my new smartphone rules


I am something of a Luddite. A hypocritical one, as I rely on modern technology to do my work (documentary and news production), but a Luddite nevertheless. I don’t embrace machines that make life easier unless they free up my time in the world (dishwashers!) instead of taking time away from it (stationary bikes).

Even though it is a supremely useful device, I resisted getting a smartphone for years because I didn’t want to turn into a person who was more engaged with my phone than with everything and everyone around me. I succumbed a couple of years ago when I realized that without one, I was at a distinct disadvantage work-wise. Knowing that I tend towards an obsessive personality, I set rules for myself to try to limit the extent to which the smartphone could suck up my presence and swallow my soul. But as expected, I broke every single one, and little by little I became a smartphone brat like the rest of them.

There’s nothing like seeing how people live in a country with hardly any computers or smartphones to recognize that I am in my terrible twos of iPhone ownership, and if I don’t impose some mom-like discipline on myself, I’ll turn into a complete and utter wasteland. So it was two weeks ago on the plane home from this place – where it was impossible to use my phone as anything other than an alarm clock and camera, where I did not go online once, and where the digital age was limited to televisions and flip phones – that I decided to take advantage of the momentum and reset myself with some stringent smartphone and Internet rules:

– phone /Skype conversations only at home, at work, or parked somewhere. No walk-and-talks.

– no walking and texting, ever.

– text checks 3x a day max, unless I’m in conversation with someone and/or time is of the essence.

– email checks 3X a day max except work emails while at work.

– change notification settings so I don’t get any phone alerts when texts or emails arrive.

– use apps only for “necessities,” meaning: navigation, weather report, my schedule, checking on important work-related stuff, writing notes, accessing my bank accounts, getting the news, mapping my runs. (I know I am pushing the definition of necessity.)

– use social media only for work, except Facebook no more than 1X per week and for no more than five minutes at a time.

– no mindless Internet browsing – must have an objective in mind when online. Once that objective is met, get. the. !@#%*$. off.

Good rules, no? I’m going to see how it goes and reassess in a few weeks.

Comments welcome!

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