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.
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!