Phone Detox Manifesto


#1

I’m returning to this forum and I originally posted here under a different username which I’ve deleted after going through a purge of many excess accounts across the internet.

I’m keeping track of my different surfing habits in a personal (handwritten) journal. I’m happy to report that I’ve achieved 38 days of not going on Reddit, 34 days of no news, and 27 days of no YouTube.

Ultimately, Reddit was my largest weakness and I’ve banned myself from ever going to that website again. I simply cannot have even a glimpse of a meme or a cat video. (I know this sounds ridiculous, but the endless scrolling invention really did destroy my self-control). I also banned myself from YouTube. I refuse to type it into a browser or even glimpse the website as well. The endless recommendations are hypnotizing and also destroy my willpower to resist watching hours of videos. Lastly, I’m opting out of any sort of news. I’m a reasonable intellectual kind of person, I graduated from college, I’m in grad school, I’m not suffering from any kind of severe emotional affliction, and yet the news cycle has the ability to completely destabilize me and derail me from my passions.

No more mass-shootings, no more wars, no more deaths, no more political upheavals. I choose not to be a part of that reality. Am I ignorant? No. Am I still passionate about human rights? Yes, of course, I love people. But, right now, I’m choosing my own human life. I hope the world can find a way to solve all sorts of problems as I do my best to be a good person. I also need hope for the future and contented happiness without the invasion of news about troublesome strange things that happen everyday in my very bizarre country (USA).

I’m never going to to win an argument against a bot/troll army. And internet journalism is simply terrible (misspellings, no human editors fact-checking the article). I’m literally sick of reading poorly written articles just so that I have a tidbit of information that lacks research, thought, and objective truth (objectivity used to be a goal of journalism… those of you who studied journalism might know that).

I’m not using social media, and sometimes I think about joining again to keep in touch with distant relatives. But, I really don’t want to be addicted… I honestly don’t want to know what every person I’ve ever met is doing… I don’t want to know that someone I went to middle school or summer camp with is dead, or married, or in rehab for the 10th time… Social media is weird.

At any rate, I check my email way too much. That’s my last vice.


#2

I really like your reasoning for nosurf - especially about the news! I feel that it’s always a weird thing to tell people you’re staying away from the news, however I always found constantly checking it would make me sad. I’ve subscribed to the NYT and am reading the paper in the mornings! I find this great as I don’t feel “out of the loop” but there is a definite stop to my news reading each day.

Would you be able to share with us your tactics for keeping off Reddit? Is it sheer willpower alone or are you using any software?


#3

Thank you for your response. Yes, it is strange to be so disconnected and “behind” the 24-hour news cycle. However, since I started NoSurf, my conversations are much more intimate. Now that friends and family know I’m no longer up-to-date, I like to ask them “what’s happening in the world” and they’re more than happy to share what they’ve read. As a natural skeptic, I’m not too worried about their opinions having an influence on me, I just like to share a moment of concern and understanding. I find myself having less of a sense of outrage now that I no longer read opinion pieces. (I used to love arguing and debating, but now I no longer crave that kind of conversation haha)

I discovered my internet vices by using Screen Time, and writing down which websites I visited most frequently. I didn’t believe I had a problem at first until I found out how many hours I was wasting. I started thinking about what triggered my anxiety and my need to use the internet. Every single time I saw hours go down the drain, I was able to attribute it to Reddit. Initially, I made a goal to stay off Reddit because that was my main surfing habit. I stuck to it, but then I spiraled into other time wasting habits that were significantly less rewarding and gratifying than Reddit. I’m now able to say that I have mostly tamed my internet usage.

Nosurf.org has many great suggestions for blocking websites. I have a bunch of website blockers on my laptop and I blocked myself from my own web browser settings haha. My phone is my weakness. I started off using the ScreenTime app on my iphone to block websites. I also have TimeGuard. These tools only worked moderately. What really helped was a K-safe (kitchen safe). You can buy it on the internet. It’s a box with a timer and it locks for a certain amount of hours. You can’t undo the time after you set it. Every time I got the urge to look at my phone to waste time, I put my phone in this box. Two weeks of constant hours-long punishment and banishment from my phone was enough to make me never want to look at Reddit again.

I also journaled during this period. I really did have some rather emotional crazy entries… I feel kind of silly, but my journal literally has an entry for Day 1-39 of No Reddit. These are consecutive days, without any re-starts or cheats.

Trust me, I failed several times when I first started. I realized I couldn’t even look at Reddit after enough re-starts on my goal. I didn’t keep track of my re-starts and I wish I had. It’s also too shameful for me. At any rate, for me, there is no “moderate” taking a peak at Reddit. The content is manipulated and tailored to keep users engaged. Social media is literally made to keep you on it for as many hours as possible. Once you fully realize and accept this, it will be easier to take drastic measures to stay off of these websites. I understand that many people are able to use these websites moderately, but I’m not one of those people, and that’s okay. I fully accept that I have zero control when it comes to socially manipulative algorithms.

Every time I use a web browser, I also write down what I search for and why. This helps define the habit and bring greater awareness to my actions. Writing has helped me identify the source of shame and guilt that comes after looking at porn, or online shopping, or looking at highlights of other people’s lives… Realizing that my surfing habits caused anxiety and insecurity helped me understand that my emotional well-being was suffering.