I am exhausted from the cross-platform-ness of everything.
Once upon a time, my life, and maybe even yours, used to have a phone, an mp3 player, a desktop, a gaming console, and finally, a television.
We used a phone to text and call. We used an mp3 player to listen to music. We used a desktop for browsing the web for work, to keep in touch with friends. We used a gaming console for games. We used the television to get the news and weather, sports, and tuned in to primetime television shows together with friends and family.
Our everyday lives used to revolve around five distinct devices, but each served a different function.
Nowadays, I still have most of those devices, except what I am doing with them has changed.
I’m checking emails on my phone. I am checking that same email account of my laptop at the coffee shop, and then open up that same email account back at work on my work desktop.
I’m watching Netflix on my television, later I am watching that same Netflix show on my tablet, and if I am deeply committed to binge through the show, I can be found in a haze staring at my iPhone on my commute to and from work.
I am no longer getting a different experience from each of the devices. Instead, I find myself doing the same thing across different screens.
This has to stop.
I appreciate that companies have invested in making their applications available across any and all devices, but I am going to take the initiative to say, “thanks, but no thanks.”
The first decision I am making is that if I want to watch a show, or a movie, or more often the highlights from last night’s game, I must watch them on the television. The television has the SmartTV features built in, so whether its Netflix or YouTube, I must watch them on and only on my television screen.
Next, my laptop.
I want to use my laptop for reading, writing, and programming–browsing the web, reading blogs, writing emails, developing programs. The laptop will not be used for watching any form of video content unless they are the instructional sort and needed for work. What about social networks? I want to take care of all those interactions on my laptop. Which means that any and all video conferences must be done through my laptop’s webcam: Facetime, Messenger video calls, Skype video meetings, all of those activities must be on my laptop.
Finally, my iPhone, the most personal device in our lives.
The first decision I have made is to take away the ability to browse the web from my iPhone. What? Yes, I have uninstalled both Google Chrome as well as the Google search applications. What about Safari? I was never a fan of Safari, so that app is easy to hide away in an app folder.
Next, I removed any and all video streaming services from my phone: goodbye YouTube, Netflix. After that, I uninstalled all social media and messenger applications because from now on I must do those tasks on a laptop, thank you very much. Last but not least, I got rid of all my email applications: no Outlook, no Gmail (again, we have laptops for that sort of things).
What I do want from my iPhone is to give me my phone calls (voicemails since I never pick up on any phone calls) and texts. I then need it to hold my ebooks and music collections, because reading on an OLED screen is more enjoyable than on a Kindle, and of course I need my music. Finally, I need my iPhone to take and store great photos of my friends, family, and documents. This has never been an issue, and Google Photos’ unlimited storage supports to keep them backed up.
I love technology. If you had told my seven-year-old self that I would one day have all these cool devices, I would have been so much more excited to become a grown up. But then, if you had then met up with an adolescent version of me, and had told him that all those cool devices just did the same thing each and every day, over and over again, he would have asked about how our future society became enslaved to devices–Orwell was a big part of my teenage years. What about my twenty-year-old self? He would wonder if I was or wasn’t making content for all those devices.
Which brings us to now, where I am in the earliest days of my fourth decade, and I am exhausted from how overbearing these devices have become in my life. Now, through explicating my thoughts in this essay, I want to establish a new separation of screens and mental states in hopes to regain a focused, energized, and peace of mind.