The world is dying; come see it
October 17, 2018 11:33 AM   Subscribe

"The world is on fire but the new Google Pixel 3 — a Good Phone, which I do recommend you buy if you like Android and can afford it, although its updates are mostly incremental — in my pocket is cool to the touch. ... My neck hurts. I am never not looking down. When I am not looking at my phone, I become slightly anxious. And then, when I do actually look at it, I become even more so. It reminds me of how I once felt about cigarettes. I don’t recall exactly when my phone became such a festival of stress and psychological trauma, but here we are." Matt Honan reviews the Google Pixel 3 for Buzzfeed News through a haze of existential angst about the smartphone revolution. (via Daring Fireball.)
posted by RedOrGreen (52 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I was just taking a break from work to walk around a bit outside, and encountered a group of 3 similarly dressed people walking together and staring at their cellphones in identical poses. I found it really amusing until I realized I was also holding my phone and only not staring at it because I was getting onto the escalator.
posted by Foosnark at 11:35 AM on October 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

I can't possibly get rid of my phone. I badly want to get rid of my phone.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I only got my first smartphone 2 years ago, and I miss not having one. Google Maps is nice, though.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:41 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Link to Daring Fireball.
posted by terrapin at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The stress isn't caused by the phone, it's caused by what you're consuming on the phone, i.e. social media.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:46 AM on October 17, 2018 [24 favorites]

Like 👍
posted by lalochezia at 11:48 AM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by lalochezia at 11:49 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

(Ahhh crap my "via Daring Fireball" link was meant to point to the story there - sorry. Maybe the mods can fix it?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2018

Mod note: Fixed!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Deleting FB from my phone reduced a lot of my stress and improved my battery life. Then I discovered Twitter 😑
posted by arcticseal at 11:59 AM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

A couple of weeks ago, when the news started to get really bad, I put a big sticker on the back of my phone that just says “Nothing has changed.” When I get a craving I’ll take out my phone, flip it over, and gently touch the sticker with my thumb, a little like I’m scrolling to refresh it.

It actually helps a lot.
posted by emmalemma at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2018 [48 favorites]

arcticseal: "Deleting FB from my phone reduced a lot of my stress and improved my battery life. Then I discovered Twitter 😑"

I deleted both but then relapsed on Twitter.

I do still have a FB account but only log into it using an incognito Chrome tab which may or may not be safer than the app but it at least slows me down enough that I usually don't bother with it.
posted by octothorpe at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Samsung didn't let me uninstall Facebook, but it did let me block it from running (go figure). I also don't log into FB on my work PC.

Just using Facebook on my home desktop does feel a bit healthier. But that still leaves Instagram and a whole bunch of forums and so on, though. I think if I were ever to take up meditation, at least during the workday, I'd have to block my web browser.
posted by Foosnark at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2018

I have a new-ish iphone, but no social media accounts. I don't look at my phone unless I get a text or need to look at a map or something. Mostly it plays music when I'm in my car.

Your shiny new smartphone isn't the problem.
posted by ryanrs at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2018 [12 favorites]

Foosnark: staring at their cellphones in identical poses

See: Paweł Kuczyński's "Control" (see also: more of his work, many in similar themes, and his website)

Cloud-watching helps me bend my neck the other way.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I deleted FB, too, and I’m rarely on twitter or anything else. But I refresh metafilter and IWSMT each about 60 times a day, and BoingBoing maybe 10, so... I really can’t say it changed much. I just spend the time I used to spend on FB elsewhere. I think I’m going to have to start keeping my phone in airplane mode and maybe that will break my bad habits. Ugh.
posted by greermahoney at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2018

I love my phone, a BlackBerry KeyOne because I could never get the hang of typing on touchscreens, but I don't use Facebook, Twitter, or the other apps mentioned in the article, and the last time I posted on Instagram was in 2016. My phone enables me to live my childhood dream of spending every free minute reading books. Also, I've never had a job that involves sitting in front of a computer, so my phone allows me to spend lunches and commutes here instead of staring out the window.

I was just thinking about how reading a book like Bob Stanley's Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! on my phone is great because it is easy to switch between reading the book and listening to the music he's discussing. It's interesting, but the prose is not spectacular, so I doubt I'd finish it if I weren't on my phone.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best thing I did with my phone in the past year or so was install the kindle app, and retrain myself to open that instead of twitter when I'm bored at work, or waiting in line, or any of the other times that I would just be refreshing twitter. Even if I'm still staring at my phone, at least I'm reading something long form and less stressful most of the time, and it's not so different from my reading habits back before I had a smart phone; I always carried a book in my purse, and was *that person* who would pull a book out to read whenever I could get away with it.

I am getting the pixel 3? But mostly because it'll have a bigger, slightly nicer screen to read things on and my current phone is starting slow down in general and freeze up when I open the camera app. Hurray?
posted by bridgebury at 12:52 PM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

I was just taking a break from work to walk around a bit outside, and encountered a group of 3 similarly dressed people walking together and staring at their cellphones in identical poses.

It's quite something these days to stand up if you're in the back of a commuter bus or train, and see a chain of glowing phone screens all the way to the front, except the two people working in excel on a laptop.
posted by condour75 at 12:52 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

I find that Mastodon has satisfied my Twitter/FB newsfeed addiction without the harmful side-effects of anxiety, rapid heartrate, sweating, irritability, and growing hatred of certain segments of my extended family and community.

I personally use the SDF Mastodon instance, but there are many others, and the idea is to choose one that is a good fit for you, because each instance has the option of peering with—or not peering with—other instances as the administrators see fit. You can also suppress posts containing certain hashtags if you'd like.

There's actually very little (besides decentralization) in Mastodon that Twitter couldn't have implemented; they just chose not to. You'd get many of the UX benefits if Twitter had shared blocklists, but Twitter has traditionally been extremely hostile to that idea. "Why" will be left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

From now on I want all tech reviews to be written thus.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:26 PM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

The stress isn't caused by the phone, it's caused by what you're consuming on the phone, i.e. social media.

I mean it also comes from the fact that you're using it to consume stories about how the world is dying, without feeling particularly empowered to do anything about this.
posted by atoxyl at 1:35 PM on October 17, 2018 [11 favorites]

The stress isn't caused by the phone, it's caused by what you're consuming on the phone, i.e. social media.

i like alcohol. you know what I like better? SYRINGES! Did you know that SYRINGES can be used to consume MORE ALCOHOL? EVERYONE'S DOING IT!


Now, let's lets give SYRINGES to EVERYONE! Oh, you don't have a syringe? Well, you can't function in the modern world! Did I tell you that people use alcohol a lot. And it's Cool?..... Some even use alcohol with their syringe......
posted by lalochezia at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Please, for his sake, nobody show this guy the megathread.
posted by M-x shell at 1:54 PM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

From now on I want all tech reviews to be written thus.

Car reviews would greatly benefit from meditations on urban planning, the geopolitical ramifications of oil dependence, and the environmental consequences of climate change.
posted by peeedro at 1:54 PM on October 17, 2018 [13 favorites]

Cloud-watching helps me bend my neck the other way.

In Internet Dystopia, Cloud watches You.
posted by otherchaz at 1:54 PM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

FWIW, the only social media I use on my phones is email, and the occasional text message from my family. If smartphones are syringes that administer social media, it's by no means the only purpose. I've said as much before on MeFi.

But yes, there's a certain irony in Apple employees walking into walls in the glass theater that is Apple Park, given it's large contribution to the art of not paying attention to your surroundings. But hey, it's not like journalists didn't contribute to this either.
posted by pwnguin at 2:05 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I deleted myself from FB about 11 months ago. It was a very good decision.

I rarely post to Instagram anymore, but do enjoy looking at art on it. It's pretty much all I do with it (I do not really follow people I know on there, just art accounts).

I really enjoy taking pictures, especially when I travel, but I find posting them to Insta isn't really satisfying for me--at least, no more so than admiring the shots myself. I don't much really care how many likes/follows I have (in fact, I would probably use Insta more if there were a way to disable that "feature").

I'm just about done building a new website for myself which will display my photos and writing that will make it easy to show them to my mother and friends at a resolution / size more pleasing than Insta allows and am curious if this will be more satisfactory or just fall by the wayside like so many other personal projects I tire of.

I'm currently running a retail business without the use of FB, Twitter, or, mostly, Insta (there's an account active but rarely posted to). Almost everyone who buys from me comments on the lack of social media, but they do so in a very positive way, usually saying something about how unusual or brave doing so is. Or what a "relief" it is.

As for my phone itself, I can't really imagine maintaining my lifestyle without it. I especially like it when I travel -- for maps and finding interesting things to see/do. I carry it with me always, along with an amazing bluetooth keyboard called a Text Blade which allows me to write wherever I may be. A latptop without the bulk, pretty much.

I mostly use it for audiobooks and music, at least when active. When stationary, I'll read the NYTimes on it or use the kindle app. Those uses alone make the thing indispensable. Add in maps and translate and it's a no brainer. (I rarely play games, though usually have one puzzle on there at any given time.)

I've also set up my phone in such a way that I am well aware of what any notification I get means without having to look at the phone (these friends make this ding and those friends make that ding and mom rings this way and NYT alerts are quiet with this vibration pattern, etc.). This was a pain in the ass to set up but i check my phone a hell of a lot less. The bulk of people who text me or email me do not even cause the phone to make a noise or buzz at all -- I just check those ones at the end of the day.

When I leave my house, I always have a paperback book, a notebook and pen, my Text Blade, my durr, and my phone. It all fits into a small purse, preloaded with keys and money, but pretty much has everything I need to be occupied / entertained / busy, regardless of where I am.

Does the phone cause me stress? Not in the slightest.
posted by dobbs at 2:23 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

The stress isn't caused by the phone, it's caused by what you're consuming on the phone, i.e. social media.

No, it is the phone as much as the content, because it isn't good for you to be staring into a tiny screen for dopamine hits all day. I think that's widely understood, and it's also widely understood that you can use your laptop sort of like a phone but the size limits the damage.

On a personal level, I believe it's bad because it detaches you from the natural world and fills all the time that you would otherwise have used to notice things and reflect. Being outside while you walk between buildings or take your kid to the park isn't being outside much at all, but it's better than being nominally outside while you stare into the screen. And it's good for you to have twenty minutes here and there where you just have to think about stuff. It's good to be able to amuse yourself by thinking, planning and observing rather than be totally dependent on the media, if you ask me.

I also believe that all this "never need to remember anything again" stuff isn't that good. Not because any individual skill is so totally precious, but because cumulatively, when we no longer have to remember grocery lists, how to get across town, the process by which you make an omelet, the names of local bird species, etc etc, we're diminishing our actual capacities in the name of being flesh cogs in a better machine.

Lately I feel like that's what most of us are becoming - just flesh interfaces between machines. The only reason we're needed at all is to introduce unpredictable things or mistakes for the machines to fix, or literally to digest food and shit it out again - otherwise the machines could just ship products to our houses, place new orders, exchange money, drone bomb each other, etc. It isn't AI, it's just that humans exist mostly to connect machines.

I understand full well that many of these tools are hugely useful to disabled people. But I don't think the analogy is "street design that helps wheelchair users is actually good for everyone", which is demonstrably true; I think it's much more like "using a wheelchair frees this person to move around town and participate in society, so everyone should use one" - a misapplied analogy.

Phones, as they're currently configured, enable us to do a lot of stuff in the short term and the immediate moment that is very convenient and sometimes genuinely helpful. But they're really destructive in the larger sense and the long term, and yet we can't stop with them. Not unlike the whole carbon economy.

(FTR, I have the dumbest smartphone. It has no data, so I can only use the internet when there's wireless. At this point it's old and doesn't connect well. I have no apps. It makes problems for me because the expectation is so strong in all social situations that you'll use apps and be able to do app-related stuff. I'll probably have to slightly upgrade when this one dies. But I am afraid that I'll end up on my fucking phone all the time, like everyone else I know.)
posted by Frowner at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2018 [17 favorites]

Need fully integrated google implant NOW!
posted by sammyo at 2:41 PM on October 17, 2018

The stress isn't caused by the phone, it's caused by what you're consuming on the phone, i.e. social media.

It's also caused by the societal change that a phone connects individuals, instead of places. Your boss has a way to get hold of you on Saturday, rather than your empty house. The need to be continuously connected makes the phone a millstone.
posted by zabuni at 2:50 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

I only got my first smartphone 2 years ago, and I miss not having one. Google Maps is nice, though.

I got my first smartphone in 2014. I told my friends for the longest time that I would be terrible with one, because of my addictive personality. No one believed me. And now they yell at me for being on phone too much. And I just give them the "I told you so" look, and go back to scrolling Instagram.

My phone doesn't stress me out at all. Social media doesn't stress me out in the same way it does others. If anything, it reduces my FOMO, because I use Instagram to keep up with my friends' lives. (I've stepped back from facebook mostly because it's full of stuff I either already see on Instagram, or stuff I don't care about, and I just don't like the platform in general for a variety of reasons.) I have depression and the phone lets me play games to distract myself from that, or reminds me that my favorite shows just have new episodes which also distracts me from that. All the terrible news about the world? I choose to consume it to stay informed, but I get mad and blasts about it on Twitter and then I feel better. Then I come here to absorb more insights. My phone helps me manage all this while I'm out and about, while I can also use Google Maps, which is nice.
posted by numaner at 3:08 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Having a cheap Samsung means I literally can't download a bunch of crap apps, or even some that may be of some use. I appear to get along without them. I'll never pay more than $100 for a phone again. The cheap one has actually lasted longer than the $500+ ones did. It's got a nice enough camera. I bought it to use as a... wait for it.... A phone! Works just fine for that.

Sometimes I don't answer my phone. Sometimes I don't answer texts for a day. Sometimes I leave the phone in the house when I'm outside, or shut up in another room when I'm inside.

There are people who find this most upsetting.

They can either get used to it, leave a message, or leave me alone.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:25 PM on October 17, 2018

Hey - I wrote this story. Appreciate people reading it and discussing. Whether or not it's due to social media, it does seem to me that the world at large increasingly experiences life with one eye on a smartphone - and that there have been lots of unintended consequences from that. Which is why (as I said in my tweet about this story) it does seem like it's time to review not just phones themselves, but their place in society. Anyway, thanks again, all.
posted by emptyage at 3:32 PM on October 17, 2018 [39 favorites]

I can't believe I just read a review of a phone.

On the other hand, I've now read the only phone review I'll ever need to!
posted by SystematicAbuse at 3:59 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

> Hey - I wrote this story.

OMG! Ok, Metafilter, what do I win?

> Can we update the fpp to include "MeFi's own Empty Mat Honan"?

Yeah, we totally should!
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:09 PM on October 17, 2018

I have found that getting rid of social media apps and changing my notification settings (phone calls have an audible ring, SMS text messages are vibrate and everything else is an LED notification only) have really improved my phone usage. I should get a proper alarm clock so that I can keep my phone out of the bedroom, or at least far enough away that I'm not on it right before going to sleep and right after waking up.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:11 PM on October 17, 2018

My phone doesn't stress me out at all.

Yeah, I held out on getting a phone in part because of the cost, and in part because I was afraid I'd never let go of it. Turned out to be true. It DOES stress me out, enormously. I think my quality of life has significantly declined since I got it. It's been a bad coping mechanism for major depression and anxiety, and all it does is exacerbate both.

I dream about throwing it in the ocean (duly noted that this would in fact be bad for the ocean).

My current fantasy is that I'll film myself disassembling it piece by piece (even desoldering each component one by one) while talking about the impact it had on my life, the workers who made it, and the cultural shifts that convinced me to buy one. It would be video art, and naturally it would go viral. Vice would call it "profound," and Fast Company would call it "pointless." It would make people Think, and probably launch a decent career for me.

I lack the self-confidence to do something like that, so instead I will continue using it and feeling bad for myself.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:22 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

I don't really use social media other than using my computer to check in once or twice a year; deleting my accounts is on my to do list.

On my phone, I received enough notifications from a few other types of apps until I finally found them distracting enough to warrant turning off all notifications. I even turned off visual notifications that appear at the top of my phone screen, except those for missed calls. It's been liberating and my life is much more peaceful, reminiscent of my flip phone years. People who know me well enough will call if they need me in a timely manner and I get to hear their voice. I check email twice a day, and check my other communication apps once a day. Everything else is checked on a need to know basis. It's been working well since I started a few months ago.
posted by mayurasana at 5:58 PM on October 17, 2018

In addition to TFA, which is great, it introduced me to this iPhone review by John Paczkowski, which is also great. (Buzzfeed news, killing it. Who would have guessed?)

I don't want to position them as a sort of point-counterpoint, because I think that does a disservice to both, but they complement each other in an intriguing way. Paczkowski writes about showing the new iPhone Xs* to his daughter, who is unimpressed, because:
[M]y daughter was born into a world where “It just works” is (largely) a truism and not a miracle tonic to a Sisyphean search for a possibly nonexistent printer driver or service pack. She’s never seen the Fisher-Price phone horror of a pre-iPhone smartphone UI. Apple hasn’t made anything transformatively better for her. The world has always been thus.
That is an amazing statement.

I increasingly think that the idea that phones are "doing" something to the world is incorrect; the correct verb tense is that they did something to the world. The use of the present tense is, I am increasingly convinced, just us old farts, trying to catch up to things that have already happened, but happened inside our decision loop, so fast that we're still reacting. We're like Wile E. Coyote, still frantically pumping his feet after he's gone over the edge of the cliff (possibly because the cliff just moved eight feet to the left, we'll never be sure). Paczkowski's daughter's world has always been thus; it's just the way things are.

This is, I'm sure, true for every generation in various ways; I've read various pieces from the early 20th century about the (wired) telephone clearly causing the decline of civilization, discourse, romance, writing, reading, etc., but for those of us born after it became commonplace, well, what's the big deal? And it turns out, we—those of us who came later—were sorta right. Civilization didn't fall apart, it may have done just the opposite:**
New technology reduces the burdens of distance but, in doing so, it increases the number of weak ties we can maintain, the number of people we can stay connected to, and that actually leads to even more face to face interactions that were possible before, and those overwhelm the distance effects. This kind of technology, that bridges distance in some ways, also brings us closer.
Mobile phones offer the same bargain. They allow us, if we want to use them that way, to maintain ties to other people. They also allow us to spend more of our waking lives in a state of perpetual rage at the morass of fetid stupidity that is, well, those people we don't want to maintain ties with. The question is, how do we get one without quite so much of the other.

I suspect that the answers will be obvious, in retrospect. Young people, who aren't as impressed by the technology itself, who view it as just another tool to do whatever the hell they want to do—gossip, tell jokes, get laid, share triumphs and setbacks, you know, the usual human-condition-since-time-immemorial stuff—have probably already got it figured out.

* Can we take a moment to just consider that, whatever else is going on in the world, the most valuable company on the planet just launched a product called the "Xs", and—with a totally straight face and no hint of irony—is selling it for almost nine hundred US dollars. If you had dropped that into a gritty cyberpunk novel twenty years ago, I'd have told you it was a little bit on the nose, isn't it? I mean come on.

** Some of the charts in this article are really great, and it's unfortunate they're not in better resolution. But take a look at the adoption curves of various technologies, and get your slappin' hand ready the next time some breathless Silicon Valley brodude starts huffing about how mobile phones are the greatest. tech. ever. Yes, the uptake rate of mobile phones was impressive. But it was about the same, in the industrialized world, as the color TV, FM radio, or VCR, and was more of a "slow burn" at the outset than the latter. Our place in history is not as unique as we like to think it is.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:34 PM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

I wonder how many of those people mefi is complaining about, using cell phones while walking or on the bus, are women who don't want to look up and have to meet the gaze of a guy who's going to tell them to smile. Or that their hair is too short.

I mean lets face it, this thread is very priviledged, in a very older white male sort of way. Nobody here is considering that THEY might be the person the people with their noses in phones are avoiding.

I believe it's bad because it detaches you from the natural world and fills all the time that you would otherwise have used to notice things and reflect.

Yep. Keeps you from noticing the guy who's been staring at your tits for the last half hour, and prevents you from reflecting that if you catch his eye, he'll follow you off the bus demanding you talk to him, because hes a nice guy.

Yknow what else? There's women who wear headphones all the time as well. Wanna talk about what they're missing?
posted by happyroach at 12:25 AM on October 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

Is this something I would have to have a smartphone to understand?
posted by Rock Steady at 4:43 AM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

i like the review, but as always, i am genuinely befuddled by all the angst, but maybe i've been vaccinated against FOMO early on. you can always not use things, it doesn't have to be a performance.
posted by cendawanita at 5:30 AM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I mean lets face it, this thread is very priviledged, in a very older white male sort of way. Nobody here is considering that THEY might be the person the people with their noses in phones are avoiding.

You know what? I am a visibly queer, fat, gender-non-conforming person who gets threatened with violence because of those things. My life is actually much scarier now than it was when I was read as cis-straight female, because I no longer assume that women are at least neutral toward me. Now pretty much every interaction with non-queer strangers is fraught, and I know that I disgust or anger a lot of people just for being who I am. Every time I encounter a stranger, I have to remember that I have to work extra hard to overcome their disgust, anger and bigotry.

Something to bear in mind: straight women can also perpetrate bigotry, and if you're queer or trans, interactions with straight women can also be extremely fraught. Straight-women/cis-women majority spaces are not places of comfort or refuge for me, and in fact have been places where I've had really unpleasant encounters.

I still don't like having my nose in a phone all day, and I notice that I feel worse both physically and mentally when I spend all my time constantly dealing with the internet. I am far, far happier when I have time to look at the natural world and reflect.

Please do not assume that everyone who disagrees with you does so from a standpoint of privilege and moves through the world in ease and comfort.
posted by Frowner at 5:55 AM on October 18, 2018 [12 favorites]

One other thing: I feel like there's a line of reasoning that comes up again and again on metafilter that goes something like this:

"For Reasons, Thing has a lot of drawbacks".
"Marginalized people use Thing because it is the least-bad alternative, therefore Thing is actually good or neutral, and talking about its drawbacks is insulting".

Obviously this line of reasoning can be performed with maximum stupidity and vanity, like:

"For Reasons, Thing has a lot of drawbacks and people who use Thing, unlike me, are stupid and bad"

But I feel like the least-bad alternative can still be bad - I mean, "you can't just look at the sunset instead of your phone because some asshole will harass you if he catches your eye" isn't very good either.

And I think it's easy to discount habit formation. Like, I avoid a lot of stuff because I don't feel safe or comfortable. This has had a bad knock-on effect because I'm out of the habit of doing things and my sense of danger is always at 11, so I end up being very stressed out by or avoiding situations that are not bad or dangerous. The actual habits I have to keep myself safe or not super-stressed end up having additional negative effects, and I think that constant phone-use to avoid harassment has similar bad effects, even though it's the least-bad alternative.

On another note, I have to say that "the people they are avoiding is YOU" really pushed my buttons, happyroach, because I get frozen out at straight-people-centric events, and it is often very obvious that people think that it's going to be weird or creepy or difficult to engage with me when in group settings. It is something that frustrates me in my union, for pete's sake. They don't do it to be mean, and I don't think that they hate me exactly, but they obviously think I'm weird and treat me like I don't really belong.
posted by Frowner at 8:39 AM on October 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

I was an early smart phone/PDA adopter (Palm Pilot --> Palm --> Treo, I might have had the Dell PDA at some point in there.) They were enormously useful for work because I need quick access to information and communication and I am usually on the move and rarely at a desk. Then I found out they were enormously useful for not talking to people I didn't want to talk to. I remember an involuntary vacation with the inlaws around 2000 and doing nothing all week but reading Metafilter threads at an agonizingly slow rate on my bright red shiny new Treo.

I've kinda worked through the angst of "I know I really shouldn't be staring at this thing for so long, but I can't stop" and am finally arriving at a place where I really don't have the desire to waste hours on the thing anymore. I've turned off all notifications from every app which helps. I never want to get on Facebook anymore, its all just the same people with the same rants that I just don't wish to rehash anymore. The Apple news feed and Google news just suck at satisfying my craving for information because they just curate stories designed to appeal to me and therefore everything is the same. I've never been much of a gamer on a smart phone, as if I really had time for it. I love this review because it acknowledges the fact that smart phones have become just about as good as they need to be. I guess smaller options would be nice. Something that works better than Siri/as well as Alexa? Maybe I'm wrong and someone will come up with some new feature that we all will just *have* to have but I kind of doubt it. Maybe I'm just old and my ability to integrate some new technology into my life is low.

That having been said, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so I am intrigued by hardware and software that tries to make the things less distracting. There are things that are enormously useful that I do want access to without getting sucked into the latest Buzzfeed listicle. I still need access on the go to work related-references, equations, and calculators. Obviously instant messaging and email. The "telephone" itself I could take or leave. I never answer the damn thing and maybe once a week I need to make an actual call and even then I could probably do without. It's nice to be able to get a good picture of the kids doing something cute when I wasn't expecting it. I like browsing Instagram, which feels completely wholesome and non-icky, if I have a few minutes in a waiting room. I want to be able to listen to music at the gym or walking to work. Navigation apps. All of these things are great to have when you need it, but aren't likely to make me ignore my kids or bump into glass walls.

I can't do the grey-scale thing. Making something ugly doesn't seem to make me want to use it less, it just makes using it more unpleasant. Like I said turning off notifications helps. I also like the Apple sleep function which now automatically turns off messages and notifications when my phone thinks I am sleeping. So far I haven't missed a call from the president in the middle of the night.

I am really intrigued by the about-to-be-released Palm "companion" phone particularly the tiny size and the fact that it does not connect wirelessly to anything unless the screen is turned on. But it's annoying that it will only be available through Verizon, and must be connected to the use of an additional conventional phone (why?). But I could really see myself using something like this and I really hope it spawns more smart phone options with minimalist designs that preserve all the must-haves of a smart phone while ditching the angst.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:10 AM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

and now I realize my involuntary Treo-cation with the inlaws must have been 2005 or so. the smart phone era has dissolved my conception of dates or personal history.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:42 AM on October 18, 2018

just launched a product called the "Xs",

Apple marketing insists it's pronounced 'Ten Ess'.

So really it's:

* Tenner
* Tennis
* Tennis Match
posted by pwnguin at 1:24 PM on October 19, 2018

Tens (tenz).
posted by rhizome at 1:38 PM on October 19, 2018

Please do not assume that everyone who disagrees with you does so from a standpoint of privilege and moves through the world in ease and comfort.

Yeah, I'd noped out when I read that, but thanks for such a good response, Frowner. What's the point of discussing this if other people won't even engage with you in good faith? It's a chronic problem around these parts.

I'm like Slarty, I keep trying the grayscale thing but it doesn't actually reduce my phone time, it just makes it worse. I think the only way I'll get over this is if I get rid of my smartphone. That's why I think it's more than just a social media problem -- the internet in general is designed to be addictive, and phones make it that much more convenient. I'm on my laptop all day, too, so it's not like ditching the phone will solve my life problems, but at least I'll be able to take a walk without having to see if anyone responded to my dumb comments on Metafilter.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2018

I don't think the Internet is designed to be addictive, I think the business industries want it to be addictive because then all the old white guys with tobacco-era marketing degrees can get paid, so they tend to fund companies who are working in that direction. That is, it's addictive because addiction is a known profit center with massive amounts of institutional knowledge and strategic concepts.
posted by rhizome at 2:09 PM on October 19, 2018

Well, sure, I didn't mean that the internet itself was explicitly designed to be addictive. I just meant that today's internet is, by design, very hard to look away from, even if you're not on social media.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:13 PM on October 19, 2018

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