At the beginning of last year I made a commitment to cut down on my screen time in a big way, and it felt great. But then the pandemic hit, and my screen time rules went out the window. The past year has been crazy, and most people have been using their devices more than ever. But as the holiday season approaches, now is a good time to reconsider your relationship with your phone. We need to think deeply about how technology affects our lives, and cut back when it no longer serves us. We need to understand the true price we pay for free access to unlimited information. Check out this list of 10 good things to read/watch/listen to for some interesting food for thought that might just change your life.
- Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
According to Evening Standard, "Digital Minimalism is the Marie Kondo of mobile phones." Author and professor Cal Newport clearly and simply lays out a strategy for managing your screen time. Rather than rejecting technology outright, he suggests editing your usage to only that which is truly serving you. This book is a quick, easy read, and Newport's writing style is efficient and to-the-point.
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Another great book by author and professor Cal Newport, this is all about the vanishing art of deep focus. It talks about how our phone usage changes our brains, affects our attention span, and leaves us feeling frazzled and distracted. The author suggests we could achieve some of our greatest work if we allow ourselves to go deep and focus on a single task for extended periods of time. This book offers practical tips to eliminate distraction and get focused.
3. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
Oakland based artist, writer and educator Jenny Odell shares her thoughts on how to rebel against the manipulative forces fighting for our attention and embrace a more deliberate and artful life. I really enjoyed this book and felt inspired to slow down and step away from my phone.
4. How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price
My mom is retired and her phone time has been through the roof lately. My sister got us this book to encourage us to cut back on our screen time. I must admit I haven't read it yet, but it looks really intriguing. My mom read it, but she still seems to be using her phone a lot. We've been staying home most of the time these days, so what can you do?
5. The Social Dilemma on Netflix
This movie is a fascinating look into the world of social media as told by many of the insiders who built it. It's all about how social media is designed to hijack your attention and get you hooked. It's a good starting point because it's a fun watch and easy to digest. I recommend you read some of Jaron Lanier's books after watching this.
6. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
I don't know about you, but I've had a love/hate relationship with social media for years now. What originated over a decade ago as something fun and exciting has evolved over the years into something that feels increasingly addictive and icky. According to pioneering computer scientist and philosopher Jaron Lanier, social media is more than just a harmless distraction. It's bringing out the worst in us, tricking us with illusions of popularity and success, and twisting our relationship with truth.
7. Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
If you liked Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, you should also check out this earlier book by Jaron Lanier from 2012. He's an interesting character with a lot of insight about technology and the future of the internet. Who Owns the Future is "a visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks." Lanier proposes a humanistic vision for the future that rebuilds a middle class by rewarding ordinary people for what they do and share on the web. This book was a little dense and went over my head at times, but super interesting and definitely worth a read.
8. Put Down Your Phone - How to Minimize Your Screen Time and Make Your Devices Sacred Podcast by Yoga Girl
Rachel Brathen shared about her recent struggles with phone time on the latest episode of Yoga Girl: Conversations from the Heart. I could totally relate to a lot of what she shared, and felt inspired to cut down on my screen time and stay present in the moment. It felt especially timely given the pandemic and current state of the world. Give it a listen if you need a dose of encouragement to cut back on your screen time.
9. Rabbit Hole Podcast by Kevin Roose
This fascinating New York Times podcast is an eight-episode series that explores the question, "What is the internet doing to us?" From YouTube spirals to QAnon, influencers, and the future of the internet, this tackles some interesting topics and really gets you thinking.
10. Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book isn't about technology so much as the other ones, but it's all about how to kick your bad habits, stick to the good ones, and get 1% better every day. As someone who loves to-do lists and organization, this definitely helped me take my skills to the next level. It takes discipline to cut down your screen time and get focused. This book offers practical, actionable steps you can take right now to improve your life.