How often do you start your day by scrolling through a newsfeed on your smartphone? Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or actual news apps like CNN or The New York Times. They’re all one swipe away.
The scene of a parent sitting at a kitchen table, reading a newspaper on a Sunday morning. This was a staple for older TV sitcoms. But for previous generations, this was a childhood memory.
The printed newspaper was once a vehicle for social and political commentary. A source of knowledge of current events. By the mid-1800s, the United States saw no less than 25 mass-circulated newspapers. From the Poughkeepsie Journal to The Boston Post, there was no shortage of options.
The 1950s arrived with television sets filling American homes. Adding visual and audible spice to the news was a gamechanger. Yet, news and advertisements are building blocks for any newspaper. This evolution in media was a nasty right hook to newspaper revenue and readership.
Rolling into the 1990s and the internet revolution was the next nail the coffin. The ability to push live updates to readers was the beginning. People started shopping and reading with serious convenience. Craigslist alone cost the newspaper industry an estimated $5.4 billion from 2000 to 2007.
It would be a few years before Harry Potter opened a newspaper with video streaming. There wasn’t going to be a return to print.
Cruising newsfeeds to start and end our days has become criticized. The negative effects of that evil blue light. The anti-social behavior often attributed to the action. We all know the usual suspects.
Let’s talk about why we have replaced common items like newspapers with smartphones. There’s more to it than anti-social millennials and Facebook-addicted parents.
One Device to Rule Them All
Your smartphone is no more phone than it is a newspaper. Or a compass. While it is comfortable to refer to it as such, we need to come to grips with reality. This is not a single-use item. Not anymore.
Smartphones are mobile interconnected supercomputers. Oh now you believe we’re in the future, don’t you?
While it seems like many want to adopt this almighty device as a replacement, it doesn’t need to be that severe. Not for everyone. I will continue to use my camera on road trips. I keep an LED flashlight with the power of a thousand suns in my kitchen.
With that said, it’s time to accept that the new-normal is using these devices for all they can do. Setting aside device addiction, privacy issues, and social impact for a moment. We are in fact, better off with this evolving technology.
Updating Daily Rituals
My iPhone sits charging next to my bed every night. It doubles as my alarm clock. This also means that everything from Reddit to YouTube is also one foot and two swipes away.
If you find yourself with a similar setup, I’d wager that you also start your day checking email or news the same way. A social feed or two. And the daily weather forecast. This is most mornings for me and I’m completely comfortable with it.
Many of our morning information-seeking rituals are still in place. Only now they’re simplified into one single action. Does that make our lives better or worse? I would argue the former.
I’ve come to terms with my own fascination with productivity. I’m not always seeking a continual solution to regain my time. But, I realize that changing certain habits might still do that.
Buying, opening, and paging through a newspaper can be cumbersome. Replacing that with a news app is beyond efficient. Not only can I be sure I’m not reading outdated material, but I can also interact with and share the same article.
Applied to a variety of small habits, I have a slew of conveniences that make life a little better for me. How many replacements could you find in your daily life?
Enough Is Enough
We’ve replaced a few random habits at home. Returned about 20 minutes of our day and $14 in products. Great. Now what?
Stop. Put the device down.
Remember that elephant we acknowledged and then quickly ignored again? Let’s go say hi once more.
It’s impossible to ignore the recipe for disaster that smartphones offer. While we are now more connected to each other than ever, there were side effects. Loneliness and a growing sense of isolation, to name a couple. Technology with a sense of irony, it would seem.
We need to remember why we enjoy these conveniences. I love being able to connect with family, read the news that matters to me, and laugh at friends’ dog photos. All before I get out of bed. This enhances my morning most days.
But then I stop. I talk with people who matter most in person. I’m present while eating breakfast with my girlfriend. I enjoy the view of the bay while walking the dog.
Be mesmerized by the innovations at our fingertips. Enjoy life in person and not through a screen. You can do both. We can allow technology to make us better without accepting the side effects. It’s going to require a little bit of restraint a whole lot of fresh air. Are you up for the challenge?