For some reason I got a few videos about switching from smartphone to dumbphone and back in my YouTube stream, so I actually checked them out because the idea seemed bizarre. It turned out that some people are so overwhelmed by a smartphone that they just can’t leave it alone; they constantly find things to do with it, from social media to all the music and stuff you can listen on it, that their entire lives get absorbed in it. The reason why I find it bizarre is that my iPhone sits somewhere on the desk all day and I use it only for internet banking purposes (because Revolut, for instance, doesn’t have a desktop app so I have to use a mobile device) or when someone calls me; basically, when I’m home, I either don’t use it at all, or I use it for very specific things, the way I use a tootbrush or a coffee cup. When I’m going out, I put it in my pocket and basically forget about it, unless I want to check something. I’m probably the least typical smartphone user; I don’t use social media at all, I don’t listen to music or watch videos on my phone, but I do actually need a smartphone, because when I need it, it’s for checking some website or chat or map or things like that; my “screen on” time on the phone is perhaps five minutes a day, if even that. Still, I do kind of understand the problem people are having with them; it’s just that I get stuck on YouTube, watching hours of political, tech or historical videos, and it’s quite easy to lose the whole day like that. Still, I don’t consider it a loss; I want to keep informed in order to understand what’s going on, and analysis of the kind I’m doing requires keeping tabs on multiple data streams, but I occasionally find myself watching something that’s so far off-tangent that I wonder how I got there in the first place.
In any case, I think I’ve been doing it long enough that I can offer advice on how to manage addictive and time-consuming things on the Internet.
First, you need to be focused, as opposed to scatter-brained, and disciplined, in a sense of being in charge and not just clicking on shit that’s in front of you.
Second, you need to take breaks – take a long walk, or exercise, or something else that has nothing to do with either computers or the Internet. It doesn’t count if you use your phone in any way while doing it.
Third, no using the phone in the car. I can’t even tell you how annoying I find the people who drive while doing something on their phones, not to mention that it’s dangerous.
Fourth, when you’re with someone, talk to them. Don’t even touch the phone.
Fifth, do specific things, and when you’re done, let go of the phone, or the computer. Don’t fidget with it because you’ll always find something on it that will preoccupy your attention and waste your time. It’s a tool, not your connection with God.
Sixth, use an ad-blocker and similar tools for de-cluttering your screen. Don’t watch ads, don’t watch useless “entertaining” garbage, avoid live chats in favor of email and forums. Avoid Internet versions of “hanging out” – if you want to hang out, do it with friends in real life. Avoid functionality that keeps you “tethered”, in a sense that anyone can “ping” you at any time. That just keeps you plugged in and stressed. Turn the chat off unless you actually have something of importance to communicate, or if you expect to find something of importance there. In any case it’s best to write an e-mail. Chats are superficial, addictive, waste of time and for the most part they are disrespectful of other people’s limits and time, and if someone wants to keep you tethered it indicates an insecure personality. Avoid. Also, don’t ping others with useless shit – nobody really cares what you ate, or that you had to take a shit. Communicate important ideas, and if you don’t have any, shut up and read some books, and eventually that will change.
That’s basically it. If you’re scatterbrained, shallow and have an addictive personality, technology will certainly give you enough rope to hang yourself, but it isn’t an iPhone problem, it’s a dumbass problem.