Dear Smartphone, STFU!

It’s 3:15 pm and I’m at work typing away as fast as I possibly can, juggling between two screens trying to complete an important assignment.

My phone beeps and it’s CricInfo. India lost another test match. Shit! I bet the batsmen let us down again. Let me quickly check.

20 minutes later. Back to the assignment. Aaghh, need to complete this before I leave today.

Beep. I was tagged to a Facebook post by the girl I’m currently crushing on. Aah bliss!

25 minutes of in and out from Whatsapp later. Back to the assignment.

Random beeps from InShorts, Snapchat, Instagram and six other apps later. I now have the choice to either work late or submit a rather poorly completed assignment or push this off until tomorrow. I chose the last option.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I have always had a reputation for replying back to messages almost instantly and up until now, I considered that to be a good thing. It meant I was always accessible to anyone who wanted to reach me. It also meant that if you were connected to me via Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat, etc. you had the license to distract me from whatever I was doing, anytime at your convenience.

I’ve been trying to develop a habit of questioning everything that I do to analyze how each task adds or takes away from my life. So I literally sat down to think about how I use my phone. Our phones, the internet, and all these amazing little apps were all made to ensure that we have our loved ones and all kinds of information literally at our fingertips for whenever we want to access them. But somehow the, “whenever we want to access them” part got lost and that is not how it should be. Random companies shouldn’t get to decide how and when I use my phone, right?

I immediately went into my phone’s settings and switched off all notifications except for the red circles that appear on the app icons when there is a notification there for you to see. My mind started revolting almost immediately – but what if something big is happening around the world. How would I get to know about it? But what if it’s urgent and someone wants to reach me?

If it’s urgent enough, they’d call you.

Initially, I kept reaching for my phone every few minutes to see if any of those red circles had appeared but gradually the need to check my phone started fading away. It felt really good this one day while working when I realized that I hadn’t reached out to my phone for almost 5 hours. 5 hours of solid work. To top this all off, my break time now is an absolute pleasure. I get to jump into the conversations and consume all the information waiting for me in the form of those little red dots with numbers on them. Only this time, intentionally.
Plus I never have to deal with posts like this anymore.

But in all seriousness, I’m becoming more and more certain with every passing day that our phones are making us more prone to distraction and reducing our ability to focus on things. What do you think?

Tag someone, so they have to open their phone to read this post and reflect on how they use their phone.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    javier bellido
    February 2, 2018 at 2:21 am

    I totally agree! To me, it was quite useful to replace all the social apps with their web based counterparts, so good bye notifications!

    Now I just use social media when I have some spare time to waste or when I really need to procrastinate.

    • Reply
      Viren Baid
      February 5, 2018 at 11:44 am

      That’s a good idea Javier. I’ll also replace some of the apps with their web counterparts. Thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    Naveen Kulkarni
    February 5, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    The smartphone is a double-edged sword. While it makes it a very effective tool for digital marketers like us, at the same time it sweetly robs a lot of our time from real life and hangs us inside the virtual world.

    Moderation is key of course.

    • Reply
      Viren Baid
      February 6, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Couldn’t agree more with you Naveen.

  • Reply
    Jyri
    February 24, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    I agree. I have removed all apps I do not need from my smartphone. So it beeps only if I receive normal call or message. I deleted Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter yesterday. Also I deleted account to a shop I used to buy something because of free delivery at all prices. I don’t need that.

    I felt ridiculous before and afterwords of deleting Facebook account, not just deactivating it, but deleting. Before that I asked some people that matters a phone number so we can talk and actually meet! In general smartphones are making friendships worse. Why to meet them at cup of tea, if you just can send one as a gif in messenger?

    Facebook used too much of my time, to like photos, to like pages, to comment artists I like in music they do – but no one really cares let’s face it. I love their music hard enough just by listening it from Google Music. Do I need to say that so anyone can hear? I am not saying that delete of accounts you have no use is right for you.

    But you may feel lighter and better without them. At least remove these apps from your phone. I also can’t understand people that are in a hurry to buy a new phone all the time. I mean it’s the same fear of missing out. But the phone I have now, it was 149 €, almost 2 Years old and it is still fast enough for my needs.

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