Luxury today and tomorrow will be defined by the ability to disconnect, to live a secret life where there’s no need to stay constantly connected for the sole purpose of a future job or fear of missing out.
Social media is a poor insurance policy. Except disconnecting is not the goal — moderation is.
An excess of anything will make you sick, your eyes roll and stomach turn. The culprits: beer, candy, coffee, tv, and screen opiates.
Drunk and unconscious, the dopamine on loop — you aren’t meant to pursue hedonism all the time. You need time to restore some willpower.
The connective power of the internet is uncanny. Mobile tech is too good to be true. But we don’t need to be a millionaire to stem its negative impact.
The key to unlocking hashtag heaven is to take a deliberate break every once in a while. Leave your phone behind or you’ll unconsciously use it.
There it was, crushing the human will. It was the antithesis to my Kindle Jenner, a screen of sanctity for focus and learning.
The lite brite is an attention thief. Like a fresh bag of Skittles, it begs you to consume your favorite colors first.
The rainbow hue of Instagram may be the shiniest of them all. Beautiful photos have a smell, as love does.
On the go or at home, there is no sanctuary. The barrage of dopamine erases all head consciousness. Enter wonderland.
The only escape is Gmail, that insignificant other who instills a feeling of control. Yet, it too is goose chase to unproductivity.
The internet never ends. Like a perpetual wave of Hokusai-like talons, buffering into the collective consciousness. Altered attention, altered thoughts, altered beliefs, forever planted at the altar of distraction.
The variety of colors on our smartphone screens pop like candy. As advertiser Bruce Barton wrote in his 1925 book In The Man Nobody Knows, “The brilliant plumage of the bird is color advertising addressed to the emotions.”
We tap into Instagram, scroll through a few photos, and return to the home screen to bounce off to other apps. And then we repeat the process again in a mindless fashion.
After a while, we start to lose all conscious brain power. We fly between apps like we’re hitting buttons at the casino. The variable rewards keep us spinning in a ludic loop. Technology undermines our attention by bombarding our senses with a surfeit of stimuli that lights up like a Christmas tree.
Turn it gray. That’s right: we need to dull our screens to bore our senses. Turning the phone grayscale doesn’t make it dumb, it just makes it less attractive. Writes Nellie Bowles in the New York Times:
I’m not a different person all of a sudden, but I feel more in control of my phone, which now looks like a tool rather than a toy. If I unlock it to write an email, I’m a little less likely to forget the goal and tap on Instagram. If I’m waiting in line for coffee, this gray slab is not as delightful a distraction as it once was.
Steve Jobs died six years ago today. He was 56 years old. His uniqueness, unconventional leadership, and big-picture thinking will never be forgotten.
Jobs made tech fashionable. He made sure to remind us that we are the creators.
Below are some of my favorite Jobs’ quotes along with a video (see above) where he shares his vision of the world:
“Make something wonderful, and put it out there.”
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.’
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
“You have to be physically and mentally present to recognize these things and be ready for them, to recognize that something special is happening on the street in front of you. That really is the skill. It’s almost more important than getting the photograph. It’s recognizing the significance of something.”
Done is better than perfect, in some cases, as in updating a web design or app. But in China, ‘almost’ is a pervasive and dangerous mindset. Known as ‘Chabuduo’ or ‘good/close enough,’ can have disastrous effects when it comes to building everyday things, especially infrastructure.
James Palmer is a foreigner living in China and writes about his close encounters with Chabuduo, including everything from shoddy apartment pipes to broken front doors, poisoned food, to half-built parking lots.
Carelessness leads to death; one government official says there’s a deadly explosion every month. State-controlled tv even suppressed the news after the Tangshan chemical plant explosion in March 2014, killing 55 and wounding hundreds.
The Chabuduo attitude may come in handy on a farm when you have to use an old cloth to stop a broken pipe, but its substandard practices fail at scale in cities and at chemical plants where building with modern materials and following safety instructions prevent catastrophes.
For all Trump’s scaremongering on China, he’d be better off pointing to the people’s willingness to cut corners, their attitude of “good enough for government work.” But he’s more concerned about the thing China excels: making iPhones.
Craftsmanship is about care and expertise, not about faking competence and skipping the fundamentals. Half-ass effort yields half-ass results. Poor quality reveals itself eventually.
“In the end, what perpetuates China’s carelessness most might be sheer ubiquity. Craft inspires. A writer can be stirred to the page by hearing a song or watching a car being repaired, a carpenter revved up by a poem or a motorbike. But the opposite also holds true; when you’re surrounded by the cheaply done, the half-assed and the ugly, when failure is unpunished and dedication unrewarded all around, it’s hard not to think that close enough is good enough. Chabuduo.”
We vacuum our free time up only to replace it with busyness.
Busyness is the purposeful avoidance of doing something with long-term significance in replacement for doing something with immediate tangible results, like answering email.
No one will be thinking about inbox zero on their death bed, says Dan Ariely, Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics. “Why is email available 24/7?,” calling the email game ‘structured procrastination.’
Play the long game
We pursue meaningless stuff all day like email and social networking instead of thinking or working on long-term projects because we can’t stand boredom. We’d rather be something rather than nothing, even choosing electrocution over silence. Joelle Renstrom, a writing professor at Boston University punishes students who leave their cell phones on by making them “sing a song or bust some dance moves in front of the class.”
But there are also people who are work-obsessed and take on too much. Their compulsiveness with doing is an escape from difficult emotions, caring more about their work than taking care of their kids, as one workaholic admits.
‘Try harder!’ ‘Go faster!’ ‘Do more!’
People schedule and accept more meetings just to keep busy. There’s a misperception that the more you work you have, the busier you are, and therefore more important you are. We become slaves to the ‘always-on’ Internet. Busyness relegates life to secondary status, which can take a toll on our health and relationships.
Yet, as much as technology increases busyness and productivity, it could also help save it. Apps like Headspace and Calm encourage people to use their devices to step back into the present.
Busyness needs a deeper purpose for it to be justified. It can’t all be about enjoying the stimulation and creating unnecessary stress. Sometimes the quiet moments are exactly what we need to do better work.
“Keep ’em typing!” says Kenneth Alexander, a typewriter repairer with over forty years of experience. He works for California Typewriter in San Francisco, one of the last surviving typewriter repair shop in the United States.
California Typewriter is also the name of a new documentary out from American Buffalo Pictures, which highlights “the portrait of artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as a tool and muse, featuring Tom Hanks, John Mayer, David McCullough, Sam Shepard, and others.”
The life of a computer is 3-5 years. The life of a typewriter is a century. The typewriter once made writing faster and louder. Today, the typewriter’s nostalgic noise may be the only reason people want to use them again. Says typewriter surgeon Paul Schweitzer who still fixes 20 of them a week from his Flatiron office:
“If you want to concentrate, if you want to write in your own mind, write with a typewriter. You see the words hit the paper. There’s no distractions.”
Tom Hanks grew so nostalgic of the typewriting in the digital age he recreated it as an app, eponymously named the Hanx writer. “I wanted to have the sensation of an old manual typewriter – I wanted the sound of typing if nothing else…cause I find it’s like music that spurs along the creative urge. Bang bang clack-clack-clack puckapuckapuckapucka… I wanted the ‘report’ of each letter, each line.”
Part of the typewriter’s appeal is its rejection of the multi-tasking and impulsiveness behavior of ‘Generation Thumbs‘ on iPhone and iPads. The beauty of slowing down and Internet-less device is avoiding distractions enhancing your mind’s focus, developing a concentration that many readers experience with the Kindle. Note, however, you can replicate the pace of a typewriter on your phone if you type with one hand.
Don’t expect the typewriter to enjoy the same comeback success story as vinyl– typewriter enthusiasts are a small niche. But do expect the typewriter to be live on in new formats, whether it’s an app or a distraction-free writing tool like the Hemingwrite “with a continuous wi-fi connection to your Evernote account.”
Edward Snowden is developing an iPhone case that will let you know if if you’re being tracked.
According to the US’s “third party doctrine,” the government has the right to hack into your phone’s signals and steal it’s metadata, including your email and photos. Even phones on “Airplane mode” can still be hacked.
This is why Snowden hasn’t owned a mobile phone since 2003. Phones are “kind of like kryptonite to me” he told Wired.
Snowden is collaborating with hardest hacker Bunnie Huang on the build. While their device is mainly for journalists, they want to make it available to anyone looking to go off the grid.
“We want to give a you-bet-your-life assurance that the phone actually has its radios off when it says it does.” – Bunnie Huang