Alexandru Huțu: Disconnect

Sometimes, every one of us needs to disconnect. To turn off the devices that take over our lives without us even noticing.

Smartphones are amazing little pieces of technology, supercomputers in your pocket, ready to snap a photo, chat with a stranger, slay some zombies or check the weather forecast within a maximum of two taps. I am by no means writing off their usefulness in this busy world we’re living in, but we have to contain our addiction. You see people walking down the street staring at their phones, instead of looking around and taking in the surroundings, no matter how mundane. You are part of this world, so act like it. Look around, maybe you’ll notice something interesting or run into an old friend. I think that this video explains it best.

For the longest time, I’ve been guilty of doing this myself. I used to have dozens of apps that I thought were amazing eating through all my free time. I was even obsessed with the way my phone’s home screen was arranged and I used to watch an excessive amount of videos on topics surrounding apps and things to waste my precious time on. But one day, I’d had enough. It got so bad that I picked up my phone the second I woke up just to check for messages. It was the first thing I reached for. So I decided I needed a change.

I went online and ordered the cheapest Nokia “dumbphone” I could find. I took the SIM card out of my iPhone and stuck it into the Nokia. Suddenly, I stopped picking up my phone every 5 minutes and only used it a couple of times a day when I needed to make a call or write an important text. I had used the dumbphone for a bit over a week and everything was peachy. I was happy with it, although I needed to carry an additional iPod if I wanted to listen to some music on the bus and I couldn’t take any photos.

I had stopped using an incredibly useful device just because I couldn’t control myself to use it appropriately. The ability to listen to music, to take a few photos here and there (I’ve been into photography for years) or even to write something down when an idea strikes make a smartphone invaluable. I was at a dead end.

I proceeded to delete all the apps on my iPhone but a few essential ones (such as Google Maps, Kindle and Day One). This way, it was difficult for me to procrastinate with the handful of apps that I had left and I could use my smartphone as the amazingly useful tool it is. However, every now and then, I get the urge to download some app and, along the way, I start to spend more and more time on my smartphone once again. Therefore, whenever I feel like I’m using it too much, I switch to the dumbphone for a few days to disconnect.

This might not be the best strategy, but it works for me. You could try and do the same if you lack the self-control and find yourself using your smartphone excessively.

Additional reading material:

Article about making your iPhone “distraction-free”;

Follow-up on the aforementioned article;

My Reddit post on this topic, with over one hundred comments.