Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen take the “National Day Of Unplugging” seriously. Also inspired by the book Digital Minimalism they realize the many benefits that you gain when unplugging from technology. For one, you’ll have more time in your hands, helping you to become more present in the moment. You get many things done when you’re not distracted by scrolling through social media on your phone. But many of us are not simply distracted by technology; we’re addicted to it. We get dopamine hits whenever we receive a new follower or a new email. If you want to learn more about why you should unplug from technology and how you can do it, then this episode is for you.
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Digital Minimalism: Why Unplugging From Technology Is Good For You
We’re doing this episode on March 6, 2021, which is still part of the National Day of Unplugging. I wish that I had known about this day farther in advance because, A, I would have encouraged you, the reader, to participate in this day, and B, I would have set myself up for more success to participate. I’m not quite sure how I even came across this pausing to reflect on that possibly, Instagram. Social media can be beneficial after all, but I’ve been thinking a lot about digital minimalism inspired by our friend Adam Yasmin, who encouraged me to read a book called Digital Minimalism. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
I’ve been reflecting on my usage of devices, especially my phone, for years but I haven’t committed to reducing them in a major way. I set up the standard things that you can do on the iPhone, which is it gives you alerts. You can put time limits on your apps. That didn’t help. I ended up ignoring them. Eventually, I turned it off because it was pointless for me. I have tried half-assed to turn off my device an hour or so before bed. I’ve tried not using my device first thing in the morning. I’ve realized through all of these trials how difficult it is to do those things.
When I heard about National Day of Unplugging, I thought, “I’ve got to give this a try.” I looked at my calendar and I was unable based on my business commitments to do the full 24 hours that they recommend. However, I did sixteen hours and that was quite profound. On Friday, March 5th, I set my whole night up so that I had nothing important to do after sundown because, at sundown, that was when the day officially began. I turned off all my devices. I turned off my phone, iPad, and computer and set them out of sight so I wouldn’t be tempted. I turned off the internet, the Wi-Fi.
What I didn’t turn off was my Apple Watch but I set that on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode so I wouldn’t get alerted. I love using my Apple Watch. I will say it wasn’t fully device-free. I like using the watch because it tracks my steps, shows me the time, and tracks my water intake through my fancy water bottle. It’s called the Hydrate. By the way, you can absolutely use the tools that the National Day of Unplugging website and social media accounts recommend. You can do this anytime. You don’t just have to celebrate Earth Day on Earth Day. You can celebrate the Earth year-round. The same thing is true with the National Day of Unplugging.
I went to minimal device usage and it was an absolutely fascinating process that I want to start off this conversation on, especially because Jason, Adam Yasmin, and I did an event on Clubhouse about productivity and that led up until sundown for me in Los Angeles. That was the last thing I did online. I would love to talk about that with you, Jason. Before we get into it though, I will share more about my experience. The first thing I noticed was that when I turned off my devices, I had a moment of not knowing what the heck I was going to do for the rest of my night. I had set myself up with a plan, but I felt strange for the first hour. It blew my mind.
It reminds me of whenever I’ve done a cleanse or detox or a fast. For example, a juice cleanse, which I know you’ve done, too, Jason. It’s like that moment when you realize like, “This is the last meal I’m going to eat for however many days.” You feel empowered but you also feel nervous because you’re used to eating food, the nourishment, and the sensation of it. When you’re on maybe the 2nd or 3rd day of a juice cleanse, you miss chewing food and you miss the texture. That’s the closest I can describe to how it felt in that first hour of not having my device.
It felt unfamiliar to not go to my phone. In my head normally, I think, “I can easily go an hour without my phone.” It feels easy because after the hour is over, I’ll pick up my phone. In this practice, I was going for sixteen hours, which isn’t that much time, but in the context of how often I typically use my phone in a sixteen-hour window, my brain was like that withdrawal feeling. I was fascinated by it. Granted, eight of those hours, I was sleeping, so it was only eight hours. I also decided that I was going to go a period of time without even listening to music because of course, we use devices for music. I don’t have a little analog radio player or anything nearby.
Typically, I would use my phone, computer, or iPad for that. I have an Apple HomePod, which is their speaker and that’s connected to the internet. In hindsight, I didn’t turn off the internet quite yet because I eventually turned the HomePod on. The only reason I felt comfortable doing that is because the National Day of Unplugging said that, “The main goal was not to use your eyes to look at screens. If you wanted to listen to things, that was different,” so that’s an important distinction. I was trying to go cold turkey and what I ended up doing with the first few hours of my time off devices was cleaning and making dinner. I thought, “I don’t need to listen to music, but I had enough of the silence.”Be super present in the moment. Click To Tweet
I was like, “That’s enough silence for now. I’ll listen to some music.” It was also interesting, too, when you turn off things and your senses are heightened, you notice so many sounds that you might not notice when you’re looking at something, first of all. It’s fascinating to think that the way that we’re using our vision takes so much brainpower that we tune out noises. If somebody is talking to you and you’re on your phone, you’re probably not absorbing everything that they’re saying because our brain is processing the visuals. Without visuals, at least from my device, I was noticing the street sounds and nature sounds and I opened up a window. I wanted stimulation and I wanted to hear something.
That’s why eventually I asked Siri in my HomePod to play some music and I played classical music. I was like, “I’m going to listen to something instrumental with no music and calming.” It was lovely. I then switched over to an Instrumental Chill playlist, at least that’s what Apple called it, and that was great, too. It sounded like elevator music or music you hear in a restaurant. I enjoyed that experience a lot. No words. Just nice relaxing music. I deep cleaned my home so much, and then I made a meal fully present.
Normally, I would be on my device. I would be in the kitchen perhaps and I would be scrolling through social media in-between steps. While I was waiting for something to cook on the stove, I’d pick up my phone and look through it. Now, I cleaned in between. I cooked up cauliflower rice stir fry. As that was cooking, I went around the kitchen and continue cleaning and put things away, and went back to my food. The other big thing that was interesting was eating without devices because normally, I watch something every time I eat.
I’m either on social media scrolling TikTok for example or I’ll watch a clip of a TV show or part of a movie or something. I was by myself, so I’m sitting there quietly eating the meal and not looking at any devices. It was too awkward to read a book or something while I was eating, so I just sat there. It was like, “Why does that feel so foreign?” It was such a fascinating experience. The other remarkable thing is that I got so much cleaning and tidying done in about two hours. I could not believe how much I did at that time. Time felt elongated. It felt so stretched out. Those two hours were at a pace that I don’t normally sense when I’m on a device when everything feels fast-paced all the time.
The perspective that I got from that made me realize that many of us feel like there’s not enough time in the day. What if that’s because we are using devices and they’ve trained us to believe that and have that sensation? The reality of life is that there’s plenty of time in the day to get a lot of things done. We are so distracted by our devices that we’ve lost so much sense of time. The other interesting thing was that I ended up going to bed way earlier than normal, at least an hour earlier because I ran out of things to do without TV and devices.
Normally, I have my to-do list and I’m working on things, I’m watching things or I’m doing something creative on a device. Without those tendencies, there wasn’t much left for me to do. I normally read books on my iPad and I didn’t allow myself to do that so I just picked up my journal and I picked up a hardcopy book that I had. I read a little bit of that. I journaled a little, and then I went to sleep. I woke up and I use my phone and my iPad as alarms, but they were completely off. I didn’t turn them back on and I didn’t turn the internet on. I didn’t go to my computer until I had to for business. I found myself dreading going back to devices, even after sixteen hours of being off of them.
Once I got back on my computer, I also realized I don’t need my phone that much. I did use it a few times to take photos because I’m working on a photo project. I took a couple of basic photos before I turned my computer on. That’s all I’ve used my phone for aside from the alarm. I turned on my computer and I got business done. As soon as one part of my business was done, I close my computer and went back. I enjoyed lunch without devices. I found myself paying more attention to how I was making my food, how I was eating my food, and the way the food tasted and the sensations of it, and slowing down to enjoy it.
It’s interesting that first of all, Whitney, you used the word dread to describe getting back on your devices because that’s a particular word. Not anxious and not nervous, but dread. That word feels to me like it’s a bit heavier and denser. Maybe there’s a little bit of fear. Your word choice is interesting. Before I get into what I did on my evening of the National Day of Unplugging, I don’t know why you chose that word, but it hit me in a particular way. When you say dread, what is that feeling? How do you describe that feeling? Was it like, “I don’t want to touch my phone,” or like, “Once I turn it back on, I’m going to get sucked in and I don’t know if I can pull myself back out?” What do you mean in terms of a sensation or a set of feelings when you use the word dreading to get back on your devices?
It is what you’re saying, which is that fear of being sucked back into it and noticing the intensity and the anxiousness that goes along with that. There was a different level of anxiety and I was a little concerned that something happened that needed my attention, even though National Day of Unplugging fell on a Friday night to a Saturday where the great majority of people aren’t working. That made it easier. When I turned on my device, I didn’t have any messages. I had just one from a friend. I don’t think even you had messaged me, Jason.
I remember, too, before I turned off my devices, I wish that there was a setting on the phone that would alert people like, “I’m not going to be on my phone for X amount of time. If it’s an emergency, here’s how to reach me.” That’s something that I was reflecting on. There must be some system set up that way. You can do that with auto-replies on emails, but how do you set that up for your devices? I wondered moving forward if it would be beneficial to set more regular hours like this.
Crazy idea, but maybe I could set my business schedule up where I don’t work after a certain time so that people know I’m training them by setting boundaries that I will not reply to them after or before this time. That’s something that I would like to do, Jason. I also reflect a lot on the urgency in which people expect replies from us and how if we don’t reply within a certain amount of time, we think something’s wrong. I’m guilty of this, too. That’s a huge issue. Believe that comes up in Digital Minimalism, the book that I referenced.
What you’re saying in your detailing makes me reflect on the levels of addiction that many of us have, and I don’t use that word lightly. The way that you were describing your sixteen-hour fast from devices though, Whitney, is it used the word withdrawal, too. There are many pieces of language and descriptors you used that are commonly also used for people dealing with addiction. Similar to you, after our Clubhouse room ended with Adam and I was waiting for my girlfriend, Laura, to come over and have dinner, I remember feeling this sensation in my body of anxiety. I’m watching myself go over to pick up my phone and go, “Why are you doing this?”You have time to do your dream thing, to write your book, to launch your course. Do it! Click To Tweet
Having a pattern interrupt where I was having a conversation with myself going, “Why are you doing this?” I realized that it’s become habituated. Whether I need to or not for business or catching up with friends or any social interactions, I’m just checking the phone to check the phone. There’s no reason why I’m checking it, to be honest. There’s no palpable reason why I need to look at my email for the 55th time, why I need to check my Instagram DMs for the 75th time, and why I need to refresh Clubhouse to see if I’ve crossed 1,000 followers yet.
There’s no reason for me to do this crap, but I also observed my habituation and dare I say, my addiction that there’s something I’m trying to receive from checking this device over and over again. We talked about it before, the neurochemical addiction of how when we get a new follower, a new like, and a new email, it’s a dopamine hit. Why is that important? We’ve talked about dopamine and neurotransmitters. That dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter. It’s like, “I did a good job. Awesome. Cool.” It’s a motivating and rewarding neurochemical in our brains.
I also have to admit that on some level, I observed myself being habituated to unconsciously picking up the phone and also that I am chemically addicted to whatever little digital rewards I’m getting. You and I have certainly talked about ad nauseam and some of the implications of this in our assessment of the Social Dilemma, Fake Famous, and Childhood 2.0. To you, dear reader, if you haven’t read those episodes yet where we break down a lot of the research, social ramifications, and our opinions on those documentaries, our website is Wellevatr.com.
The interesting part about this process for me is observing my hand and my body going toward the phone to pick it up and look at it and this pattern interrupt of saying, “Why are you doing this?” I’m literally asking out loud. It was such a fascinating moment, Whitney, because it wasn’t necessarily like I was having a disembodied experience. There are moments in my life, whether that’s been through deep meditation or float tank therapy or using different psychedelic drugs, as I talked about in our Ayahuasca episodes.
It wasn’t exactly like that level of detachment or disembodiment, but the eternal I, my soul, my spirit, there are so many different ways we could phrase this, I was observing my body reaching for the phone. It was that level of presence. You talked about being super present at your meal, Whitney, and being super present with your cleaning and tidying of the house. My version of that was being present watching my hand go toward the phone and going, “We don’t need to do this. Let’s make a meal with our girlfriend, have dinner, be present, not be on our phones, and spend time with the fur babies on the couch. Just being.”
This brings up an interesting thing because you had withdrawals. I noticed myself having an anxious habitual tendency to grab the phone to grab it. The question is, what steps do we take to continue to be present and be intentional about our usage? You and I have talked a lot about, “Am I going to get off social media completely or just restrict my usage?” Your idea of limiting it to business hours and training people to observe those boundaries is important. I’ve observed myself being on my computer at 10:00 PM trying to squeeze in a little bit more work and realizing that’s not how I want to live. I don’t think it’s healthy. I don’t think it’s healthy for my sleep hygiene and for my mental health in general.
What we’re talking about is raging against the machine, for lack of a better term, when the world is expecting us to be more productive. That’s one thing we talked about in our Clubhouse room with Adam. Adam kept saying, “I sound like a broken record.” He’s like, “We’re in the middle of a fucking pandemic.” To his point though, there’s this idea because we’re at home, not commuting in our cars, and not on the road, that we have these extra hours in the day that we ought to be more productive with. Whether that’s business coaches and entrepreneurs saying, “This is your time to crush it. You have all this time to do your dream thing to write your book, launch your course, and do your thing.”
If you’re an employee talking to my friends that are full-time employees that are working from home, it’s a very similar mentality of, “You’re not commuting, so use those two extra hours you’d be on the road to work.” What is all this for? Is it for shareholder value? Is it to extract and pummel the maximum amount of efficiency out of every single human being? Ultimately, what I want to look at is overcoming all of the messages, marketing, and media that seek to further commodify human beings and treat us as objects, robots, and cogs in the machine.
It’s not to say that work isn’t important of course work is important but this blind allegiance to productivity, efficiency, and hard work at the risk of presence, connecting with our loved ones, and not making nourishing meals for ourselves. Prior to this episode, I realized I haven’t been playing with my animals. I need to go take my dog outside and play ball with her. Work will get done. It’ll get done when it gets done. You and I have a thing on TickTick with a list of things to do. I’m aware we have a lot of things we want to accomplish for not only our individual businesses but our Wellevatr business and this podcast.
I’m going to go outside and play ball with my dog and shit will get done when it gets done. It’s not to be laissez-faire about it because some people might say, “That’s a lazy approach, Jason. Stuff has got to get done.” Yes, but I also want to have a good connected time with the people I love and care about. That’s important to me too. It’s having good quality time with the people I love and care about whether those be animals, human or otherwise.
I don’t even know what the otherwise is. Who else am I hanging out with ghosts, apparitions, pet rocks? Sometimes I say shit and I don’t know what it means but welcome to the show. I’m curious, Whitney, with this pressure that we have talked about in Clubhouse and this pressure I’m talking about now. When you mentioned the feeling this thing of expecting a reply away or certain people we work with either explicitly stating so or subtly implying. This is something I still struggle with.
Without being blunt with people like, “I’ll get back to you, when I get back to you,” how do we start to enforce these boundaries? How do we start training people to not expect stuff from us right away when they want it? What are your thoughts on that? How do we start to do this because sometimes I’m ready to be aggressive about it and I don’t want to be aggressive with people? I still want to be clear enough to let them know that I’m not jumping through their hoops when they want me to jump through their hoops.
The great majority of this is simply leading by example and people figure it out quickly if you don’t respond to them right away, they know that you’re not a person that responds quickly. If you do get back to them eventually, the definition of quick is relative. I think about this all the time. I went through all my unread emails, which are a few hundred and I started organizing them and trying to figure out how I am going to get through them, which are important. “Do I need to unsubscribe to newsletters?” I do this maybe once a year and there are unread emails that I have anxiety about because I’m worried that the people are going to think I’m never going to respond.
Honestly, there will be times where I literally never respond to somebody. That happens because it’s a low priority for me. Unless somebody follows up, it might never become a higher priority. That’s a smart choice for us on both ends of this is if we message somebody we shouldn’t take offense unless they tell us they’re not interested. If they never reply, they might have forgotten, have other priorities, waiting for you to become a bigger priority or they might have different relationships to time than you. It’s on both sides of this.
For the majority of people in life, you don’t have to offer an explanation. You simply reply when you’re ready to reply. Culturally, we become a costume to apologizing. This happened in a business transaction that I’m in. I’m not in a rush but the people that I’m corresponding with are afraid that I’m upset with them for not replying right away. I’m not. Multiple times, there’s been a gap of a few days, maybe a week in between emails from them. They always apologize profusely. I don’t know how many times to say to them, “It’s okay. It’s not that big of a deal to me. There’s not a sense of urgency yet.”Focus on having a good, connected time with the people you love and care about. Click To Tweet
Setting more boundaries for ourselves and for others and being clear when it is urgent and redefining what that means. I texted somebody and I said, “If you need to reach me, my phone’s going to be off, so unless it’s urgent, please don’t reach out to me until tomorrow.” I have it set on my phone that if somebody calls me twice in a row, it’ll come through Do Not Disturb, which is a nice feature. It’s not set up that way for texting. It’s interesting because sometimes people will text urgent things because they’re used to getting a quick response. Jason, the other point of this that’s interesting is there are so many forms of communication now and this is part of where my anxiety is.
People direct message you on Instagram, sometimes on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Direct messages, there are so many channels. From my perspective, that’s for most people, you shouldn’t assume that you’re going to get a quick response to a DM. However, there are some people who treat their DMs as text messages. They’re in their corresponding a lot. We’ve got text messages, emails, and phone calls. We even have the lost art of in-person communication. There’s a lot of different avenues in which somebody might try to reach us.
First and foremost, we have to be clear. We can set up automated systems I was talking about, you can, on a lot of the social media platforms set up an auto-reply. That’s one thing you can try. You can say, “I only check this on this day or X amount of times per week or during this timeframe.” This was something that Tim Ferriss wrote about in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. He recommended back when that book was written, which feels an eternity ago, but late 2006, perhaps that came out maybe 2008. I read it between 2008 and 2010 if I’m remembering correctly, which feels like a long time ago. That still applies now.
If you create boundaries, if you correspond with people and you say, through your example, but also creating boundaries with them to let them know that, “These are the hours in which you’ll hear back from me,” then somebody can feel a little bit more comfortable. I honestly wish more people would do that. I wish more people used auto-replies because when I say send an Instagram DM there’s still a question in my head, “Will I ever hear back from this person?” However, that’s coming back to the follow-up. When somebody follows up with me, they become at least a slightly higher priority. By the third time somebody follows up with me, if they’re kind and professional about it, they’re a priority because I know that they care.
Most people don’t follow up and that sometimes signals to me that they’re not a priority, because I don’t feel like a priority to them. You can do the same thing. If you’re on the opposite end and you’re waiting to hear back from somebody, maybe they’re spending less time on their devices, or maybe they’ve spent more time boundaries. Don’t be afraid to follow up and do it kindly, professionally, or respectfully and you might hear back. That’s worked in my favor a lot of the time. It’s a long answer to you, Jason but that’s the way that we do it. We do that by leading by example. We do that by stating our boundaries. We do that by figuring out what our priorities are and working our way towards being a priority for other people.
I have some things that I feel I’m trying to do in the middle of my day to break through the midday slump. Part of this too is there’s inevitably a point in my day where I realized that I’ve had my face in a computer for hours and I haven’t gotten up. One of the things that I like to do is to time block during my workday to get up and nourish myself, whether that’s taking lunch, taking the dog for a walk, just going outside, and being in the fresh air. One of the things also is what I can take in the middle of my day to help me get over that hump and also remove myself from technology. I know that if I sit down and I work for five hours straight, I’m zombified.
My productivity goes down. We’re not worshipping at the altar of productivity. There’s a point I get to where I’m present that I’m getting things done but I’m not giving my all to it if that makes sense. For me, a big thing that I’m trying to do is be better about taking a midday break and using different things to nourish myself and recharge. We’ve talked about one of our favorite new supplements out there called Rellies where we have Ryan and Jake, who are the founders talked extensively about the benefits of terpenes and how great these products are.
In the middle of the day, two of their formulas that I take are there, their FOCUS, and also the JOY, especially if I’m grumpy. We’ve talked about how Jason gets grumpy in the middle of the day. The JOY and the FOCUS formulas are my midday ones. They also have a CALM, but I only do that at night as part of my sleep hygiene routine but my midday is with this FOCUS and the JOY because these have different terpenes in them. This one, JOY has limonene, which is supposed to be a mood balancer and an uplifter. This also has some others as well. I can’t read the label because my eyes are going maybe I need an eye test but they have a base of MCT oil, which is a tremendous carrier. MCT is awesome and Myrcene.
We can look it up and see what it does but it’s one of those great terpenes and there’s been a lot of research. Myrcene is basically one of the most aromatic ones. It’s also found in hops and is responsible for the peppery spicy fragrance in beer. They also find it in lemongrass. It promotes calming effects and uplifting effects in the body. There’s some cool research. We’ll link to an article on limonene and on myrcene if you are research geeks like us.
Myrcene is also dominant in many cannabis plants, different herbs, and different spices. It’s cool. It also makes things taste great. We mentioned that one of the reasons we like Rellies is, not only do we feel that mood upliftment but they also taste awesome. There are lemon grassy tropical notes in these that we love. I still have yet to incorporate these into my mixology Whitney. I’m not quite the mixologist you are but I do have some beverages here that I want to drop into probably after the show and see how they taste.
For you, dear reader, if you’ve been reading our episode and reading us wax poetic about our love for Rellies and how we want to make sweet love to these products, you too can make sweet love to these products and order them for yourself. We have a special coupon code for you to get their terpene blends of FOCUS, JOY, and of CALM to help you through your day, your mood, sleep, and upliftment. That website is Podcast.Wellevatr.com/rellies. When you go to that special landing page, use the code 20WELLIES.
We recommend you try these out because they are affordable and they’re mild. They’re not going to hit you with a CBD product or a THC product sometimes does. If you’re a sensitive person, and you are open to the effects of things like flower remedies like rescue remedies and things like that, we think that your body will also respond well to these terpenes. We’re giving Rellies a shout out. We love you all. We love your products. Whitney and I are huge fans. We recommend you check it out and use the code 20WELLIES to save 20% on your order.
What I also wanted to bring up Whitney too was this idea of us using passive technology in our lives to combating invasive technologies. This is a fascinating trend that I’ve observed because our buddy Adam introduced us to something called The Light Phone, which is a category of phones that they’re calling dumbphones. There’s no social media, apps, notifications, maps, and music. All these phones can do, which is not a new idea at all, is basically send texts and make phone calls. There’s no FaceTime, no video chat, and there’s nothing. I’ve also noticed that in my notifications on Instagram and Facebook, the ads I get with are all about these passive technologies to combat invasive technologies.
There was another one that said, “Are you using your phone as an alarm? Here’s this Zen alarm clock.” The tones and the alarms on this alarm clock were supposed to wake you up more naturally and more gently. Their whole pitch though was to buy this Zen eco alarm clock so you’re not using your smartphone next to your bed as an alarm clock. I think it’s interesting that there’s this whole category of technology that’s being implemented and positioned marketing-wise to combat other technologies. My concern sometimes as much as, “I want to get my Light Phone and I want to get my Zen alarm clock,” is that my house is going to be filled with gadgets and tech to try and fight off other gadgets in tech.
I’m curious because you’re much more of an early adopter than I am. You’ve got your great new Apple headphones and you have an electric car. You’re typically a year or more ahead of the curve than I am on adopting certain things. How do you feel about this wave of tech that’s marketed and created to combat other tech? Does that interest you? Do you feel like it’s going to be gadget overload? As an early adopter? How do you feel about all that? Are you interested in buying some of those things?
I’ve been examining my relationship to tech in a lot of different ways as a result of reading Digital Minimalism and doing the unplugging, and also reflecting on my relationship to productivity and efficiency. One of the reasons that I enjoy tech is because it helps me feel more efficient. I was reflecting on this a lot because, for example, I love to take notes on things. This is why I prefer digital books. I love to highlight books. I’ve been highlighting books for as long as I can remember. What’s interesting about that is apparently my grandfather did the same thing.When you buy a piece of tech, be clear as to whether it’s actually useful of you’re just feeling the pressure to have the cool new thing. Click To Tweet
After my grandfather passed away, I took some of the books that he had and when I opened them up, he had very similar marks in his book as I do. I was like, “Maybe there’s some genetic thing that’s been passed down to me about loving to take notes in books.” Over time, A, I didn’t want to write in a book because I thought if I give it to somebody else, they don’t necessarily want my notes unless it’s a grandchild or something that loves the memory of it. B, it’s much more efficient to highlight digitally because now I have a whole catalog of all my book notes in my Amazon Kindle library for however long that lasts. That feels more efficient. I can copy and paste a quote. Writing notes on my phone on the Notes app or on my computer’s Notes app is more efficient than writing them in a journal.
I wrote in my journal because I wasn’t on devices and now I have to manually go type those notes into my computer if I want to use them again. A lot of technology usage, for me, is about efficiency but there’s also a joy that I feel in technology. You brought up my apple AirPods Max, which I have the big ear headphones. They are more efficient because the battery lasts longer and we enjoy having devices that stay on longer. When I’m using headphones, I don’t want to have to worry about the battery dying. It’s a pain in the butt. Another element of technology is that it solves a pain point. That was one of the reasons I got these. I also love the design.
I align a lot with Apple as a brand. I used to work for the company so I was deeply ingrained into it but they’ve appealed to me because Apple is about high-quality products, beautiful design, creativity, and they also are rooted in their why. In the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek, he uses an example of Apple and how Apple’s bent about their why and thus, their marketing is different than other companies. A lot of people are drawn to Apple as a company because it aligns with their desire to be different. There are so many reasons that I make the decisions that I do when it comes to technology.
It’s the same thing with Tesla. I wasn’t that into Tesla. I remember you being super into it, Jason. I barely even knew about the Model 3 car until I got it and now that I have one it’s like, “This is the best car in the world but it’s so tech related.” I was thinking about this too because I had to go charge my car. When I went to get my car from the charge station, I was thinking, “I’m using my iPhone to use my car.” That’s how Tesla can work. You have a key but you also can set it up through an app so you walk up to your car and you get in the car and you start the car with your phone. Everything’s connected.
That is cool, efficient, and mentally stimulating but is that mental stimulation necessary? Is that helping me or hindering me? It’s saving me time. It prevents me from the pain point of losing my keys. I don’t have to carry keys with me because I have my phone. There’s a lot of perks. Tesla has done a lot from the environmental standpoint. It’s not perfect, but there’s a lot of environmental benefits to that car and the company.
A long winded answer, Jason, I’m certainly examining my relationship with technology and trying to be intentional and aware of it. There’s a status that comes along with technology. Certainly, when you buy more expensive things, there’s the status side of it. That’s for better or for worse. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about having a Tesla because I’m worried that someone’s going to judge me and think something about my finances without knowing.
It’s the same thing with these headphones. The big thing about the Apple headphones is that they’re expensive. It’s like, “Do I have to justify to people why I have bought these headphones and how I had the money to do it?” Stuff like that comes along with technology too so it’s a complicated thing. Going back to your question about, “Are these gadgets a good or bad thing?” That ties into my answer because as an early adopter, I get excited about new technology but I’m trying to be more mindful and there is a level. Before the early adopter is a group called The Innovators.
According to the first article I picked up, which is on OU.edu and this an old school website, which is funny to look at when we’re talking about technology. It talks about the Innovation Theory. That’s the curve. It’s an old school website on here. “The innovators are the first 2.5% of a group to adopt a new idea. The next 13.5% to adopt an innovation are labeled as early adopters. The early majority, the late majority, and the laggards. Innovators are eager to try new ideas to the point where their venturesome almost become an obsession.
Their interest in new ideas leads them out of a local circle of peers and into social relationships more cosmopolite than normal. Usually, innovators have substantial financial resources and the ability to understand and apply complex technical knowledge. The early adopters,” which I consider myself to be, “Are in the greater degree of opinion leadership. They provide advice and information sought by other adopters about innovation. They’re usually respected by his or her peers and have a reputation for successful and discreet use of new ideas.” That’s a big differentiation.
For example, the AirPods came out. I didn’t buy them the day they came out but that’s something that an innovator would do. I didn’t buy a Tesla right away. I waited and saved up my money. I waited for the model that felt more financially achievable for me. There were people that bought the Tesla as soon as they possibly could and still do. That’s a big difference. A lot of that depends on your financial resources but you’re willing to take risks.
Ultimately, what also puts me into that early adopter category is that I step back and I wait to see if it makes sense because awareness and mindfulness are important. When it comes to these new pieces of technology, I want to make sure that it makes sense for me and that it’s something that I’m being intentional about. One thing that reminds me of is that phone that you were thinking of getting, Jason. What’s it called?
I’m curious how you’re feeling about that because that was something I was reflecting on. Also, going back to you, feeling like you’re having trouble resisting temptation. I don’t find it that hard not to use my phone if I put it out of visual sight. I’ve mentioned on the podcast that I have a lockbox. I put my phone on the lockbox when I go to bed. I put it in there at sundown and I didn’t touch it. It was out of sight. It was in a locked setting and that makes it easy. If it’s turned off or on airplane mode, I don’t feel that tempted to use it. I might think about it but it’s not hard. That’s similar to any addiction. If you have a drug addiction or food addiction, yes, getting things out of visual sight is helpful. You might need to lock it away or flush it down the toilet or have somebody else put it away for you because you can’t resist it. I’m curious if you feel that way, Jason.
Also, what is your feeling about getting something like The Light Phone and other gadgets? I’m curious, where do you fall on this curve? I would think you’re an early majority person. I can read you that description right here if you want to see if you fit into that. Members of the early majority will adopt new ideas just before the average member of a social system. They frequently interact with peers but are not often found holding leadership positions. Their innovation-decision time is relatively longer than innovators and early adopters since they deliberate some time before completely adopting a new idea. After that is the late majority, they’re a skeptical group. I feel like you fall on the late majority. You need more strong pressure from peers to adopt. They’re cautious about innovations and reluctant to adopt until most others in their social systems do so first.
I’m probably somewhere a blend in between those two categories. To me, I’ve observed myself feeling drawn toward wanting to be like the cool kids, so to speak. “Everyone’s got an Apple Watch. They’ve got the headphones. They’ve got an electric car. They’ve got this cool thing.” I remember when Google Glass came out. Now everyone’s got Oculus and doing VR. There’s that part of it, which is looking at the cool stuff your friends and peer group have and going, “Am I missing out?”
I fall deeper into that early majority category or maybe even a little bit later than that. One of the reasons that I deliberate longer is because I’m asking myself, “My motivation to get this thing, is it pure desire and emotional magnetism toward the thing? Is it going to be useful?” You used the word efficient, Whitney. I use the word useful because to me, it feels a little broad in the sense that, “How is this going to affect my life?” That’s what I try and ask myself and predict an answer to that question. It’s like, “If I switch from a gasoline car to an electric car, which I do endeavor to do, how many actual miles per charge do I need? What am I going to be doing with this? Where am I taking the car? Does my usage of it justify the monthly payment and the insurance and the things that I’ll be doing?” What is the usefulness factor versus the time and financial cost of what it takes to purchase and maintain the thing? I do deliberate a lot longer on most technology purchases because I want to be clear about, “Is it useful or am I feeling the pressure to have the cool, new thing?”
To your point and your question about getting something like The Light Phone, I don’t know that I want two phones. On one hand, getting a piece of passive technology that’s designed to combat a more invasive technology like a smartphone, then I have the $300 for the second phone and then I’m paying a second monthly plan. I have this other device, this other object, that I’m responsible for and that I also need to pay to maintain. It’s like, “Is that useful?” Is it going to be useful for me to issue and overcome the temptation of using the apps and social media devices on my smartphone versus buying this secondary device that has none of those things and having it as my bat phone where only a handful of people know that number? If I’m not reachable on my iPhone, they know to go to my second phone. I then have two different things to maintain. It’s a question of usefulness and it’s a question of how is this going to affect my life?
Ultimately, to me, it’s a deeper inquiry of the actual pragmatic usefulness of a thing but also not discounting the amount of human desire that goes into things. As an example, if you wanted an electric car, you could’ve purchased it. You had a Fiat before this. You could have gotten a LEAF, Bolt, or a Volt. There’s a lot of other choices. There’s an emotional pull. There’s a magnetism to the reason you bought a Tesla. It was an emotional choice for you. You’ve talked about your emotional connection to this vehicle. With the adoption of technology, I’m always looking at a deeper level of inquiry of, “How am I going to use this? Is it going to be useful? What’s my actual level of emotional attachment or human desire gravitating toward this thing?” For me, it’s a balancing act. That’s one of the reasons I take a lot longer to deliberate before making a purchase and bringing new technology into my life.
It’s a complex thing. We have so much access. Our resources as human beings are high for many of us. If we have the financial resources, the possibilities are endless. Reflecting on human history, the basic needs we have, food, water, shelter, are well taken care of for the great majority of people. Statistically, I don’t know how many people don’t have access to basic human needs. It certainly seems like that’s been taken care of for many people on this planet.
We also have the element of privilege and all this. It’s incredibly important to talk about technology from a couple of different sides. One, it’s a privilege to have technology. Having gratitude for what you own and not taking it lightly is incredibly important. The Tesla, I don’t take it for granted. It is a huge financial investment for me. I don’t take for granted the fact that I made it happen. I was able to make it happen through the work that I do and for the fact that I don’t have a lot of expenses. Part of the reason that I decided to get the car is I don’t have a mortgage, children, and a massive debt. I had the privilege of having the financial resources not just coming in but going out to make that car happen.
Once I got the car, I made a conscious effort to appreciate it every time I used it. Sometimes my awareness of that is higher than others. I would say, the great majority of the time that I’m even near that car, I feel in complete awe of it. Going back to the emotional side of it, I recognize the privilege of that car. The same thing with other technology. I remember when I was growing up, I wanted my own computer badly. When I got one, it was exciting. When I went to film school, Apple computers were the thing that creative people used. The things that you could do on an Apple computer was everything I wanted to do. When I got the opportunity to buy my first Apple computer, it was a huge deal for me. I remember what it was like to not have it and the work that it took for me to make that happen. Those things are important.
We also have to take into consideration our privilege in terms of people that don’t have access to those things and don’t have the same resources as us. Also, some people use technology for very important and different reasons than us. An important element of this conversation is to remember to be mindful of how we judge others for using technology because we don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. There are mental health issues on both sides. There are mental health issues if you overuse technology but you might be using technology to aid you in your mental health. That is a person-by-person basis.
Technology connects us to one another. Technology helps us find information. It’s a privilege to even use it because some people are disabled, they can’t see, hear, or use their fingers to type. There are many different relationships to technology that I would love to explore more. Remember that what works and doesn’t work for us is not the same for others. I want to make sure that’s mentioned here, the inclusivity side, the privilege side and even that curve that I was talking about, the early adopter innovator mentality of when and why people buy things or do things or use things is not universal. I would love to bring somebody onto the show that can talk more about different sides of this. That would be a guest I would like to seek out for this. In general, it’s important for us to reduce the amount of time we spend judging.
One final thing I’d love to touch upon that I reflect on a lot as I become more aware of my tech usage, my awareness about how other people use technology is heightened. Over the years, when I’ve been striving to use my phone less, I noticed how other people use their devices. I tend to get judgmental because it triggers me. There are two levels. When I see somebody else doing something, I naturally want to do it too. That’s human psychology. When you’re around other people that are engaging in a habit that you’re trying to break, it’s hard to not do that habit yourself. If I’m with somebody and they’re on their phone, it’s a cue to me, “I should take out my phone.”
I’ve asked some people in my life, including you, Jason like, “Would you mind using your phone less?” Sometimes people are okay and understanding. Sometimes they’re not. My sister, for example, hates it when I ask her not to use her phone. She perceives it as me being controlling. She doesn’t understand why I’m asking her. Partially, we’re sisters and she is reluctant to do anything that I recommend unless she asks me for my advice. There’s that thing where if they see you using your phone and then you put your phone down and ask them not to use it, they’re like, “You were using your phone.” It becomes this whole debate. People think that you’re hypocritical or something. That’s something I’m fascinated by.
I noticed this a lot on road trips, for example. One of the reasons I love driving myself on road trips is that I’m focused on driving. I’m not using devices unless you count my car as a device. On my last cross-country adventure, I couldn’t believe how little I used my devices. I brought my iPad, my computer, my phone with me. I barely used them because I was trying to drive. When I was done driving, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. It was like, “This is great. I’m focused on my basic needs. I’m not on my device all the time.” I wanted to take a ton of pictures. I would notice myself picking up my phone to take pictures. It was fascinating because you’re trying to capture things around you versus living in the moment. Hopefully, on my road trips for 2021, I’ll have a different relationship to the experience.
The other thing I’ve noticed on road trips and I’ve taken a lot in my life is that if I’m driving and the person in the passenger seat is on their phone, it drives me crazy. It feels like I’m missing out. I’m envious of them. It’s like, “You get to use your phone. I wish I could use my phone.” It’s distracting as a driver because you can see in your peripheral vision someone on their phone. Your brain is firing away, “They’re on their phone. What are they doing?” There’s that side of being present. Here you are driving along and feeling present to the drive and the environment. You’re seeing all these things. You’re taking in the world and someone next to you is immersed in their technology. It feels like such a contrast that I tend to notice it. I was thinking, “This is a reason why I enjoy doing road trips on my own.” I don’t have to worry about somebody else unless I can travel with somebody that’s mindful about their tech usage. I don’t know if I want to do it again.
I love that you admitted that, first of all. It is interesting to choose, in situations where everyone’s using tech, to not do so. To piggyback quickly on what you said, an example that I have every single week is when I go to physical therapy. I drive from Los Angeles to see my doctor in Costa Mesa. It’s a 45-minute drive. The way that they have the doctor’s office set up is they have multiple treatment tables for physical therapy. There are stations. You’ll see people getting nodes and electrodes and machines to decrease inflammation. They’re lying on their back. They’re lying on their stomach. They’re on a machine. There are people in different stations in the doctor’s office doing their therapy.
When they’re receiving passive treatments, they’re laying down on a massage table and getting one of the machines. Every single time I walk into the room, everybody’s on their phone. They’re getting 20, 30-minute treatment, they’re lying on their back and they have their hands extended in front of their head. Their arms are extended outward for 20, 30 minutes just on their phone. I remember having a conscious thought when I looked around and looked at every single person on their phone during treatment. I said, “I don’t want to do that.”
When I lay down and I get my treatment, my whole physical therapy session is about 90 minutes, I don’t pick up my phone once. When I lay down and I get my treatment, I’m either staring at the ceiling for 20 to 30 minutes and letting my thoughts do what they do or I close my eyes. It was interesting at first to observe myself thinking, “You’re staring at a ceiling. That’s weird.” The other part of me was like, “That’s not weird because before we had these things, that’s what people did. They went to therapy and sat there.” What it’s done though has allowed me to pay attention to nuances of how my body is responding to the treatments, how the muscles feel. I can feel, “Maybe that’s a little too intense and we need to dial it down. Maybe that’s not enough.” As a result of not being on my phone during the 90 minutes of treatment, I’m able to tune into my body more.
To your point, it is fascinating to observe a roomful of people getting treatments and everyone’s got their phones in front of their faces. I feel like maybe it’s allowing my body to heal in a different way because I am more present in the healing process. It is interesting to be the outlier. Now that everyone has mass adoption of technology, to be in a social setting where you’re the only one not using it is a fascinating scenario to put oneself in.
I endeavored to put myself in more of those scenarios. When we go back to conferences, trade shows, concerts, social gatherings, which, fingers-crossed that will come sooner than later, I want to make a conscious effort to not be on my fucking phone to be with people. That’s something I’m saying publicly that I want to start practicing at home so that when we are out in these larger gatherings, I’m with people. I’m looking them in the eye. I’m connecting with them. Also, if I sense that they’re checked out, bringing it to their attention and asking, “Would you mind putting your phone away so we could have a deeper connection now?” Making that request to people, I endeavor to do that.
This conversation has led me to this desire of like, “When the world ‘opens’ back up, I don’t want to have my face in a device.” I want to be with human beings and deeply connect with them. That’s my intention. When we are at trade shows or events together, Whitney, if you’re also on board for this way of being to remind each other because I’m sure there will be moments where I’m sucked in. I’m like, “That’s not what you want. You want to be with human beings. You want to be with them.” I want to be better at that and also make a request that you also help hold me accountable for that.
With that being said, dear readers, we’d also love to learn from you about how your relationship with technology is going. Are you feeling enslaved to it? Are you feeling caged by it? Do you feel like it’s a sense of connection, liberation, and a tool that is helping you in your life? It’s a complicated thing for most people. We always love to hear your opinion on the topical matter of our episodes here on the show. You can shoot Whitney and me an email at [email protected].
If you want to get our special offer, we have our Rellies discount. You can go to Podcast.Wellevatr.com/rellies and use the coupon code 20WELLIES. We want you to try these great new terpenes and see how you feel about them. With that, we look forward to hearing from you and getting more feedback. Any requests that you have for a subject matter you would like us to research and cover on future episodes, we’re always open to those suggestions.
Until next time. Dear reader, thanks for getting uncomfortable with us. We appreciate your love, your reviews, your listenership, and all of your shares on social media. We’ve been getting a lot of new people tuning in. It’s always a delight to receive not only your emails but people shouting us out on places like Instagram and Facebook and sharing your listenership and your favorite episodes that always tickles us pink. Until next time. We love you. We appreciate you. Thanks for the support. We’ll be back with another episode of This Might Get Uncomfortable soon. Thanks so much!
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