We’re not and have never been powerless victims to our devices.
Over at The Verge, Michael Zelenko writes about the Light Phone 2 and the high hopes of the low-tech phone:
The survey, sent out to Light backers, was focused on a straightforward question: What features would you like to see on the Light Phone 2? What they were really asking, though, was thornier: How minimalist should a minimalist phone be?
In a 2017 Wired story about the futility of minimalist devices, David Pierce identified it as the “this one thing” problem. Every customer has just “one thing” they absolutely need to have their minimalist phone do in order for it to replace their current device. But everyone’s “one thing” is different. In my 2018 review of the Light Phone 1, my “one thing” was texting. If only it texted, I said, the Light Phone would be an ideal minimalist device for me.
Some Light Phone 2 survey respondents indicated that their “one things” were basic tools like directions, maps, or a notes app. But others had maximalist requests: emojis, podcasts, encrypted messaging, additional micro SD slots, even WhatsApp and a Facebook app. The Light team had to tread a fine line.
The idea of the Light Phone is great. I love ideas, but ideas are the ‘caterpillars’ to the device ‘butterflies’ they can become and how an idea manifests itself in the real world might not work as perfectly as it did inside your brain.
In my own life I’ve tackled pocket computer addictions, distractions, and temptations from the other direction. For at least 5 years I’ve disabled notifications on all but a few of what I consider ‘essential’ apps on my iPhone: Mail and Messages. No other apps on my iPhone require notification badges, pop-ups or lock screen alerts. Not even my most used apps like Overcast, YouTube, Instagram, Slack, Safari, or Spotify. I also mute group text threads with my long-time, ball-busting friends from high school. I deleted the Facebook app years ago, and recently deleted the Twitter app. My iPhone is a fairly quiet device throughout the day.
This erroneous idea that we’re powerless victims to our devices is bullshit.