If you are happy with your app usage, don’t read this. This is for people who find themselves addicted and unsatisfied.
The addiction to apps is most problematic in the USA. I have lived in Hong Kong and it is nowhere near the level we are at. I also suspect this issue is more problematic in city centers like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Us city dwellers tend to over-optimize everything and adopt useless technology like no other.
I have never encountered so many people that are on no less than five different dating apps and wonder why they aren’t satisfied with their dating life. I have never seen so many people spend more time researching the food they want than the time it takes to actually eat the meal. I have never seen to many people ignoring their friends who took time out of their day to hang out to broadcast their thoughts to strangers. I have never seen to many people delay enjoying a moment because they wanted to get the perfect photo. Most importantly, I have never seen so many people have so many apps to entertain themselves while saying how bored they are.
In 2011, I had taken off a year from school to live in a farming village at the base of yellow mountain. Huangshan City is located in the middle of nowhere in Anhui in Mainland China. I had not had a conversation with anyone who spoke English to any real degree for several months by that point. Michael, my friend from college, had been staying in Hong Kong and we had plans to meet up. I took a long 15 hour train down to Shenzhen then crossed the border to meet up with Michael with a large group at a popular restaurant in Chungking Mansions.
There was about a dozen people plus Michael, but I wasn’t talking to any of them. There were so many people on WeChat in this city and I wanted to have interesting conversations with them. I was glued to my phone. Michael touched me on the shoulder and simply said “Be present.” I realized I had been staring down at my phone for the last 20 minutes by this point.
In retrospect, none of my WeChat conversations were interesting. I never met up with any of them.
Apps are not a replacement for hobbies. Apps are an O.K. substitute at maintaining friendships and relationships when you are not together. They have never and may never be amazing at creating those relationships. Friends and lovers still generally come from the real world. Sometimes they are also made online as a by product of another product. Many people have talked about friends they made playing online games or from their favorite subreddit.
The 6 Steps to Recovering from App Addiction
Step 1: Admit you have a problem
You can’t get help if you do not want help. You do not need a rewards app every time you eat steak. No matter how good the rewards are or if they have a deal coming up and oh my god you get a free ribeye on your birthday! Let’s pick a different app of mine.
Step 2: Silence the notifications
Step 3: Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs
As you ease off the app, it is important to rebuild your real life relationships. Otherwise, you will go right back to the apps.
Step 4: Delete the notifications
It is time for you to bug the app, instead of the app bugging you. You now have to open the app to view your notifications. Want to see when the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back? You’ll have to check the app when you remember.
Step 5: Contact those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person
I have a secret. I have been copying some these from the Alcoholics Anonymous steps. I am sorry for deceiving you. Speaking of which, did you know half the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are related to finding God? Where do atheist alcoholics go?
Step 6: Delete the app, use web view
You’re an independent person who don’t need no app. Delete it and simply use the web view. Fortunately for you, all these companies made their web views really annoying to use. Nothing reduces your reddit usage like asking you to download their app every 3 clicks.
Step 7: Believe in a higher power
I don’t believe you need to fully block the site from your phone or computer. Part of truly getting rid of an addiction, is living with it. You could go the route of fully blocking the site. But think about next time you are at a friend’s house and see they left a tab open on their laptop. Next thing you know, you’re stealing your mother’s television to buy three point lighting for your instagram stories.
What you should know is there is a higher power and that powers name is Chamath Palihapitiya. He made all his money at Facebook making it as addicting as possible.
He has repented though. Now he spends his time aggressively telling undergraduates and other investors their startups are a waste to society.