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How I made my iPhone dumber
Welcome to my minimalist hell.
My relationship with social media has always been love/hate. I love the idea of independent artists finding an audience without the help of corporate overlords. But I hate oversharing. Hate knowing everything about strangers. Hate the death of mystery.
But, boy, do I love the endorphins social media provides me! The likes, the retweets, the comments. It's a dangerous drug. One that leaves me with poor posture, dead eyes, and a low boil of anxiety.
It’s a drug I’ve tried to curtail with minimalist devices.
Every year, it happens without fail. There's a week when my phone becomes a REAL FUCKING PROBLEM. A week where I refresh Twitter obsessively and google things I don't recall 5 minutes later. During that week, my anxiety/depression shoots up.
And every year, I think, should I ditch the smartphone? Whenever I travel, my brain feels less anxious. I’m not checking social media as often. I’m taking in the sights, being present, reading more, y’know—living life.
So, what if I just ditched the fucking thing? Traded it in for a light phone or a punkt? AKA "Dumb" phones designed for “digital detoxing.” No social media, no safari browser, just texts and phone calls.
Every year I come to the same conclusion: using a “dumb phone” is more trouble than it’s worth, especially if you’re an Apple user. To use any dumb device, you have to disable iMessage. Which, for me, resulted in missing texts. Yep. Just. Gone. Forever.
So, I decided to make my iPhone dumber.
Join me in my stupidity!
Step 1. Go Black and White.
I read somewhere that the bright candy-colored icons on our phones are a big reason we’re inclined to interact with them so much. So, the first thing I did was eliminate color!
You can do so by going into:
Click on color filters and select "grayscale."
Step 2. Clean up & streamline your home screen.
What are the apps you REALLY need the most? (Social media should not be on this list). Whatever those ESSENTIAL apps are should be on your Home Screen, and that's it. No folders, no second screen.
As you remove apps from your home screen, select "remove from home screen” instead of deleting them outright. This keeps the apps in your App Library and makes them retrievable if you use the search bar.
Why aren't I recommending you delete them?!! Well, that brings me to-
Step 3. Add app limits with Screentime.
Want to spend no more than 10 minutes on Twitter a day? With screentime, you can set app use limits. When you hit said limit, you'll get a nag screen asking if you want one more minute, etc. The nag screen should be a deterrent, a reminder of your goal, which is "don't aimlessly scroll.”
(One of the great things about last year’s The Novelist is how it nails our involuntary use of social media. We’re clicking on apps without realizing it. That book actually got me to quit twitter for two weeks! It should be sold in health clinics as a social media deterrent!)
WHY NOT DELETE THE APPS, THOUGH?
I know the cold turkey method won’t work for me. And probably won’t work for you. We’re too entrenched in this shit to cut it off completely. I’ve tried many times. It only leads to frustration and reinstalls.
But, having to search for the app by name slows me down, makes me remember my digital detox mission. And if I go over my allotted time, the nag screen reminds me again to knock it off.
The whole idea here is that nothing we do on our phones is time sensitive. I don't need to google how to fix my sagging bedroom door while my toddler plays with legos. I should be present with the kid instead of googling dumb shit on my phone.
I am 100% certain that when I’m lying on my deathbed, I'll regret every second I was on my fucking phone.
4. Custom Icons. For the real minimalist jerk-off!
This is new to me. And an option this website details thoroughly. Long story short, you can create custom icons on your iPhone with the “shortcuts” app.
Why do this? I dunno. It’s really not necessary. But I find the aesthetics pleasing, AND for some reason, it prevents me from clicking on the icons more, maybe because they’re B/W and sort of fade into the background like wallpaper.
The only problem with custom icons is those red notification balls don't appear on them. To combat that, I took WhatsApp, Phone, Messages, etc., and placed them on the bottom doc without customizing them.
I would love for all the icons to be custom-made (like the sample photo above), but not at the cost of notifications. If I’m constantly checking my messages app for texts (because there’s no little notification), it defeats the whole purpose of this nightmare.
Aren’t you glad you’re not me?
Don’t answer that. Listen. How long will my iPhone stay dumb? Will I eventually go back to pages of apps, IN COLOR, with no app limits? And why do I need app limits? Why can’t I have some self-control?
After a week of this setup, I ultimately…
TURNED THE COLOR BACK ON:
It doesn’t look as beautiful as my “all grey every day” look above. But I was tired of turning on the color to see if I was connected to Bluetooth. Also, I’m sort of warming up to the idea that my least used apps are B/W. Whereas my “daily drivers” are still color.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.
Listen jerks. I’m currently averaging 10 minutes a day on Twitter. So maybe this isn’t as dumb as it looks.