Being more intentional around computers

Every Monday, an app on my phone sends me a notification around 9am. It is as disheartening as it is distracting: it wants me to stop what I'm doing to take note the fact that last week I used my phone even more than the week before. This happens so often that I'm left wondering, if these metrics are accurate, how come I still have any hours at the end of the day that are not spent looking at my phone.

Every Monday, after chuckling at the irony of the fact that these disruptive notifications are a big reason why I look at my phone so much, I tell myself that something needs to be done about it. I am just not winning this battle.

I ask myself, what do I need this device for? There are convenient things it can offer me no doubt, but to what extent do I need it? I can't shake off the impression that I am using my devices more and more to interact with machines, less and less with people. If that is the case, why is it so hard to let go of it? The very fact that it's so hard makes me want to do it even more.

Messaging

With most of my family in a different continent, this is the most important reason for me to have a phone. It's hot anywhere near the top of my screen, however.

Email

Constantly checking my email (notifications are off), then feeling anxious I can't act on them right now. Not the brightest endeavour.

Calls

Just kidding. I'm not a creep.

Looking things up (also: pretending to be smart)

It is a powerful thing, being able to pretend to know about the military history of Latin America, recite facts about public health in different countries, and look up Bible verses I only vaguely remember.

Unfortunately, that is not real knowledge, and I must stop pretending otherwise. Additionally, not knowing something for a few hours before I look it up (or not) also feels liberating. Fewer things to hold opinions on.

Reading the news

I now subscribe to magazines. I also get the daily briefing on the radio. Even that feels like too much sometimes.

"Tracking" things

Reading the Bible. Exercising. Meditating. Fasting. I used to be eager to go tell a computer as soon as I got something "good" done, seeking that approval. A green check mark? Confetti? A positive message? What will my price be? "Well done, good and faithful servant"! 200 points for you.

Keeping a journal and committing these to paper has helped me with the urge to go tell an app about my life.

Productivity software

Having a calendar and a to-do list in my pocket is convenient. Unfortunately, once the device is out of my pocket, no matter what the initial intention was, I'm more likely to check Hacker News than my to-do list.

My bullet journal is also great because I get to be more selective with the tasks I commit to. Opening my notebook is a contemplative act. Unlocking my phone is mindless, automatic one.

Conclusion

It's not worth it. It's not a deal I would take if presented with it. My family, my friends, my loved ones deserve more from me than the occasional text. As it stands in my life, this is not a device conducive to meaningful interactions.

I have a plan. Follow me if you agree.

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