I’ve been reading the book by the same name and making a lot of changes recently. I spend too much time on devices without actually accomplishing much.
I’ve recently unsubscribed from just about all emails… which is something I like to do whenever there’s a big holiday anyway (looking at you, Black Friday) but I gave a lot of things a pass just because they weren’t trying to sell me something. But if it’s taking up my time (or taking up space in my inbox) and not giving me anything in return, it’s time for it to go.
I’ve also gone through my contacts list and deleted every entry that I don’t need. I had a lot of contacts for people who’ve never stayed in touch or don’t have my current number. Including stuff I really didn’t need like past doctors or campgrounds we’ve stayed at and don’t plan to revisit.
I set up my Home Screen so it makes me happy when I see it, but I don’t need to be on it all the time. I’ve put apps that distract me (like WordPress) into a folder called “Are you sure?”
I deleted a ton of apps. I thought I was pretty frugal about apps I have in my phone, but there was plenty I didn’t need. The advice is “you can always delete later.” But as a nomad with cellular internet and very little patience, unless the app is very tiny, I am unlikely to download it again later. So Star Walk stays, but TikTok goes.
I may delete this blog or the whole site, and put up a placeholder. The reality is, I’m not coding anything any more. Even if I decide to work in tech someday (unlikely), I won’t be coding. I certainly like to tinker with WordPress themes for the sites I continue to maintain, and I love automating Shortcuts for my iDevice, but I’m done trying to get into tech professionally. At this point, this domain is less of a declaration of what I am or what I do, and more of a description of a prior phase in my life. I created it because it made me smile, but now it feels more like a chore.
I want to go back to using devices for fun and as useful personal tools. I’m tired of being at the mercy of my devices. I’m tired of devices that are designed to be addicting. And I’m tired of my devices stressing me out and making me feel badly about myself.
The friend who recommended this book is the same (and only) friend I knew who wouldn’t whip out his phone when hanging out with friends in the early days of cell phones. He didn’t understand why people couldn’t avoid their device for one meal friends. And, 20 years later, he was totally right.
We should be conscientious of the fine line here… for those of us who are disabled and unable to hang out with people offline (and in this post-covid world, that’s a lot more of us than it used to be), devices are a lifeline. They are how we socialize, work, and shop for groceries. But my devices felt more like constant reminders of my shortcomings, rather than empowering connections to my community.
I don’t know what all of this means in the long term. But for now, I’m enjoying a less cluttered digital life.
EDIT: I need to add a content warning for this book. It advocates disordered eating and equates intermittent fasting with intermittently putting your phone away for a period. This is dangerous and irresponsible. I ignored a lot of the book’s ableism but disordered eating is irresponsible and piss poor writing.
Like all “self-help” books, take this one with a big shaker of salt. Take what you need and discard the rest without a second thought.