I like technology because of the immense positives it brings to our life. From taking that great photo at your family dinner, making a video call with a loved one from another country, or navigating you back home. All of this and more is almost always present in our pockets; it’s why it’s so amazing.
Just today I’ve used my smartphone as a shopping list, to text a friend, and to listen to a podcast. It’s amazing, and I’m always astonished by how much these devices bring to our lives.
Today, apps have different incentives and business models, and that one predictor, a mechanism that is used in the most destructive apps for our society and personal well-being, is called infinite scroll.
This small tweak of interface allows those apps to sink you in with their content. Most of the time, the content you continue consuming even after an unhealthy amount of time was spent on the platform. The hope of getting to that next perfect piece of content keeps you engaged, scrolling and scrolling until you finally snap out of it.
There’s this concise yet amazing article called How to Stare at Your Phone Without Losing Your Soul by Sim. In the article the author states:
It’s not about how much you use your phone. It’s about whether your phone is a needy, attention-sucking vampire. If that’s the case, the only healthy screen time is no screen time. Zero. That’s why the main metric tracked by screen time apps is deceptive: ten minutes of shooting crack cocaine intravenously are still ten minutes of shooting crack cocaine intravenously. AA meetings don’t give out badges to members who drink for less than 2 hours per day. Or to those who stop drinking 2 hours before bed.
I totally agree with the author, and I think there’s a huge problem we all currently have. Everyone uses mostly apps that we don’t like to use. It’s very rarely that we use a phone to actually make our lives better (and no, posting a photo on Instagram doesn’t classify as improving your life).
So I would suggest getting rid of all apps with an infinite scroll mechanism - those include social media apps, some news apps, some video streaming apps, and more. If you can open the app and scroll infinitely, you might consider removing it.
Now I know how hard this is. And you might just read this article, think about this issue for a moment, and switch to another more pleasant activity.
I’m still trying to do this for myself. And although my smartphone has been almost cleared, I still have some work to do.
One thing you might realize after you delete all of those apps is that you don’t need your phone most of the time. You will start picking it up from the table and randomly checking it because of the previous habit. After a week or so, you might go back to a normal baseline of picking up your smartphone only when you actually need something from it, and you aren’t just bored.
Here lies the second challenge - boredom. After deleting those time-sucking apps, you will be left with more time, which is actually hard to fill if you don’t have a plan. This is something I’m currently struggling with the most still.
If I have some sport or other activity planned, I’m fine, I can’t check the phone/computer for a whole day, but if I have no plan at all, I will definitely spend most of the time watching YouTube.
I’m not saying that you should plan every second of your life, but we should find a better balance to handle our human condition in a more positive way. I’m still figuring all of this out.