Last month I read this article by Jane C. HU:
[…] I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I said “g2g,” or even “bye,” in an online conversation. I asked some friends in a group chat if they ever say goodbye when chatting digitally. “They never really have a beginning. Do they also not have an end?” said my friend Dan. Another friend, Mitch, chimed in with a diagnosis: “It’s because we never go offline anymore.”
It’s so obvious yet surprising. Who isn’t surrounded by devices with ubiquitous access to the Internet? I am and so are you. Heck, even my grandpa has an iPhone for FaceTime. Some of us even strapped tiny computers to our wrist 4 years ago.
It’s not good. At least the part of being plugged all day. I stopped wearing Apple Watch on weekends. I also turned off notifications for both Slack and Mail entirely a bazillion years ago1.
That’s all good until I get an Apple News notification about Trump, or a friend texting me about something on YouTube, and so on. You get the idea.
Part of this problem for me is that I still love my gadgets fondly. I enjoy writing this on my iPad Pro and being bombarded by cat videos—it’s every man dream come true. It wasn’t always like this.
The era of the Internet was up and rising when I was born, but I had no access to high speed Internet for most of my childhood. And then even after that no celular data until I started college.
So how the fuck I made this bearable before? Is it possible to learn this power?
The Holy Grail
The first iPhone I ever saw in the wild was an iPhone 3G2. It blew me away instantly. It was black magic (It wasn’t long until I saved enough to get my first MacBook and began coding apps). I couldn’t afford one, of course. When a door closes, a window opens: Mom got me one if not the most beloved gadget ever: The iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch was the best for a number of reasons:
- iPhone without the phone. No texting, no data, all the goodies.
- Beautiful design. Both hardware and software-wise3.
Nostalgia aside, it was all I ever wished for. It truly did it job as an iPod: I listened to music all day—even better if it was in class. It kept me focused when I needed to work and study, and it was a blast to play the rest of the time!
I did found myself in the need of such device. Something that doesn’t vibrate4 or make me uneasy with notifications. Free of distractions. No Safari. And please, no Instagram.
You could now say: “Well, this is stupid. Just get some books! Maybe get a Kindle.”. And you’d be correct, for the most part. But remember, I’m a gadget nerd. Even worse, I’m also a designer. I like nice things 5.
So here are some new gadgets I’ve been trying so far:
I got my first one for cheap on eBay a couple of years back. I never had one as a kid, and boy what I was missing. I consider this to be the bonsai of gaming consoles.
Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a gamer, you’ll enjoy the heck of Tetris and Dr. Mario.
iPod 5th generation
There’s so much to love about this iPod6. You just need to be willing to dangle cables down your ears, move your finger across the click wheel and ear that sweet tick tick tick sound.
You can’t get Apple Music or Spotify on this one, but that’s okay. It’s a feature. You can even try to fit your entire music library with an iFlash Adapter.
Just take a walk with them and Do Not Disturb turned on. Maybe play some Pink Floyd—or whatever rocks your boat. It’s even better if you leave your phone behind and pair them with an Apple Watch.
I’m no Richard Stallman. Despite the effort I do visit social media often, and I still depend on my iPhone on a daily basis. Try enabling Screen Time though. I find myself picking my phone a lot less after limiting Tweetbot, Apollo, and Instagram.
The bottom line here is that you can always find new ways to unplug. Just try to put your iPhone away whenever you can. For me, time is better spent with family (and old gadgets).