It’s April 2nd, so an update on my digital detox is due. Firstly, the burner didn’t work out. I found that I text with family enough that the T9 keyboard drove me nuts. I also use MMS messages for backup dispatching at work, and the flip phone simply didn’t handle this well. Then there was the issue of podcasts. I listen a lot in the car, and carrying a separate iPod runs counter to my aim of simplifying. I swallowed my pride and reactivated my iPhone within 48 hours.
The rest of the detox went well. I still have no email or social media on the phone. The Twitter twitch is still there, especially in those interstitial times such as waiting in lines or sitting alone in a restaurant. I’m fighting it, and I have no plans to add complexity back into my phone.
Here’s my home screen. Everything I couldn’t delete or that I use rarely is hidden in three folders on the second page. That’s it. The detox continues.
So there I was with no functional cell phone and Mrs. Mack505 due at the airport in an hour. I was ANGRY, and a bit afraid. I was about to fail at a simple promise to my wife. Simplicity had suddenly turned ridiculously complex.
A brief pause is worthy here. In the days before Uber and cell phone lots, people still got picked up at the airport. I could park in short term parking and meet her at baggage claim. I could cruise in circles until she appeared at the curb. (Ever been to Boston Logan International? While possible this would be torture.) I could at least call her cell from a landline and leave a voicemail explaining the problem.
I could also use my daughter’s iPhone! Problem solved with a simple text which the Mrs. would get as soon as she landed.
Which brings me back to my phone saga. It took two more phone calls and a trip to Walmart (I swallowed my pride. . .), but I finally have a working burner. It’s a simple flip phone which makes calls and can text. That’s it. I had something similar in 2002. I feel like I should be making drug deals, ordering mob hits, or fleeing from Jason Bourne with it.
It’s been powered up for almost 24 hours and the battery indicator hasn’t moved from full. Stay tuned. . .
I awoke yesterday morning with a brainstorm. Somewhere in a drawer I had a very lightly used circa-2012 LG phone. It’s a cute little handset, approximately 2.5″ by 1″ with a sliding keyboard and no smart features. We bought it for Beth at a very young age to have on vacation in case we became separated.
For most of its life it has done nothing. It waits patiently for the day when one of us loses or breaks our smartphone. It would finally get the chance to fulfill its potential.
A simple phone call to AT&T would drag my cellular technology back to pre-2007 levels. If I only knew. . .
I won’t bore you with the details, mainly because it’s too early in the morning to raise my blood pressure again. Two phone calls to AT&T and one visit to the store later, I had succeeded in permanently bricking the LG and disabling the SIM in my iPhone. It would be out of service for at least 3 business days. I had downgraded my communications technology to pre-1995 levels.
There was panic. I had to pick up Mrs. Mack505 at the airport in less than an hour, and we were planning to use the cell phone lot! The digital detox was off to a bad start.
Stay tuned. . .
I have a small confession to make. I’ve been lazy in my writing. Yesterday’s digital detox has actually been ongoing for at least a week. Here are a few observations.
I’ve found that I don’t miss Facebook at all. There was much more drama there than I had realized. If something important happens with my family or friends I will hear about it eventually.
Instagram: I didn’t use it much anyway. It’s no loss. Ditto for Flickr.
Twitter is the issue. For most of the week I found myself having twitches to tweet something. Upon further reflection, most of the comments were not worth relaying later during my designated Twitter time. I suspect this is true of most social media posts.
I’m still using Netflix and Amazon Video but with a purpose. 45 minutes of TV equals a decent chunk of time on the treadmill. Bingeing was never so healthy.
My morning hour of screen time is almost up. I’m off to feed the cats, fill the pellet stove and humidifiers, wash the dishes, and then read a book. You know, IRL. See you tonight.
It was probably inevitable. I’ve been struggling with ‘things’ and minimalism for a while. I’ve largely concluded that I could survive with many fewer possessions but will never fit in a Tiny House. That’s OK.
I’ve railed against the media machine before. (Parts of that post are outdated, but the sentiment remains.) I’ve lamented drivers’ use of cell phones, and I’ve noticed everyone around me, family included, walking through life like zombies. Whether Pokemon or Facebook, the machines have taken over.
I took baby steps. I resisted Facebook. I deleted the app from my phone and tablet, and I severely curtailed my ‘Friends’ list. I would delete my account completely, but I still have a few professional obligations. I created and curated a block list on Twitter to remove as much politics as possible. (Neither side is happy right now.)
It wasn’t enough. I seriously considered replacing my iPhone with a dumb phone. I have an old one in the kitchen drawer which is suitable for phone calls and texts. It was very tempting, but I do use the smartphone for one or two important things at work. Life without it would not be impossible, but it would be harder.
Inspired in part by The Minimalists and pushed over the edge by Ray Larose, I’ve embarked on a Digital Detox:
- All social media has been deleted from my phone. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr – all gone.
- I’ve curtailed my apps; I only have apps which I regularly use and which ‘add value’ to my day. (Do I really need to access three versions of online banking from my phone? I’m never more than a few minutes away from a laptop.)
- Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay are gone. They only cost me money anyway.
- I have made a vow that I will only access email and Twitter from a real computer (laptop or my desk) and no more than twice a day.
- With the exception of writing sessions, no block of screen time will exceed one hour.
Friends and family have my phone number and we communicate primarily by text anyway.
Open-ended goals tend to fail for me, so I’ve planned to run this challenge through the end of this month. Wish me luck!