For the past few days I've been thinking about the impact technology has had on my life, my mind, and my career.
So today I want to show you what I have on my phone and how I've made my iPhone work for me. It is a tool, after all.
You'll notice right off that there's not much on my phone.
I use Mint SIM as my carrier because 'Big Data' is pure evil and because Mint offers the ability to pay for service up to one year in advance.
With their sign-up offer I paid $45 ($57 and change after tax and the purchase of a SIM card) and received six months of cell service.
Moving right, you'll see that my phone is on Do Not Disturb as indicated by the half moon icon. My phone stays in Do Not Disturb.
I created a group of contacts called Friends & Family whose calls come through. Everyone else goes to voicemail. I have only four user-installed apps: My banking app, Dark Sky, Google Maps, and Uber.
These apps answer four questions that I think make smartphone ownership worth it to me. 1) Banking: How much money do I have? 2) Dark Sky: Is it about to rain? 3) Google Maps: Where the hell am I? and, 4) Uber: Can someone get me out of here?
Dark Sky is an incredible app, perhaps my favorite one. It pulls from multiple sources to give me a notification right before it starts raining. This is supremely helpful when I'm driving around with my Jeep's top and doors off.
On the bottom row are apps that come with the phone, some of which I never use. I deleted every default app that the phone would allow me to delete. Among the remaining default apps I can tell you I've never opened Health, Find My iPhone, or Apple Wallet.
I use my phone as a phone. I use the Messages app and I sometimes call my sister or a few distant friends using Facetime. I use the alarm clock, the flashlight, and the camera. I really only take pictures of things I need to remember with my phone, as I use my camera for real photography.
Why the brutalist approach to smartphone use? The way I see it, an alcoholic wouldn't keep a bottle of Jameson in his home. Likewise, I shouldn't keep apps that keep me addicted to my phone.
When I left social media, I had been checking likes and comments hourly. I had this intense feeling of FOMO. I felt I needed to respond instantly to every message. I felt I needed to curate my life and work in such a way as to grow and maintain a following.
I lacked focus on my real work, my attention span and patience were dwindling, and I was often driven to despair when I compared myself to others. Those are marks of an addiction to social media. I had over 6,000 followers on Instagram but knew maybe 80 of them on a personal level. Yet I was letting all of those people influence my thinking.
Then there were the mindless apps that filled my time with nothing, like the games that I got lost in. In 2014, I deleted all games from my phone after realizing I had spent $80 on a pay-to-win game thoughtlessly—I think I blogged about it—how could I be so blind and so dumb? $80 down the drain for what? so that my virtual "clan" could have a stronger trebuchet? WTF Josh.
Last year I started leaving my phone in my car when dining out with friends and dates. It was eye-opening—I haven't gone back. One of my biggest pet peeves now is when I'm having a conversation and a friend's attention is arrested by his or her device, because I have nothing to look at but the top of their head.
Before, I would just pull my own phone out and we'd sit in silence under that dull glow. We'd be there but not there. Now I make a game of trying to say the most disgusting thought that comes to my head to see if it's enough to make them look back up. I've seen every true crime doc out there—I can think of some pretty gross things to say.