5 + 1 Reasons Why I hate Screens, Social Media, and Mobile Phones
The day before yesterday I was looking at some old photos, from the first years I was a student in Berlin. Then I ended up looking at old emails and chat logs.
One thing that impressed me, from what I saw, was a very different sense than existed then in our moments.
I will explain what I mean.
For those who remember, the old chat systems were very different. In MSN messenger let’s say: You send messages to your friends only in front of the computer. In your house, that is. Then, when you went out for a walk, you did not take MSN with you. At that time, mobile phones had a phone book, not even the Nokia snake. In terms of messaging, no SMS, and so on.
Those old chats had a different quality. It was a small part of the day, where we chatted with our friends on quiet nights when we had no appetite to talk on the phone. And at the end of the conversation, we greeted them, saying that “we logged out”.
Respectively, we took our old photos for ourselves. Maybe we posted none on Facebook, but again from our home computer.
Today, no one logs out. When you leave your computer, your conversation continues on your cell phone. Each of our chats is a continuous, great conversation that follows us day and night through the alarm sounds of our mobile phones. And we do not take the photos for ourselves until we choose a good one to post. We take them out directly through the viewfinders of Stories, intended only for the consumption of foreigners, without even keeping them stored for us.
Maybe that’s why I remember at that time it had a different air. As if our minds were clearer then. As if we did not always have a head full of unnecessary information.
Somehow, in recent years, especially while living in Berlin, I have noticed myself living longer in Messenger conversations than in the real world. To exist through the Stories he posted on Instagram. To determine his sense of reality through Google News that reloaded every ten minutes.
I woke up and the first thing I did was grab my cell phone and check the feeds. At night, I would fall asleep, closing the screen of my cell phone. Only when I slept I did not look at a cell phone screen. And even then, or until I fall asleep, what else could I have in mind if not what I saw on a screen a few minutes earlier.
At one point, I felt my body react. Every cell of me was shouting that this thing was sick. But this is not a stereotypical article to tell you how to turn off the cell phone to become more productive. I felt for the productivity. And this is a fairy tale. Another trap. The subject I want to talk about is our soul.
Man is not a device to always be connected. Man is not made to pretend to be a professional celebrity living his life under the lens of his mobile phone.
Until seven or eight years ago, we entered the Internet under pseudonyms and today we are afraid that we will NOT publicly share the place where we are in a story, lest our followers forget us.
The change was insidious but fast. And before we knew it, we became victims of our complacency, with 500 followers who see us as part of a series of consumable stories and with zero true friends.
What I mean is that people once smoked cigarettes and thought it was good for the lungs. This is what the tobacco companies said in their advertisements: “Smoke Marlboro, to get rid of your cough”. The cigarette was fashionable, magical, and healthy. But millions of people had to die from its side effects to get to today and what is considered “common sense”.
I say, very simply, that the current relationship of the average person with his cell phone and social media is a disease. It causes “cancer of the soul”: countless psychological problems from the constant comparison with thousands of strangers, the need to respond to the river of stories by projecting our moments and alienation through the eternal chats,
And the only way to avoid it is to finally learn to put limits on our relationship with mobile and technology.
5 + 1 things I did to find balance with mobile and technology
Feeling all this, I started last year to make a series of changes in my relationship with technology. Some acted immediately, others still need time. Altogether, in ascending order of invasiveness, are the following:
1.I closed all the (unnecessary) notifications on the mobile
The many small alerts are one of the main mechanisms by which social media causes us to become addicted. Our mind combines the sound of notification with a “social energy” directed at us (eg someone like). So, we turn on the cell phone and take a small dose of dopamine.
Of course, once we turn on the phone, the feed awaits us with extra fresh content to scroll through, which will eat another ten minutes of our lives before we put the phone in our pocket. But then comes the next notification and again from the beginning…
Personally, I have closed the notifications for years. If I wanted to see the likes I got (lol), I would open Instagram five times a day and watch them together.
The only notifications that make sense are:
Chat messages, since, in theory, you want to know when someone sent you
Important emails, since Gmail filters out what it thinks are ads
So, I have everything else turned off and, frankly, my cell phone has ceased to be a distraction and noise generator.
2. I unfollowed 90% of the people/pages I followed
Social media creates a strange fear of missing out: that if you do not follow everything you will lose something important. In time I realized that not only did this not happen, but on the contrary, 90% of “content producers” just filled my head with rubbish.
And with a good unfollow pass, the chance of a click-bait eating up my time decreases dramatically and makes services like Facebook lose interest.
In my opinion, you need aggression in unfollowing, since on the one hand, the purpose is to reduce the content that comes out in front of you, and on the other hand, you can follow everyone again if you feel their lack.
3. I stopped posting photos — and started sending them to my real friends
Did I see anything interesting? My first thought was to post it in a public story. Until I realized that this need is silly: No one cared about what I posted, as it was just another story in the hundreds. And, of course, like all of us, in some subconscious way, I was trying to adapt to a general aesthetic that I knew I liked.
Sounds silly, because it is.
The alternative I chose is to send things I liked through chat, to individual real friends, who would anyway be the only ones who would be interested, or with whom I would talk. So, very quickly I lost the spontaneous need to post on the cover what I see in front of me, as if I make money from it…
4. I deleted most of the apps from my mobile and used their web versions
Have you ever wondered why all the companies insist on downloading their app from entering the browser?
There are two reasons:
- The first is that through an application they record much more data about our behavior than through a site.
- The second is that they can send us notifications.
If, for example, you do not log in to Instagram for hours, the application will send you a notification in phase: “Did you see the perfect content that was published in the last hours?” to pull you back.
The more attention you pay to apps, the more companies know about you, the more ads they show you, and therefore the more money they make.
Without the app installed, however, you will only enter the services when you want and no one will bother you with stupid notifications.
Also, because the browser experience is always a bit worse than the app, you will get rid of it more easily than any social app and you will leave your mobile aside sooner.
5. I stopped picking up my cell phone in the bedroom
The trick to any insidious addiction is to find its trigger points and deactivate them.
Addictions are habits/systems. If you try to go against the food having in front of you the whole menu of the tavern, then it is like putting them with each head of Lernaean Hydra at the same time. Such problems are solved by cutting them from the root.
When it comes to food, it is easier not to bring chocolates and sweets home than to have them in front of you and fight not to eat them.
Similarly, if you go to bed with your mobile phone in hand, it is almost a given that you will fall asleep watching YouTube videos.
I say this because I have done it dozens of times and I regret each one of them, seeing the next day dawn, without having learned or seen anything important in between.
Good sleep is one of our most important weapons for a healthy and balanced life. No matter how much he was fought for years by the ass-hustlers, who sold us as a model the hypothetical CEOs who slept 2 hours a day, we always see scientific research and practical examples that make it clear that without sleep we lead to health and psychological problems.
Still, half an hour before we go to sleep is a rare opportunity to clear our minds, think about what happened during the day, and close our eyes calmly. With a cell phone, we sabotage it.
So, the trick I do now is to let my cell phone (silently) charge in another room of the house, away from me. So, whatever need I have to google-eat something just before bed (the day before yesterday I wanted to look for shortwave transponders) I just have to keep it in my mind and see it the next day.
And truly, it does me good.
6. I deactivated Instagram
Social media companies are full of tricks to keep you glued. Instagram, let’s say, has a whole chat in its application to be afraid that if you delete it you will lose contact with all your friends who use it.
With mass unfollow, Facebook was for me just a feed for tech news and a tool to use the Pages and Groups of my blogs. Instagram, though, I admit: It was addictive.
Not only to post stories, which for some periods I did every day but even more so for his Explore feed which is something like an “algorithmic drug”. Just open it, to get hundreds of posts that know they catch your attention and eat half an hour on the screen without realizing it.
Obviously, the first step I took was to delete the app from my mobile. I entered Instagram from the browser, which was much more inconvenient, but I definitely ate much less time on it.
With all the addictive apps deleted, however, whenever I felt bored, my hand would go and automatically open Instagram in the browser. So, I come up with ideas, and to see them flush it out, it’s really fun. And especially in times like the last time I was going through big (and difficult) changes in my life, seeing the made-up highlights of dozens of people who seemingly lived a life of partying and joy made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
Of course, the only thing I was wrong about was sitting and comparing myself to fake images, and one in a hundred.
Just because having your friends’ stories flow daily, puts you in a situation where you feel obligated to post something, otherwise, it’s kind of like staying out of the game. But 95% of my Instagram friends have not seen them in the real world in years, if ever.
All these thoughts were the culmination of my disgust for social media and mobile screens. So, since I did not want to delete my account permanently, I just deactivated it.
A month later, I do not miss anything. I have not lost touch with any real friends. I do not burn to look stupid memes in exploring. I do not compare my life with anyone else. I do not feel any obligation to update my life through photos.
Let’s say that, with the cell phone in my hand for much fewer hours, I feel much better now than before.
Some nights, in fact, I felt like when I was twenty years old. I found myself lying on my bed again, without my cell phone in my hand, with the radio playing slowly next to me, and thinking clearly about things that really concerned me.
True thoughts about my own life, coming from my own, I want internally, without comparisons and external distractions.
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