September marks 4 years of The Off Switch and 4 years of my quest to curb the role of technology in my daily life. A lot has happened in that time—personally, with technology, and in public sensibility—and with Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch this week, it seemed like a good time to look back and to look forward.
The first year of this journey was marked with a lot of big changes for my tech configurations. I dumped the iPhone, dumped the laptop, got a data-less QWERTY-phone, stopped doing work nights/weekends, and severely truncated my online activity near sleepy times. The change for me was instantly rewarding.
As the months and years have come and gone, I’ve adapted my plan. One example: after finding that I was spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get basic information like contacts and calendar info on and off my new-to-me “dumb-phone”, I switched back to the iPhone but still without data. And I’m spending more time than optimal online in the evenings. But what hasn’t changed is being offline when out and about and largely unavailable to work emails after hours.
Current set-up is a desktop at work only, an iPad Mini, and a neutered iPhone 4.
A long-time friend of mine and I have a long-running tradition: we watch Apple announcement events together and play arm-chair analyst. He lives in another state now so we do FaceTime or text while the news rolls out and speculate on how we would/will or wouldn’t/won’t be buying any particular device or service. Naturally, as I started The Off Switch, our opinions have diverged, but we both still enjoy speculating. He ususally gets the latest and greatest each time, by the way.
When the Apple Watch was announced, and the details of how it would work were unveiled, our conversation went something like this:
HIM: That looks awesome! Don’t you want one?
ME: I want one, but I probably won’t get one.
HIM: I get it.
ME: Maybe… the bigger iPhone 6 Plus (the “phablet”) could replace my iPad and my phone and my wallet.
ME: And I guess the Apple Watch would keep my phone put away such that I could do most of the limited things I take it out for now (calls, music, text, and directions).
Quickly my mind went to my wife’s phone, how she could get the new iPhone 6 and maybe I could take her iPhone 5, use it with no data, pair it with the watch, but then that wouldn’t change the iPad Mini…
Old habits die hard.
While the impulse to rationalize and upgrade is powerful, it’s really more of a fun diversion. I doubt I’ll be making any changes soon. But I have also been known to change my mind if I think a new set-up will improve the distractions and simplify. The bigger thing I am pondering right now is this idea of wearable tech, specifically a smart-watch. Generally, I don’t like having more devices on my person—with the beeping and the buzzing and the hey hey hey. Certainly, settings could eliminate a lot of that, but then it would essentially be a really expensive wristwatch. And I don’t wear a watch.
And if one’s goal is to have less distractions, interruptions, and needless bother, then is it preferable to have a phone tucked away that rarely comes out with a watch playing as the notifier ON YOUR BODY. Or is it better to just have the phone tucked away. I tend to think the latter.
Okay, upgrade avoided. An Apple Watch doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense for me. I’ll still have to think on the big phone as single device idea. Since I don’t spend a lot of time on my phone currently unless I’m reading or blogging like I am now, the goofiness of holding a huge phone up is not as much of an issue. But then I have to consider, does it make sense to fork over $500+ for a no-contract phone when I have no intention of using most of it’s features. Seems kind of gratuitous.
In any case, 4 years in and no plans of stopping for me. I’d be curious to know in what ways you limit the role of technology in your life… if any. Let me know in the comments.