Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Interrupting our interruptions

Despite loving the career I have chosen, and having a burning desire to learn as much as I can about it – deep down I really hate technology.

I make efforts to cull technology from my life and restrict its presence wherever possible. I want to choose when to interact with technology yet often find myself enraged when I discover I’ve once again developed a dependence on scrolling.

It’s a feeling shared by many within this generation. With the recent release of The Social Dilemma, which talks about Humane – a company focused on human-first tech interactions (a company I got in contact with before the credits even rolled) – my interest in how I interact with tech has been reignited.

Since secondary school, I have routinely de-and-reactivated my Facebook account at pivotal moments, aware that my studies/exams would otherwise be aversely impacted. But with university now in the rear view mirror, I have come to realise there will be no more “crunch times”, when I can cram to do better. To stay ahead of the curve I need to continually learn and evolve.

The latest shift I’ve taken, met by many bemused, insulted and one-time angry faces, is disabling almost all of my notifications.

I feel my GP should be able to contact me whenever it needs to.

The two that people find most controversial are WhatsApp and Messenger, two titans ubiquitous to a smart phone. But a short dig into my Screen Time weekly reports – by far and away Apple’s must underrated feature imho – these two were the dominating gold and silver medalists of ‘first to be opened on wake’, and ‘total screen time’.

Even badges I am half-tempted to revoke.

Cutting these out has not caused any of the grief my friends and family were so fervently keen to warn me about.

For months prior, my solution had been to keep my phone on do-not-disturb, and to remember to turn that off when I was out the house. You could almost guarantee that I wouldn’t pick up the phone if you wanted to ask me to grab some milk.

Clearly, a better solution was required.

Nowadays, all applications on my phone are stripped of their “right” to make a noise with the exception of phone calls (an interruption I currently deem acceptable, as so few opt for such an exchange these days).

If you need my attention immediately, boy o’ boy does Sir Alexander Graham Bell have the solution for you.

When I want to catch up with my friends I’m aware from the app’s badge that there’s something afoot. I approach the app in my own time, when I want to.

Almost nothing has the right to display on my Lock Screen to save me being drawn into my phone. When I am already on my phone, a handful of apps then have the opportunity to “enlighten” me only from within the swipe-down notification centre.

And for the most part, it’s nearly exactly what I want.

But settling for nearly on something so fundamental to a phone, and yet nearly unchanged since its inception, seems so absurd in an era of “5nm processors”.

Hush

I began this piece with the intention of discussing my dissertation from 2019 – Hush: Exploring the Effects of the Dynamic Adjustment of Notification Modality upon Perceived Emotions Toward Notifications. Hush was an Android app that, were it feature complete, I hoped might be a step toward an answer to this problem.

However, I found myself eager to let flow an inner monologue on what I personally consider my greatest hatred of technology.

I leave this as a preamble for a piece I will write in the coming weeks, condensing the research and findings in Hush, to add my voice on this matter into the growing pool of disaffected screen junkies. In sheer hope it may reach someone with power, may this act as a suggestion for what good might be done for us all.

dubious dev, fintech friend, sloppy skier | he/him