Digital wellness is the truth I don't want to know

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 22, 2018, 10:27 PM | comments: 0

Apple and Google have both introduced counting mechanisms into their phone operating systems, the idea being that you can check out how much time you've spent doing stuff. I assume that this sort of existed in Android, since you've been able to see what apps are sucking your battery or data usage. Now there's a user interface around it all, so you can let the phone give you the cold hard truth about what you're doing with it.

The numbers aren't great. I tend to spend on average about two hours per day looking at that damn thing, though I can reasonably assert that at least half of that is in the evenings when I'm hanging out, or winding down before bed. On weekdays, I get a staggering 150+ notifications, which I'm sure are mostly email and Slack (which I'm starting to realize is the new email, but maybe even less useful). I unlock the phone way less than I would expect, averaging around 30 times per day.

The actual time per app though is what really frightens me. How can I spend 20 minutes in a day looking at Instagram? (Answer: dr.woo and #bluehair.) I don't even follow that many people, and I don't post everyday. Facebook is another offender, but usually only on days when I'm out posting selfies with my family and we're doing stuff. I have notifications for all social media turned off because I don't need the distraction (Slack might be coming next). I don't play games very often, but when I do, they're just time wasters before bed or doing my business. Those often account for 15 minutes or more, but let's say those runs are relative to, er, runs? Gross.

To my credit, I have become better about not pulling out the damn thing every time I risk being bored for 30 seconds. Like if I'm in line to buy a burrito, I'd rather people watch, or when I'm really challenging myself, to other humans. About burritos. I'm very conscious about having it out around Simon when we're doing stuff, like a father-son theme park trip. It's starting to become less about being present, and more about the realization that nothing on the phone is really enriching my life. I don't get people who spend half their day arguing with people on the Twitter about how wrong they are.

Smart phones are definitely important tools to have, but they're also time sucks that prevent one from interacting with life as it happens around you. I see it with people at restaurants and at theme parks, and it makes me sad. I use mine to take photos a ton, and from there I get in, do what I intend, and get out. I hope others do the same.

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