I uninstalled Facebook app from phone. What happened next is truly amazing.
It was May 2014 when I bought my first smartphone after much persuasion and threatening by my wife. She was away at her mother’s place for some time and she wanted to do video calls with me.
Till that time, I had an old Blackberry handset which I used only for voice calls and sms. It hardly supported any apps and camera was pretty basic. I never opted for data plans for BBM or email service either. In short I was happy with life with lot of time for doing productive work.
However things changed quickly when I bought my Samsung Note 2. Firstly it made a huge hole in my pocket as I had to spend close to INR 27,000 (Thanks to Snapdeal, I got INR 2000 discount and 1% cashback on credit card payment, Hipee!)
After receiving my shiny new Samsung Note 2, life got a new turn. A whole new world of Android phone and thousands of apps opened for me. Phone was a powerhouse in comparison to my old humble Blackberry.
8 MP camera, 16 GB RAM, Quad core processor, in built wifi, microSD card etc. ensured that I would not need my personal computer again for entertainment and work.
I quickly installed lot of apps including Youtube, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook. Next was the turn of work related apps like email client, Gmail, Google Docs. Slowly my phone got packed with all the entertainment apps and couple of work related apps.
Earlier I used to visit Facebook, Youtube once every few days on my personal computer. But with smart phone, it was entirely different story. As the phone had built in wifi, so I was now always connected to internet at my office and home.
I remained online on Facebook, Gmail and other apps through out the day. In addition, I also installed Whatsapp as all my family and friends were on it. It was like I was socially cut off, so I installed it in order to oblige them and to also explore the world of quick chit chat.
Time started passing quickly. With smartphone and internet, it is quite easy to keep updated about latest news, facebook updates and work related emails. Not even a single minute passes when I am not buzzed with notifications about social updates, shopping recommendations or new email alert.
Initial few months passed with excitement and exploring new stuff on internet using my smart phone. I hardly used my personal computer any more as every thing was done on phone.
But soon I realized that I was becoming slave to my phone. I was less attentive, less focused and restless. From morning till night, there was some strange urge to look at my phone for any notification and updates.
I was not a producer of any content on Facebook or whatsapp etc. Neither I was sending any more emails. But still I was consumer of huge amount of content from various apps on the phone. Scrolling Facebook wall infinitely became the norm.
To make matter worse, my friends and family members added me to various groups on whatsapp (No offence to anybody. I love you all :) ). All these group members keep sending tons of jokes, messages and what not. Most of the content was completely useless and waste of time. I could neither leave groups (you know the reason well) nor I could resist the urge to see the messages.
While I was overloaded with FB, Whatsapp and email apps, I committed another crime. I installed LinkedIn app as well. I am more active on LinkedIn than Facebook. Here I also product a lot of content. So essentially a major time every day was lost in all these activities.
So one fine day I thought that enough is enough. I would not waste my precious time looking at my phone screen while life passes by. So the first thing I did was to uninstall Facebook for good.
For first few hours, it was like some terrible thing has happened in my life. It was like if I was left alone in the online world. I felt that my phone has deserted me.
But eventually things became better. With in week, I was more productive like before. Essentially followings things happened.
- More productive — As I had now more time to focus on my work at hand, so I could get things done fast. Earlier FB messages were a distraction. Phone used to buzz day and night. My attention span was smaller. Whether it is commute time, meetings or social gathering, I was always looking at my phone, scrolling through Facebook. All this is a thing of past.
- Peace of mind — Scrolling endlessly at Facebook and looking at the content shared, created lot of emotional strain. Pictures of people sharing their vacations, fun time, prized possessions and what not, at times created a feeling that I am good for nothing. As if I am a complete failure. In addition people share all kind of religious, political and hate content that generates lot of negative feelings. But now that I don’t consume any of this, I am more happy and peaceful.
- More quality time with family — Phone had become my companion. I was always on phone checking something. I was spending less time with family. I was physically present but mentally I was some where else. But now I was using new found time again to spend with family. Looking at my kid grow and having meaningful conversation with friends and family is truly amazing.
With in few months I reduced my usage of smart phone. Next it was the turn of Whatsapp. I found that I could mute the messages of any group for up to one year (and that too without notifications). So I quickly muted various non important groups and gained some extra brownie points.
In addition, I also uninstalled office email client, LinkedIn app and couple of games. I now check my office emails only through my laptop (If there is an urgency, I get updates on Whatsapp or call). Similarly LinkedIn is now accessed only 1–2 times in a day for a limited period of time.
In short I have regained all the lost time & productivity post acquisition of smartphone by simply using less of it. My smart phone is now no better than my old Blackberry companion and I am just loving it.
While the social media and tons of apps make sure that you are never left alone and entertainment is at tips. It has lot of downsides as well. We start forgetting that there is more to life beyond phone screen. Technology should help you live better, not take life away from you.
At times, it becomes a serious distraction to your personal or professional success.
Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.
- Adam Hochschild