In the past six months, I transformed my iPhone into a flip phone.
We are all witnesses to how these tiny objects reduce social interaction. A lack of social interaction leads to a decrease of social skills. Why have a conversation with a stranger when I can text to someone I know? Why put effort into continuing the conversation at dinner when I can go on Facebook? Why meet up with the girl I have a crush on when I can send her a text? Why spend time educating my young child when I can give him an iPad?
A phone creates a blockade from the real world.
I realized I only needed my phone to communicate. About six months ago, I deleted Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. Why? One, because I downloaded an app called Moments which tells you how much time you spend on your phone. I was disgusted with myself. Two, because the social media network that I had wrongfully built for myself was more of an unnecessary cut throat competition than a positive place. Who could edit their photo better to create an illusion of what they looked like? Who had more wealth? Who was in better shape? It all seemed a race to reach a level of perfection that is portrayed by a modern day "flawless" celebrity.
The first couple weeks I felt left out. I'd listen to my friends referring to a post that I didn't know about. To combat the fomo, I would re-download the apps once a week to catch up on what I had missed. What I realized was that all the posts that I'd spend hours a day reviewing only were about fifteen minutes worth of content. The bite sized dopamine hits that social media produces turned me into an addict. It got to the point where I would catch my fingers moving to where the apps were previously located without consciously thinking about it.
As time progressed, I stop re-downloading the apps. I realized that it didn't add value to the quality of my life. The people that I wanted to keep in touch with, I did. I spent less time on my phone than I ever had.
Fast forward to August and I noticed another pattern with my phone usage. Replaced with the addiction to social media were three applications: Mail, Safari, and Spotify. I deleted them. I'd find myself checking my Mail twenty times a day. I'd listen to the same song over and over again on Spotify. I found myself looking up useless information on my phone while being mid conversation with a human being. What I came to realize, was that like social media these three apps provided minimal value. I only need to check my email about twice a day. Listening to the same song took time away from the learning I wanted to do via Podcasts and AudioBooks. And as far as surfing online goes, if I had to look something up, I'd add it to my notes and do it when in front of my laptop. Deleting Safari created a filter for spending less time looking at things that didn't matter.
I am the proud owner of a phone without Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Mail, Spotify, and Safari. While this may not be best for everyone, it helped me focus on human interaction and keep me unplugged for a few hours a day.