How to Wean Off Phone Addiction

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 reorganizing my homescreen too look like this:

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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.

Mission Internet Detox

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Face in phone as always.

 

I have a problem. I am addicted to the Internet.

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.

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Internet Power Balance Shift to Asia

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The WSJ had a nice piece breaking down the mega internet companies of the world — of course US leads the pack but Asian companies aren’t doing so shabby either. China is of course leading the ‘Asia’ pack due to sheer population volume. Seriously, file that under no shit Sherlock.

But there were some fun factoids:

  • 45% of the world’s nearly 3 billion internet users are in Asia
  • WeChat (owned by Tencent) has about 440m users
  • Tencent’s profit margin in the second quarter was 32%, compared with 27% at Facebook and 21% at Google.
  • Tencent’s stock-market value is $148 billion, compared with Facebook’s $194 billion.
  • LINE (Japanese messaging app) had revenue of $323 million, 16 times the estimated revenue of WhatsApp.

…separately, it’s really funny how ‘tech journalists’ don’t seem to understand the products they are writing about. This particular author, said WeChat is WhatsApp’s rival. No. No. No. I can not say this enough times: they are two very different products. WhatsApp is a communication utility – a tool. WeChat is a full fledged platform, an ecosystem.

The author also calls LINE stickers ‘cutesy emoticons’ — which further highlights the lack of understanding of mobile behavior in Asia even after NYT wrote about it!! (Pretty embarrassing).

Oh well. I guess that’s why there is a need for someone like me or Jon Russell of TNW and a dedicated publication like TIA to pipe on about this region.

The Internet Never Forgets

The first week of Sept. 2014, I will always remember as the week a lot of people I value and cherish came to Japan for Startup Asia, Tokyo. The conference was wonderful and I cannot say enough nice things about everyone at Tech in Asia and the people they attracted.

So please don’t get take this the wrong way.

The following post has nothing to do with Startup Asia, Tech in Asia, the people who attended the conference, nor my friends and colleagues. This post does, however, has everything to do with an attendee I unfortunately met.

He was introduced as a friend of a friend and during the first few seconds of our conversation my gut told me something was a bit off about this guy. And so I was short with him and didn’t really engage. Little did I know, my intuition was correct.

This guy introduced himself as Ken Charles, but lo and behold: I found out his real name was Ken Hoinsky. He is known as the “Reddit Pick-up Artist” and wrote a book on how to pick up women.

He was under fire on the internet for certain things he wrote on Reddit and passages from the book.
Ex:

It’s easy enough to believe that Hoinsky did not set out to write a how-to guide on forcing women into sex, but his political and cultural blindspots enabled him to publish advice that instructs men to “continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it’s not happening” (defined by Hoinsky as shouting “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME”) without an ounce of critical self-reflection.

And his project was banned from Kickstarter.

Whatever this guy’s deal is or was, I don’t really care, as I plan to never interact with him again. Lesson here, is that you can change your name. Change locations. Change jobs. But always remember: THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS.

Always think before posting stuff online.

Charts: Global Internet usage

I had to blog this vs tweeting  — it’s just too good not to share.
Take a look:

share-of-population-that-has-never-used-the-internet-2013_chartbuilder

  • 20% of Europeans have never used the Internet.
  • 34% of Italians have never used the Internet — via qz

Granted, there are still 13% of American adults in 2014 don’t use the Internet [1] but these numbers still astound me.

Then there is Asia — and I loathe using ‘Asia’ so loosely because Asia is BIG — but they are the global leader in online growth: 42% APAC vs 27% Europe — Comscore Asia forecast (PDF)

This is also a good opportunity to revisit the scope of technological adoption and revenues coming out of Asia.
Parallel with online growth; the increase of mobile traffic, combined with mobile revenues makes this region, the most interesting when it comes to disruptive technologies + monetization.

ChartOfTheDay_1088_Percentage_of_global_page_views_from_mobile_devices_n

 

Asia includes the following four countries: China, India, Japan and South Korea. Those four countries account for 66% of Asia’s population, 60% of Asia’s mobile connections and over 70% of regional mobile income. Four markets, four countries with four very different ecosystems.

China = population of 1.4 billion people, GDP of 8.2 trillion USD
India = population of 1.2 billion people, GDP of 1.84 trillion USD
South Korea = population of 50M people, GDP of 1.13 trillion USD
Japan = population of 127.6M people, GDP of 5.96 trillion USD

Then, there are the smaller countries with high GDPs and/or high population like: Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, etc., etc.

To put that into perspective, the US has a population of 314M people (double Japan) with a GDP of 15.68 trillion USD. Compared to the big four Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, India and China), the US has been ahead of the race as far as development, access and economic distribution. This development gap the US has, is significantly wider with India and China than the gap the US has with Japan and South Korea, but the US is still ahead of these four countries.

WSJ just reported China is projected to overtake the US in mobile revenue [2] but as I said here, Japan should be the market to pay attention to, as

  1. smartphone penetration is still low
  2. spend is high — and keeps growing

Looking at global run rates and stats, it’s all about Asia and realistically, which markets and ecosystems one can penetrate.

 

 

 

Why I Love the Internet

Warning: this post has nothing to do Japan, Asia, chat apps, or tech but an ode to the Internet.

There has been a stranger tweeting me with his photos.
Take a look:

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And one more for good measure:

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I totally get how people might be creeped out by him. I mean, he’s this old guy posing in front of a pile of dirty dishes. Heck, I can’t even tell if all his teeth are in place.

I think he should be celebrated.

This man, let’s call him John, is tweeting photos to random females from all over. I don’t know how he finds them, the women he are tweeting are really, that random (I checked his stream). He is using Twitter as a dating tool.

Looking at these photos of this man I am calling John, I assume he lives in South Carolina. Or far up north in Florida. Maybe Arkansas, or some state in the South in a town with a population of 500.

He lives in a trailer littered with beer cans and there are piles of ashtrays filled with charred cigarette butts — he smokes every cigarette until it reaches the filter. His kitchen counter has no space, covered with heaps of  Wonder Bread, Oscar Mayer bologna, Kraft Singles, and BBQ potato chip wrappers. He has a tv with rabbit ears that only has one channel: FOX.

He works as a dish washer at a truck stop and his apron is stained with maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, mayo. Every night after work, he stops by the bar along Highway 5 to drink a warm beer, served by the 50 year old bartender Barbara.

He owns a Samsung SCH-293874923861723 — a prepaid, throwaway Android with maybe a three hour battery life. 3G connection.

This man John, whose life I can only imagine, has found his way onto twitter. He created an account. Figured out a way to take photos. Then tweet the photos to random women all over the world. And I fucking love it. How can you not?

I love that the Internet gives everyone a voice. Even John from Timbuktunowhere. And this, is only one of the many reasons why I love the Internet and technology so so so much.

It’s really, the little things.
*if you need another reminder, I posted another one a while back here.