How to break up with your phone, Double Arrow Metabolism edition: Day Four

Day 4 of Technology Triage is "Take Stock and Take Action." Today's instructions from Catherine Price

1. Look at the results from my tracking app.

  • How many times per day did I pick up my phone?
  • How much time did I spend on it?
  • How does this compare to my guesses?

Like I said on day one, I thought I would spend about two hours a day on my phone and pick it up about 40 times a day. Considering the Hawthorne effect I thought I detected, I'm probably pretty close on my estimate for time, but I underestimated how many checks I would have. 

  • What, if anything, surprised you?

I'm surprised at how much my phone is integrated into my daily life. Watching the Olympics with my daughter, I wonder: how many medals have athletes from Kazakhstan won in the Winter games? And just like that, I have my answer:  

33. The answer is 33. 

33. The answer is 33. 

It's so automatic. My phone is an extension of my brain. Or *shudder* a replacement for part of my brain.

2. Notice what I've noticed

  • What did I notice about how and how often my phone interrupts me or does something to grab my attention?

The only alerts I get are from Moment, which Catherine asked me to download, and from RubiconMD, which I get paid to provide services through. So I don't get a lot of interruption per se, but my phone is a constant presence. It's like having someone in the room watching me. I always know it's there, even if it's not making noise or flashing lights. 

  • How did these interruptions make me feel?

I like the interruptions that give me the opportunity to help someone out or make money. The Moment interruptions are as annoying as any other interruption. Once this experiment is over, Moment is dead to me. I get no energy from them. I don't get the buzz that some people talk about. I don't feel loved or wanted. They're just noise, like a kid from the backseat asking for ice cream. 

  • What did I notice about how I feel emotionally or physically before, during, and after I used my phone, and during times when I was separated from it? Relaxed, tense, excited, anxious, or other?

Guilt. I feel guilt for using my phone instead of doing something else. I feel like someday I will die, and all I'll have to show for a huge chunk of my waking hours on earth is having had my face buried in a device explicitly designed to draw my attention. In the dopamine-cortisol spectrum, I'm pure cortisol. 

  • What did I notice about the moments when I felt you was in a state of "flow"?

Sigh. I hate hearing about flow. I've never felt flow a moment in my life. Enough with flow. 

  • How did I feel when I saw other people on their phones?

Phones seem to be the modern tool to express "presenteeism," that phenomenon when people from work try to impress you with how hard they're working. That 2 am email you got from a co-worker? Pure presenteeism: "Look at how hard I'm working. The 40-hour workweek can't even contain me!" I don't like it. Rest and downtime are a feature of efficiency, not a bug. And it works the other way, too. People who should be time-efficient at work instead can spend time on their phones and pretend it's work-related. So, needless to say, I don't feel great about seeing other people on their phones. The fact that I've personally committed every sin on that list does not help. 

  • Putting all this together, what patterns did you notice? What, if anything, surprised you?

I noticed that my phone probably keeps me from ruminating on deep problems. I jump right to a solution, a la Kazakhstani medals. I seemingly cannot have a bowel movement without contaminating my phone with coliform bacteria. 

3. Create my first speed bump. 

Catherine asks me to start thinking about WWW, for What For, Why Now, and What Else. She recommends putting WWW on my lock screen as a reminder. This is the third different lock screen she has recommended, and the second one I've declined. #whatdoyouwanttopayattentiontoforever