, my wifi code.’
The Notes app might be the last truly private place we have left.
As with any secret, the privacy only makes the contents of my partner’s Notes app more enticing, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is one corner of his existence that I shouldn’t barge my way into.
We need Notes as a place we can blurt without the threat of our musings and food diaries ever being seen. They’re the last digital space left that’s just for us, and that’s kind of magical.
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