Ending Digital Distraction in 2018?

Could this be the year we put an end to digital distractions in our lives? If my own life is any indication, I strongly doubt it.

I crossed the Rubicon this month and purchased my first (yes, first!) smartphone. I had been living quite happily with a flip phone for a dozen years or more, and a ‘hockey puck’ for another dozen before that. I carried Flippy only for emergencies and the occasional out-of-town trip so my family knew better than to call me. But we’re considering cutting the landline at long last and the unlimited calls/text option on my flip phone was more expensive than adding a smartphone to my wife’s plan.

One of the first things I did with my new smartphone was to delete most of the apps. I needed a phone, not another device, but then the trouble started. The phone was in my briefcase. As I went about my day I discovered that my digital decision tree had subtly changed. Work on the laptop, the tablet, or … the phone? Yikes! I hadn’t expected this.

Here are 4 recent news articles, all fairly breezy, about digital distractions of one sort or another. Take your pick.

  • 7 Months Ago, I Traded My Smartphone For a Brick Phone—Here’s What Happened – Willamette Week, 2 Jan 2018. “I’m shaken from my trance as the bus pulls up to my stop. It’s now 7:50 pm, and I haven’t looked up from my phone for more than an hour. I return to reality, sobered, and realize that everyone on the bus is also staring at tiny screens, completely oblivious to the world around them.”
  • A Gym Chain is Banning Cable News. It’s for Your Health – NY Times, 10 Jan 2018. “Some people praised the removal of what they described as a source of “negativity,” and thanked Life Time for making it easier to use the gym as an escape from the world. But many others expressed anger and accused the company of censorship.”
  • Seeing Beyond the Screen – Lion’s Roar, 2 Jan 2018. “I reach for my phone at nearly every pause in my day, from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. Our phones are extensions of ourselves, connectors to others, portals to the world, and addictive tools. If we are going to take our goal of living a mindful life seriously, we have to consider our very intimate, ubiquitous relationship with our devices.”
  • It’s Time for Apple to Build a Less Toxic iPhone – NY Times, 17 Jan 2018. “I got to thinking about Apple’s responsibility last week when two large investors wrote an open letter asking the company to do more about its products’ effects on children. I was initially inclined to dismiss the letter as a publicity stunt; if you’re worried about children and tech, why not go after Facebook?”