Take Back Control or Get Rid of your Phone

Or at least just hide your phone in a drawer

Since the end of World War II one of the things that have characterized consumer culture, especially in the Western Industrialized nations, is a nearly endless array of consumer devices, many of them “time-saving” devices. The vacuum cleaner and washing machine were clearly two such, which truly made doing housecleaning and weekly chores much easier.
There have, in the years since then, been an endless procession of other products that are supposed to save time or make life easier.

Some of them work,

some of them don’t,

some are downright absurd.

But the smartphone has taken then the idea of convenience and portability to a whole new level. A smartphone will let you access your email, texts, functions as a scanner, make phone calls (who even does that anymore), browse the web, use myriad apps, oh and connect to social media.

This is a serious problem, because Twitter, the Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, are all endless, and they provide an endless distraction. And even if you’re waiting for an important tweet (something that has not happened in the history of the universe) you’ll read the tweet then spend a few moments on Twitter and maybe get outraged and see an untruth you need to point and then you’ll need to wait for replies and pretty soon half an hour has passed easily and you’ve accomplished nothing.

When I first started trying to get serious about writing I found I was constantly checking my phone. Even if I wasn’t checking my phone, my phone would make a noise and then I’d check it. Usually, it would just be an email. A spam email I didn’t care about and would just delete. But it would ruin my concentration, I’d delete the email and get back to work but then the Facebook would notify my phone.

I didn’t really own the phone, the phone owned me. So I just started turning off every push notification. I especially turned off the sound, and keep it off. I started really thinking about whether I wanted to be on mailing lists and receiving newsletters. I made myself actually read them, and if I didn’t want to read them I just unsubscribed.

It’s incredibly freeing, for my mental health day-to-day, and especially for actually focusing in and doing some writing.

If you want to connect with family, stay up to date, promote your work, you may well need to use social media. Just don’t let it use you.

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