For over a decade almost every free second has been spent online. When social networks gained momentum, not only was I spending all my free time online, I started making time to go online. Combine that with a constant need to learn new things, it was over: I now had to force myself to go offline. I’ve even resorted to pulling the plug so my laptop dies. Embarrassing, I know.
I started TokyoFinds when I first moved to Japan and within several months it was doing well. Posts were getting picked up by major blogs (Bored Panda, Buzzfeed, etc.) and a lot of my friends in the US loved it.
Well. My login and password were saved in my phone and browser, so I hadn’t manually logged-in for over a year. When I switched phones, it set off some security trigger and prompted punching in email and password on both browser and app. Lo and behold I have zero clue.
I’ve been trying to ask Tumblr for help but they’re basically useless. So I’m closing that chapter of my internet life. (I’m blogging about Japan more in-depth here, if anyone’s interested.)
Several people immediately asked how I was able to pry myself away from my phone. Actually the conversations were more or less like this: how in the fuck does someone like you stay unplugged for so long?
It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.
For operation Internet detox, I started by reorganized my homescreen too look like this:
Social apps have always been strategically placed where they are the easiest to access. I swapped social apps with apps related to the activities I committed to do more: read and write. With help of muscle memory it’s working. I’ve been in the habit of constantly checking Facebook or Instagram and my fingers would touch the icons on the phone without thinking. Now, when my fingers automatically touch the screen where Facebook or Instagram were, Kindle and iBooks launch. In lieu of WhatsApp or LINE, Simplenote and Werdsmith open, prompting me to write.
I still have Facebook, Instagram and a few misc social apps. They’re just tucked into a folder where it takes effort to access. I turned off notifications* for all social sites and scheduled notifications for most messaging apps.
I also told myself to only check Twitter for news — being unplugged shouldn’t allow ignorance. Nuzzel is my favorite news app. Of all the news apps I’ve used, it’s the most solid with delivering articles most interesting to me. I barely need to launch Twitter anymore.
Since I didn’t trust myself, I took it a step further and disabled Wi-Fi in my home. So now my phone can only browse on mobile and if I go over my allotted 4gigs, I pay data overage fees. When money is involved it’s pretty easy to be disciplined.
It’s been less than a month but I barely go on Facebook anymore (just Messenger). Look at Twitter once or twice a day for news. And Instagram only in the morning — if that.
And that is how to wean off phone addiction. If I can do it, anyone can. Anyone.
*Backstory re: notifications: in 2011 I got fed up with notifications. It felt like my phone was constantly pestering me: someone commented on your post! You got a new mention! Email, email, email, respond, respond, respond. Text, text, text.
One day I got so irritated by my needy phone I turned off badges (the little red circle). My phone went from looking like this (left), to like this (right)
(I’ve also always had a one screen only rule: only keep apps I use.)
Turning off notifications made my life better. I was now in charge of when and what to respond to instead of letting my phone control my life. So I am used to having minimally invasive notifications.
I came across a post from a blog that taught me something so great, I wanted to share with everyone. However the writing was so painful to read (like fingernails on a chalkboard cringe worthy painful), I didn’t feel compelled to pipe it out on my networks, and did the next best thing: blog about it myself.
The 4-7-8 trick is actually not a trick. It’s a breathing technique used during meditation, yoga, wellness practitioners swear by it, etc. and now that I think about it, I’ve done it many times before during yoga. It never occurred to retain what I learned after leaving the session until now.
If you feel anxious, stressed, or have trouble sleeping, try this. I swear. It works.
breathe in through nose for 4 seconds
hold breath for 7 seconds
exhale from mouth for 8 seconds
Stress, anxiety → adrenaline pumps through veins → causing heart to beat rapidly = under-breathing.
4 second inhale forces more oxygen intake
7 second breath hold allows oxygen to affect bloodstream
8 second exhale emits carbon dioxide from lungs
above slows heart rate and increases oxygen in bloodstream to relax your heart, mind, and overall central nervous system; almost like a natural sedative.
The human body never ceases to amaze.
To learn more, I think this man pioneered the technique.
*Sidenote: not sure how I feel about the first post of 2015 being about some metaphysical mumbo jumbo but whatever, maybe this is a sign I need to think of myself and my well being more? Who knows, not really reading deep into it.
Since switching to the iPhone 6+, I’ve been reading a lot more in the past few weeks than (ashamedly) in the past year. I suppose the battery life, screen, and overall user experience of the phone prompts me to open the Kindle app more frequently.
Anyway, here is my round-up of books I recommend for 2014 — all non-fiction; I rarely read fiction anymore.
How Asia Works by Joe Studwell
Whizzed through in one sitting. Studwell makes compelling arguments for his thesis on the respective economies of Asia (developed and emerging). Easy to read and not ‘academic’ at all; which makes it an ideal book for non-business majors who want to learn about “Asia”.
I might be a bit biased, as this book combines two topics of my current interest (well, near obsession) with: economics and Asia.
*Not that it matters but it was also on Gates Notes — thanks Jason, for gifting this to me!
The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan
In 2012, I had the privilige of experiencing life in Washington D.C. during a US presidential election year. I met many people from all walks of life I probably wouldn’t have met in NY, LA, or SF.
2012 was also the year General David Petraeus – then Director of CIA – was under fire for a scandal. I couldn’t understand why tabloid topics were hogging air time and recall voicing it aloud a few times… which led to several conversations with random ranking or retired officers from the US military on their views of the General. The more stories I heard, the more I wanted to learn about this man everyone spoke so highly of. The anecdotes of him on the ground in the Middle East left me speechless — and will happily re-share (in person).
In January of 2014, this book was published and had been rotting on a ‘To Read’ list… until the 6+.
For the record my military, government, and defense knowledge are limited to what I learned in school and read in mainstream media. This book opened up a whole new world for me but, more than learning something new, I am in awe of General Petraeus’ leadership skills and strategic mind.
This GQ piece from 2008 encapsulates why I was so intent on learning more about him. Read the article here.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Zero to One simplifies complex business models and theories, goes over building companies and basic economics in an easily digestible way. Peter Thiel’s experience as well as passion for tech and The Valley are consistently laced throughout. The breadth of Thiel’s academic knowledge is showcased as he pulls in history, key historic figures, and even walks us through Silicon Valley during the consumer Internet years while sprinkling current factoids. His extraordinary business mind is clear from the first word to last.
It feels like a conversation with Peter Thiel as a mentor or investor of my startup and serves more as a self-help, motivational book for entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and nerds vs a business book.
As much as I respect him and his accomplishments, I wish I could say it changed my life. Sadly, I didn’t learn anything ground breaking . (Or perhaps I simply needed to lower expectations.)
Nevertheless, still a great read and resource.
A few of my highlighted passages: (click image to expand)
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is talk to locals. This is Reza. He is 22 years old from Solo, a region in the Central Java region of Indonesia. Java, by the way, is stunning. Google the images and prepare for your minds to be blown. But I digress.
Reza moved to Jakarta for university, and attends school during the day, works in a restaurant until midnight every day. He has been saving for an iPhone and is planning to purchase one some time soon. Not the 6. Not the 5s even. He is excited for the iPhone 5. Right now, I don’t even know the kind of phone he has.
I didn’t want to ask him how much he makes, but according to Salary Explorer, average restaurant worker salary in Jakarta is 7,400,000 IDR a month (appx: $600 USD).
Reza is only one of the many people I have talked with, to further understand the Indonesian — well Jakartan — market.
We all know the population is high. The GDP is through the roof. I’ve questioned people’s excitement about Indonesia in the past, but after experiencing Jakarta, I must admit, I am now a believer in this market too.
Indonesian people rapidly adapt to new technologies and have a willingness to learn — even, if they cannot currently afford to own devices and such to get them online or make their day to days easier with technology. I am thrilled to be here and look forward to sharing more on the ground stories of Indonesia.