Quitting Cell phones
I watch my screen time on my iphone a lot. I had been shocked during pandemic to see that my screen time had ballooned up to about 8 hours per day. Some days, I spent 10 hours on my phone. Looking back, I think this is obscene and ridiculous.
I decided to set a limit, and that 2 hours per day was plenty, if not excessive. Phones are great, they do everything. Maps, money, social contact, etc are all in the phone. It's our stereo, our camera, and holder of all precious memories. Pick it up to look up something important and the next thing you know 30 minutes has passed and you're fighting with a random stranger on reddit over something completely meaningless, or watching stupid tiktok videos.
I've tried just willing myself to not use my phone, but phones work on the same neural pathways as crack cocaine. They were intentionally designed to be addictive. The pings, vibrations, and touch interfaces are designed to activate all of our pleasure centers in our brain.
I bought a $20 lockbox on amazon called "Keepin Box". Drop the phone in, set a timer and walk away. Initially when I tried this I felt a lot of anxiety. What if I needed to call 911? What if my elderly parents had an emergency? What if I needed to go somewhere and didn't have directions?
I have an apple watch, and that works OK for messaging, but if I needed to call emergency services, I would not feel comfortable relying on it. It has limited battery life and requires a connection to my phone to work so I did something counterintuitive. I bought a second phone.
I bought the cheapest google pixel I could find, the 6a, for $299. I have a $5 a month cellphone plan, installed whatsapp for messaging, zoom for meetings, and firefox for simple web browsing.
After two weeks, I've been able to keep my screen time to about 2hours on average. Some days, it's 1H 30M. In the first two weeks, I've finished reading a book that I've been trying to get through for 2 years. Wrote 10% of a novel that I've been thinking about for 5 years, binge watched a sports documentary on Netflix etc. I have so much extra time that I have found myself going outside just to stand in the sun and get some vitamin D. I work from home, and while I always got my work done, now I run out of things to do 2 hours before it's time to clock out. I have to find new things to do. My productivity at work has at least doubled.
The most surprising thing about quitting cellphones is that telling people gets a negative response. Nobody wants to try it. I realized quitting crack is good but your friends who are also crackheads wouldn't be happy to hear it. Over the last 3 years, I've become well aware that I'm just not like most people and it doesn't bother me one bit.
I'm committed to keeping my phone usage low, and I'm thinking about getting a flip phone at some point, but I'm not sure it would significantly reduce my time. Ultimately I think 45 minutes per day would as much time as I'd like to spend with my phone, but we'll see if I'm able to get my time down that far.
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