I really love my smartphone, and I also hate it.
These devices are magical. Having been in the technology field for more than a decade, I’ve seen the computing power grow so much. I surmise the average person doesn’t comprehend how much computers have advanced in the last 20 years.
In fact, I suspect many don’t even consider a smart phone to be a computer. But indeed it is, and these handheld devices are now more powerful than their desktop and laptop counterparts of not long ago.
The changing computer landscape also brought with it advances in how information is delivered and consumed on the small screen. Social media has flourished. Email is still king. The ability to purchase with your phone has grown to around 25 percent of all purchases in the U.S.
These are amazing times.
I love spending money on awesome things. As we entered the holiday shopping season, I noticed a cooler that I had my eye on all year was on sale through a Facebook post. I’m not ashamed to admit I purchased my own Christmas gift, at 25-percent off, from my phone.
But I recognize that having these magical devices can also come with a curse. Because they are with us all the time, they have the ability to reach us almost nonstop with messages to buy things we maybe should hold off on, or even convince us to become less content with the life we have.
In light of this, I have started taking action to prevent the phone from becoming too much of a temptation for me.
- Apps: I started by deleting apps off my phone that tempt me to spend. After the fifth notification from Buffalo Wild Wings to come try its new special, I deleted the app and went to town on other apps that tempt me to spend. I don’t need these in my life right now.
- Unsubscribing from emails: Despite the growth of social media, email is still a very effective marketing tool. I’ve been fighting a battle to unsubscribe from all these lists I’ve gotten myself into over the years, but no matter how many I unsubscribe from, there seems to be something else I missed that pops up given long enough. I’ll keep fighting that battle. The effort is paying off; my inbox has a lot less solicitations in it these days.
- Being self aware with social media: This is a tricky one. Social media is great because it has allowed us to stay connected, but it’s also quite the marketing beast. My favorite social media platform is Instagram because unlike everything else out there, the pictures make me happy. But have you ever noticed how the perfect pictures with the beautiful images and the right filter can also make you feel just a wee bit discontented with your life? Yeah, that’s mostly fake, so beware of that. Many people only post pictures of the good things in their life. However, I don’t have a problem letting in a little darkness once in awhile.
- Content blockers: Apple introduced content (ad) blocking in 2015, and I use one to block most of the annoying ads on web pages. It isn’t a perfect technology, but it is better than going without on my iPhone. I’m not against ads, but some companies take it way too far by cramming too many ads on a page. As a sidenote, on my non-mobile device I like to use Ghostery for Chrome.
And as you can see from the picture above, I even made myself a wallpaper for my phone to remind me about “The Year Of No.” Now, the word “No” is the first thing I see before getting to my apps or my browser. Let’s hope these tools help me keeps our money in the bank and re-routed toward our debt.