I'm a recovering notification addict

I'm a recovering notification addict

I'm a recovering addict. Maybe you are too. My drugs of choice were short-form videos on the internet and little notification bell icons. My dealer was Facebook, Instagam and Snapchat. I haven't used TikTok lately. TikTok spies on you. And they're from China. I wanted to be spied on by my country at least. So Instagram it was.

On Instagram, my friends would send me funny memes, cool cars, cute animals and short videos of DJ Khaled yelling inane phrases like "TELL EM TO BRING OUT THE WHOLE OCEAN!". Snapchat gave short but unnecessary updates from friends on mundane activities of their day (and mine too). Facebook is awful but I run a few Facebook groups, so I got in the habit of moderating from my phone.

When you've got a magical piece of glass strapped in your pocket with high-speed data, it can be a recipe for distraction. In a long line? Pop that phone out and consume some short-form videos. Oh shit, these videos are so good that now you gotta send them to your friend Andrew, he'd really enjoy it. Soon, you're rotating between apps in your downtime, pulling the feed down like a slot arm and hoping for something good.

And then something magical happened

I went on an Alaskan cruise. Now I'm calmer than a monk, enlightened and wordly. Nah jk, I'm basically the same, but less addicted now. A few things did happen that helped me break free from the crutches of social media fiefdom were to lose internet, stare at some mountains and read a book.

Cruise Boats are immense floating hotels full of abundance and hedonism. There's constant comedy shows, bars every 300 feet and insane amounts of junk food. I really enjoyed A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace, written in 1997 but still accurate. Despite the negatives, cruises have some upside and I'd get on another one day.

One upside to cruise boats is that they are one of the places that internet is still not abundant in the world. They do have internet, but it's like $200 and slow af. I mean yeah, Elon is installing Starlink in these behemoths and soon the day will come when we've covered every square inch of the world in high-speed access.

I didn't have internet access for 2 days at one point. It was stressful! And then it was awesome. It broke my habit of constantly checking, checking for updates.

Then we got into port and of course I checked for updates. But there was nothing "good" I had missed as I assumed. The memes were still there, the group chat was piling up, my notifications were maxed out. None of it was earth-shattering, the world was still churning. Cool.

There's (probably) nothing good in here 

We got into port at Skagway and one of our excursions was the White Pass and Yukon Route train ride. This thing has a ton of history but the tl;dr is that it's a long railroad and you can ride it for nearly 3 hours and even stand outside on the platform and stare at mountains. It's peaceful. It's awe-inspiring. Doctor Phil should send troubled teens here rather than to his ranch. I'd recommend it.

Later in Ketchican, I bought an incredibly depressing but eye-opening book called 4000 weeks. The gist is: life is short and most of us don't realize it. I don't agree with all of it's points but reading it after staring at nature was impactful.

I want to get cool, aspirational shit done in life. Life is made of moments and why was I burning so many of them watching DJ Khaled ask everyone to go golfing? It's time to exit the matrix.

The Remedy

I deleted Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook from my phone. I still have Twitter and Reddit but they'll be on the chopping block too if they become a problem. I use my laptop for most social media things now and I check maybe twice a day or so now.

Tim Apple just announced the Iphone 15. I have a 12 Pro Max. It's been stomped on in mosh pits, waterboarded with coffee and dropped on concrete in every position possible. Still works great. Every 6 months, I buy a new case on Amazon for 15 bucks and replace the glass screen protector (which is usually spidered with cracks). Boom, new phone! At least it feels that way to me. I'm giving the big tech cartel less funding.

My phone is a tool. I use it to keep connected with loved ones and friends and send email for life stuff and side businesses. I'm the operator, I tell the computer what to do, not the inverse.

I still like dumb memes and notifications, I just tapered my flow of them. I try to be bored more. I feel way better.

Read More

Perhaps your reaction to this post is "haha no shit! Of course these things are bad for us." Well done! For others, maybe you have considered re-evaluating your relationship with your phone and social media. This topic isn't new. Some places to read up are:

Deceptive Patterns:

A website glossary of ways large tech companies use "dark patterns" for everything from marketing to the "slot machine" mechanics of the Facebook feed.

Deceptive Patterns - Home
Deceptive patterns (also known as “dark patterns”) are tricks used in websites and apps that make you do things that you didn’t mean to, like buying or signing up for something.

A great book on how we can get the types of work we want to do done in the distraction age


A book on becoming less distracted. I've heard great things.