films · inspiration · technology

My Social Dilemma

This morning, I was able to watch a documentary I have been interested in since I learned of its existence about a couple of weeks ago: The Social Dilemma. It’s available starting today on Netflix and I urge everyone to give it a watch. And when you do, put your phone on silent or even turn it off so you don’t get distracted because this throws a lot at you and will have you thinking about your social media usage and your relationship with your phone and technology by the time it’s over. It goes into great detail about how these social media apps actually work and the bubble that we are all in. It also discusses how we are products being sold. Some of the concepts were very obvious, but it felt that it needed to be addressed by people who worked with these systems and know how they work firsthand in order to really get it.

The Social Dilemma promotional image courtesy of Netflix

Honestly, this might be one of the scariest documentaries I have seen so far because it’s very real and it’s happening right now with no end in sight, or so it seems. Despite not wanting to, I saw myself too many times being described in this documentary. And it truly haunted me a little bit. I do have some hope with The Center for Humane Technology (https://www.humanetech.com/), which I definitely plan to learn more about in the near future! I already subscribed to their podcast!

As a result from watching this documentary, it really inspired me to look more at my phone usage and the apps I have on there. I deleted almost 50 apps today, as well as almost my entire photo gallery that was sadly, mostly full of memes I had saved while endlessly scrolling through the depths of Twitter.

So, which apps survived? Well, not a whole lot. I have what I would categorize as “essential apps”, like apps to pay my bills and an app for my bank account. I went down from about 14 photo editing apps to only one, PicsArt, which I use to edit my gaming screenshots for Instagram, which is the only social media app I have left on my phone. I debated keeping Twitter, but ultimately, it had to go. Apple Music and Play Music are also still on my phone, as well as Audible and the Google Podcast app for some nice, easy listening on breaks. I do have Ipsy, Amazon, Dunkin, and Starbucks apps on my phone as well… that can’t hurt, right?

Another thing that I did?

I turned off notifications for the apps that remain. I have text and phone notifications on, and that’s it. I don’t get a notification every single time I get an email, or someone “likes” something I posted. It’s been only 12 hours but let me tell you, it feels awesome. It’s sad to wonder what life was before all of this technology just… happened. You don’t need to always be online or be connected to live. I think it’s the opposite: you need to disconnect. Not even 100% or permanently, unless you want to, but just enough so that using these things becomes healthier.

This even rolled over to my Playstation 4. I cleared out the storage almost completely, deleting games I doubt I will ever play again or am completely done with. And it felt good! 

We’ll see how it goes. I’m wondering how much of an impact this has all had on my mental health. Time will tell.


PS: An interesting article popped up today about bringing back the old school “away message”, and seems relevant, check it out here!

inspiration · various life things

Decluttering Online: a small start.

With how things have ended up this year, there’s been more time to sit around and think about things that I normally wouldn’t have thought about since there hasn’t been as much to do the past few months. 

Things such as… why do I still have a last.fm account? Why do I subscribe to it for $3 USD a month just to change the scrobble tags since they never come out right? Why do I even waste my time doing this?

I used last.fm for a long time. It’s a good way to observe your listening habits across all (or most) platforms you would use to listen to music. I liked it because not all the artists I listen to are on streaming platforms (yet), so it was perfect to be able to see how many times I listened to all these artists.

But, is it really necessary? Especially when I was actually paying money just to change tags because they didn’t scrobble correctly? Hello? 

I got caught up in the whole STREAM STREAM STREAM thing and it really came to a head earlier this year when I realized I just didn’t care anymore to make the effort. I had templates saved for how to make playlists on Spotify and YouTube to get artists streaming numbers up. It’s not that I don’t care to stream my favorite artists, it’s that I want to stream them and have fun listening to them without worrying about the numbers and how many times I streamed X song. I realized that I was not having fun listening to music anymore. It was actually becoming stressful. Stressful to the point where I actually missed a ton of releases earlier this year because I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I deleted my last.fm account a couple months ago and it was a very freeing moment. I’m finally catching up on music releases and most importantly, I’m having fun!

Another thing I realized was how many subscription services I was actually subscribed to but wasn’t really using. I ended up getting rid of Disney+ (though, it will be back for the second season of The Mandalorian), and Hulu because I was barely using them. I also got rid of Spotify after also using them for years and am now with Apple Music because they have a much wider selection of Japanese pop music which I have gotten back into full force this year. And Apple Music is cheaper for me too since I’m still able to use a student discount. I did get rid of YouTube Premium for awhile, but it’s back now to get rid of political ads. Or maybe I shouldn’t be watching YouTube as much as I do so I wouldn’t have that problem.

For the platforms I did keep (Netflix, Prime and HBO Max only because I get it for free with my phone plan), I deleted my entire queue for each one and have started over completely with them. It has actually helped me find shows and movies to watch that I have ended up completely loving like Extracurricular on Netflix which I can’t recommend enough! Also, it’s not overwhelming anymore to log on to them and feel like I can’t find anything to watch among the thousands of options. 

The only thing I still need to work on is my video game backlog which just continues to grow everyday it seems like… always something to work on!