in Tech

Is your phone using you?

This post is an excerpt from my last newsletter, which you can read and subscribe to here.

Cal Newport—who you should be regularly reading—wrote a piece in The NY Times last year that is worth reading, or reading again.

In short, he suggests that the iPhone/smartphone should be used as a phone, iPod, and navigation device only. The fact that many of us have spent over a decade using these devices more than we should means that we don’t notice the way our phones have used us:

Under what I call the “constant companion model,” we now see our smartphones as always-on portals to information. Instead of improving activities that we found important before this technology existed, this model changes what we pay attention to in the first place — often in ways designed to benefit the stock price of attention-economy conglomerates, not our satisfaction and well-being.

We’ve become so used to the constant companion model over the past decade that it’s easy to forget its novelty.

“Instead of improving activities that we found important before this technology existed, this model changes what we pay attention to in the first place…”

Read more—hopefully not on your phone?—here.

The new year and my new rekindled relationship with Cal Newport means that I am back to using my phone in the most bare-bones way I know how.

In the midst of a busy fall I found myself adding email back to my phone most days. I am trying to avoid that again. (See #10 on my how to stop loving your phone post from two years ago.) I put together that list before I dropped all social media; I would still recommend removing social apps from your phone if you aren’t ready to quit cold turkey.