A lot of my perspective has changed since the last blog post, which was around 3 months ago. I'm starting to see the use of digital technology in less of black or white terms, as I historically have in my posts: the phone and internet addict, wired into the constant happenings of the world is hopeless, uninspiring, robotic, fake, and a complete drone to our hyper-capitalistic society. While the nature-loving, "rewilder" is humane, full of force and spirit, strong-willed, productive, and desirable.
Not entirely true, and achieving the technology-free archetype won't be as satisfying or gratifying to my life as I think it may be. The techno-industrial system is impossible to escape, despite what Ted Kaczynski claims. Sure, it may destroy itself, but destruction is inevitable with everything, and I doubt it will occur before I'm old and ready to die anyway. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft -- they're here to stay.
I don't need to get rid of my smartphone and my laptop. I need to get goddamn disciplined. And technology can help me make this an easier and more effective endeavor.
What I've stopped doing
- I've stopped idolizing the off-the-grid lifestyle. I still fantasize living on a quiet, moderately-sized piece of land surrounded by nature, but you're damn sure I'm having some form of Internet access when I get there. Don't get me wrong - I'm still highly cynical about the dystopia we live in, and the kids in my generation who are out-of-touch with reality and distracted by petty things...but the Internet...it's an invaluable resource.
- I've stopped trying to downgrade all my technology just for the sake of downgrading. I spent a month with a Nokia 2720 Flip. I like the thing - how it feels nostalgically, the buttons... but it's highly inconvenient. If I'm gonna have technology around, it ought to serve me a purpose. I told people I had a flip phone and they send me long ass texts regardless, expecting me to send a long ass text back. Some of my voicemails didn't come through. Google Maps didn't provide live directions, and I was unable to install important apps such as Calm (meditation app) and Garmin Connect (for my fitness watch). Couldn't even get a podcast app either (which I don't see as important, but I see it as a better, more fulfilling form of entertainment). Plus, it didn't even decrease my screen time -- my problem relies in surfing on my LAPTOP, not my PHONE. I hardly ever spend time on my phone. I spent less than an hour on my iPhone today.
- I've stopped hiding away from major corporations for the sake of anonymity and digital privacy. As stated in the last bullet point, technology I've since gotten from the last time is an iPhone SE (1st gen) and a vivoactive 3. Apple and Garmin, massive data-collecting tyrants! I even took advantage of the Windows education license my school gives me, the entire Microsoft Office suite, and OneDrive to store all my notes! I even have a Google account for its.... *gasp* ....calendar (and offline maps)! I'm finding that in order to live a low-tech lifestyle, you need to be able to utilize technology efficiently. And efficiency has trumped privacy for me - I'd rather not spend more time encrypting my files, and fussing around with some sub-optimal free/open-source software, and just DO THE THING I need to do, with whatever software is easiest and makes the most sense to use. However -- I'm still very much anti-social media, and I don't see myself ever making an account on any platform whatsoever. I don't have an Amazon account either, and have no plans to support that company also. Although I have a Google account, I don't use YouTube at all. I don't music or video stream and prefer to have my files saved offline.
What I'm continuing doing
- I'm continuing the idea of a digital detox. Cold Turkey Blocker has since updated its software with a variety of lock options and other settings. Right now, I'm blocking all social media, Reddit, YouTube, and other forums I frequent sometimes. I'm blocking online shopping platforms, such as Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy -- though I don't plan on EVER buying anything from Amazon again, it's easy to get swept away without an account, browsing at all the products they have in their catalog. After 8pm, I block all browser use except websites related to schoolwork.
- I'm continuing the idea of deep work. I'm unsure if I ever blogged about this before, but Cal Newport, to me, is a productivity inspiration. I'm taking online summer classes so I can graduate earlier, and the idea of undistracted and focused periods of study is crucial to me getting work done. This includes keeping my space tidy, reducing the threats of distractions, and planning out my tasks for the day.
- I'm continuing exercise and meditation. Self-explanatory.
What I've started doing
- I've started doing therapy. The turn of events that followed quarantine had me into a mess. I've spent a lot of time thinking and feeling a lot these past couple of months. It helps having someone to talk about your complex, spiraling, confusing inner-universes. It's easy to delude yourself when you are alone.
- I've started paying less for my phone bill. Though I said my phone wasn't much of a problem anyway, I downgraded my phone plan and now I pay $10/mo. for 500 texts, call minutes, and MB of 4G data. On an iPhone! It's pretty rad, saving money and all. I don't need a lot of minutes for texts now considering more than half the people I know use iMessage, and I don't text or call much anyway. The data is only for emergency use and I never turn it on.
- I've started doing. Yes, this summer I'm attempting to not be a lazy sack. I'm working on optimizing and organizing my life with various productivity tools. I'm into the quantified self movement, as I like seeing charts and graphs about my personal habits. I'm doing summer reading programs, journaling. I'm taking classes and getting ideas about my next steps after college. My family takes me out to drive and I finally will take the driving test to get my license in the near future. I'm slowly modifying my diet to be more supportive of my fitness goals (currently doing couch to 5k!)
Basically, life is always a work in progress. Don't get me wrong, I'm super bored for the majority of the day. But I'm open to try new things, explore, and I'm becoming more comfortable with who I am. I took the 16personalities test, which I have done in the past -- I've always tested as an INFP, but I took it again a couple of months ago and I'm now consistently an INTP. Although some may say it's pseudoscience, I'd say it provides a pretty accurate insight into who I am, what I do, and how I interact with others. My new 'label,' as it may be, is a lot fitting to me, and it's helped me make these recent changes. Often, when it comes to self-improvement, we try to match the habits of another, but cognitively it simply is near-impossible to become this idealized, workaholic figure who you thought you could be after reading a self-help book. And the same goes for this idea of a forest fairy, tree-hugging Neanderthal that I thought I could be, after severely limiting the use of technology. Ah, well.