Kicking the Smartphone Addiction
Mar 11, 2019

Some recent interviews on my Techtonic radio show featured people who have kicked their smartphone habit.

1. Tim Harford, author known for his "Undercover Economist" column in the FT and his "50 Things" BBC podcast, spoke to me about using behavioral economics to kick his smartphone addiction. Listen to the interview and follow along on the show notes page.

Tim makes the excellent point that we shouldn't just think about giving up addictive things like Facebook and Instagram. Instead, we should focus on what we're replacing them with. Here's how Tim put it during our interview:

If you want to spend less time on Facebook, for example, make a conscious effort to say, Facebook is costing me something in terms of my attention, my time - and so I want to replace it with something positive. I want to spend more time with my friends, or reading a book, or whatever. So it's not just about self-denial. It's about the good stuff you're going to do instead.

2. Catherine Price, author of "How to Break Up With Your Phone," spoke with me twice: once when her book first came out a year ago, and more recently a followup phone call (listen here) on the heels of an NYT piece by Kevin Roose.

Here's what Catherine said in our recent phone call:
When you find yourself on your phone, even if you've already picked it up, ask yourself: What for? Why now? What else? WWW. What did you pick it up for? Is there a practical purpose, or is it just out of habit? Why did you do it now? Is it because you're bored or anxious, or is it because everyone around you has their phone out? And lastly, what else could you do right now, either to achieve the same goal or something else entirely - for example, just staring out the window.

3. Finally, my friend Brian spoke about the spiritual dimension of giving up the iPhone - listen here.

Here's what Brian said in our interview:
We look at this technology - is this helping me grow as a person? Or is this something that is numbing me? That's something I hear in spiritual direction. There are people who come in and talk about how technology becomes an escape from dealing with real issues that need attention. It's like the soma in Brave New World, it's the drug that numbs everybody.

P.S. Speaking of Kevin Roose, he gave an on-stage talk at my Gel 2010 conference about his book "The Unlikely Disciple": watch Kevin's Gel talk here.