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comment by rezzeJ
rezzeJ  ·  905 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I've decided to reclaim my life – by using an old Nokia phone

These articles are always about how the author gave up their phone teetotal and it was such revelation in their life. And it implies it's this darn piece of technology that is the problem. But ultimately, the phone doesn't function without the user, so really the phone is exposing faults with the user rather than the other way around. So by taking the all or nothing approach, they don't actually solve the source of the issue, which is themselves.

This is highlighted by a passage from near the end of the article:

    But access is still there: when cell service is poor, or I need to check email, or want to video the kids, or get a photo from my wife, I fire the smartphone up. I get a quick shot of dopamine and I feel immediately guilty. So I do what I need and turn it off. I estimate I'm using the thing 65% to 80% less.

It's like: "don't look at the it in the eyes for too long, lest it sucker you in and turn you into an instant gratification zombie!" And the author continues to exist as someone who is prone to being exploited by the types of the mechanics that the technology uses. Granted, the apps have been purposely designed to exploit weaknesses in the human condition, as we've seen exposed in various articles over the last year or so. But those problems are still the person's. And with education, awareness, and discipline they can be overcome.

With regards to that, I think a more interesting article would be about an 'internet addict' who tries to deal with their problems with a more considered approach, rather than just banning themselves from using their smartphone. They could learn about what it that hooks them into the repetitive cycles and gain awareness of themselves and their tendencies. Then through this, they learn to use the technology responsibly and still reap all it's benefits, whilst also growing as a person.

I'm reminded of that episode of South Park where a 'miracle' statue doesn't cure Randy of his 'addiction' to social drinking, and there's this bit of dialogue between him and Stan:

    Randy: I'm sorry, son! I'm off the wagon!

    Stan: Dad, you don't have to do this! You have the power. You haven't drank since seeing the statue.

    Rand: But the statue wasn't a miracle!

    Stan: Yeah. The statue wasn't a miracle, Dad. So that means you did it. That means you didn't have a drink for five days all on your own.

    Randy: You're right, Stan. If God didn't make me stop drinking then... I did. Maybe... Maybe I can force myself to never drink again.

    Stan: No!

    Randy: No??

    Stan: Dad, you like to drink. So have a drink once in a while. Have two. If you devote your whole life to completely avoiding something you like, then that thing still controls your life and you've never learned any discipline at all.

    Randy: But, maybe... I'm just the kind of person who needs to have it all or nothing.

    Stan: Naw. All or nothing is easy. But learning to drink a little bit, responsibly, that's a discipline. Discipline comes from within.

Having said all that, I've been using a dumbphone for about 4 years. I used to own a much loved Nexus 4 until I dropped and broke it. I switched a to a dumbphone temporarily and then just never got around to upgrading. Though I do have a tablet which I guess heavily offsets not having a smartphone (though it doesn't have mobile data).

I'll tell you most annoying thing about dumbphones though. It's when those god-darn filthy smartphone using whippersnappers don't check their technological privilege and decide to send what should be a single message over about 10 separate lines using their fancy pants messaging apps. You know what happens? Each one comes through as an individual text message and clogs up the inbox of my dumb egg phone.

user-inactivated  ·  904 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree with you for the most part, though I think where we might differ would be about here . . .

    Granted, the apps have been purposely designed to exploit weaknesses in the human condition, as we've seen exposed in various articles over the last year or so. But those problems are still the person's. And with education, awareness, and discipline they can be overcome.

One of the things I think we sell short is, just how incredibly well designed some of the websites and programs are designed to keep us hooked on them. Facebook, World of Warcraft, Reddit, just to name a few. Like bars and casinos, retail outlets, etc., these places design themselves to benefit from the vulnerabilities we have in our way of thinking and reinforce behavior that benefits these types of business, even if these same behaviors are detrimental to us as individuals.. Some people are more resistant than others, just like not everyone will have problems with substance abuse in their lives, but for those that do it's a very real problem.

While I think discipline is great, education is great, moderation is great, we need to recognize two things. One, for some people, abstinence is the easiest route and that that's an okay decision for them to make. If they think the benefits of total abstinence outweighs the benefits of using a device or service, that's their choice. Besides, they might be right. By not having to worry about a problem at all, they free themselves to focus on more important things in life, such as jobs and families and personal growth.

More importantly though, at least in America, there is an underlying social thread of characterizing people who suffer from problems of addiction, whether it's substance addiction, gambling addiction, what have you, as being due to moral and spiritual failings. This creates a stigmatization where people become reluctant to admit they have a problem, public discourse about these types of problems are unfairly tilted, etc., and as a result, creates personal and social barriers that potentially prevent people from addressing and resolving the problems they face.

While I'm not trying to say that Internet or Smartphone Addiction is anywhere near as severe as something like Opioid addiction, I still think it's important to discuss the issue and how it affects people in a balanced way.

rezzeJ  ·  904 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Total abstinence from a negative influence is definitely better than no action at all and I didn't meant to imply otherwise. Regardless of what other approaches there are, it is nonetheless a positive choice to make.

    One, for some people, abstinence is the easiest route and that that's an okay decision for them to make.

I agree that abstinence is the easiest route. It is almost the most immediately beneficial. But my point was that, in this case, the harder route is even more beneficial to the person in the long run. Because they not only get to grow as person and reclaim their lives, but they also get to utilise all the beneficial things having a smartphone can enable. And I don't understand why people wouldn't want to aspire to grow and conquer themselves this way versus taking the easiest route of total abstinence.

As such, I think it's that sort of attitude these sorts of articles should be more often promoting. Though I do acknowledge that a period of abstinence can be stepping stone towards this approach.

On the other hand, after reading some more articles on the issues, I can see that I undersold the power these mechanisms can hold over people. I guess I speak from a position of privileged in that these things have never seemed to have as much grip over me as the authors of these articles say it does for them. So what seems like hard but achievable ideal for me, may for them be mountain whose peak is out of view.

So yes, at the end of the day, any action that removes negative influence from a person's life is worth promoting.