Think about this. Our thoughts are a commodity. Commercials flood our televisions and phone screens, companies vying for our attention. Advertisers have even found ways to shorten their commercials to 3 seconds before a youtube video! Then you have popular media culture, where social media apps like Facebook and Instagram have infinitive scrolling where you can drown yourself in other people’s lives. What we have in my generation is a group of young people segregated from time and space while they are locked into their phones and obsessed with materialism.
So what do we do?
When I realized I was spending more time in the virtual world than the actual, I made a series of steps.
- Turning off unnecessary notifications.
Turn off your Facebook and Instagram notifications. Those applications are tailor designed to draw you in by alerting you every time someone likes your picture. When this happens, you are flushed with a hit of dopamine and it gives you the urge to constantly interact more with the app. In reality, you only need to check the app a few times a day for important updates, and turning off notifications can help your self-control.
- Change your phone to grayscale.
I only did this just last night after watching a Facebook video by Vox. Ok, yes I realize the irony… but I swear I got off my phone after this video. Anyways, Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist says a simple cure for phone addiction is to turn your phone to grayscale. The idea is to get rid of the flashing colors that attract your eyes to certain applications. Red is used to stimulate hunger and desire, which is why fast food chains and your notification bubbles are all red! Without the color, your mind is not so easily ensnared by your phone content. The truth is, everything in grayscale looks awful, which of course is wonderful!
- Organizing your phone.
Okay, the second idea that Tristan Harris suggests which is organizing your apps so you only see the necessary ones first. What I have done is taken my social media apps, my games, and put them on the second page of my phone. When you do this, it makes it a teensy bit harder for you to decide to click on those addicting apps. The time it takes for you to swipe over to those apps gives your mind time to remind yourself to focus.
- Deleting distracting apps.
This is the last resort choice for those like me who don’t have self-control. Eventually, I found myself still unable to resist using Instagram for unhealthy amounts of time despite turning off notifications. I despised how much time I was wasting on the app so I made the final choice to delete the app. Eventually, it comes down to what you are willing to do to change your habits.
Why is this so important?
I’ve personally noticed that social media has made me careless with the physical time I spend with my friends and family. Social media creates a false sense of social participation when you like someone’s photo or status update, and it can make you feel closer to someone than you actually are. And social media ruins quality time with your friends, who can’t admit to checking social media while hanging out?
I can personally testify that making these changes to my phone have reaped dramatic benefits over the past few days. Without the distractions on my phone, I’m getting to sleep on time and then finding more creative power in myself. Proper sleep has also helped me make better conscious decisions and stay emotionally stable.
So what are you waiting for? Take back control of your life by stopping your screen addiction. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and are encouraged to make changes on your phone!