I have done something dramatic. Starting last Tuesday, I began deleting apps from my iPhone: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn — all gone.
Does this make me a Luddite? Some anachronistic fool? I do not think so. I can always access them on desktop, so why be constantly connected on the go?
The logic goes like this:
- Built-in feeds use infinite scrolls that are made to be addicting. When we scroll, the flick of a finger is the same motion we make when we play a slot machine.
- When Snapchat launched I told myself, “How ludicrous. Why would you update a photo/video that disappears from your feed in 24 hours?” Then IG and FB intro’ed the feature, and low and behold, I was lured into making real-time updates.
- On mobile we make on-to-go comments that are usually brief and lack context. On desktop we allow ourselves time to think out posts (as I am doing now).
The addiction to on-to-go digital applications means:
- We can become addicted, constantly flicking for feed notifications, looking for that dopamine buzz that comes from a new message, like or comment.
- Living a life posting in real time sacrifices unrepeatable real-world moments. When I am taking an enjoying vacation or having a great meal, I rob myself of those precious moments by instead choosing to dedicate time to make real-time posts, which can be saved for later.
- Writing posts after the fact allows time for reflection. A lot of the negative discourse online manifests because of posting commentary that lacks context. This is preciously why Twitter increased its character limit in order to fight hate.
- When I want to work, I can sit down to look at my email. For other urgent notifications, we now have Slack.
I do not have to be forced to constantly update my life to feed the ravenous maws of companies that profit off our willingness to create deluges of data. Remember this: These companies are worth billions because they have invested so much into making you choose to constantly live on their apps.
I recognize that when I work, I will have to break these rules, but only momentarily. Twitter is essentially a news wire for breaking events. I will still continue to use WhatsApp.
So I implore you to ask yourselves: What do these mobile apps give to me? I thought about it.
Through social media mobile apps, I have learned from other’s experiences. Mostly new venues or restaurants. But all of that info can still be found on desktop. I continued to see no valuable trade off to being constantly connected for information that I can just as easily access, and when I choose to access it.
The result is a massive increase in productivity. Since deleting these mobile apps, I am now using my smartphone less than two hours a day, down from peaks of about five hours. It will drop even further.
Without these apps, we come to recognize the world and people around us, especially those that are still glued to screens.
Instead of checking my phone frequently, I now choose to call a friend, family members or read books. I no longer wake up straight out of bed to look at my emails. If I want to plug in, I make the choice for desktop. If not, then the desktop no longer follows me.
We can record memories and capture great photos, but they will be so much more valuable if we publish them with some thought and reflection, instead of constantly kowtowing to the insatiable hunger of social media.