Slightly unplugged

My attention span, just like yours, has suffered for the past 10 years.

push notificationsSocial media, text messages, web sites, email, and news apps send me push notifications constantly. Morning, noon, and night the little screen lights up and notifies me that something in my endlessly growing circle of interest has changed or needs attention for some (generally inane) reason.

“Share these photos with xyz!”, “See your memories from years past!”, “We’ve got photos of the royal baby!”, “Someone you don’t know started following your posts!”

And I respond with the same mindless zombie-like click and fingerprint ID every time.  Sometimes right in the middle of a work meeting, or conversation with my wife or friends, often in the men’s room (where it’s actually welcome).

So I tried an experiment with the loudest of the apps.  I deleted the Facebook and Facebook messenger apps from my phone.  I still have an account, and I can log in anytime I like using a web browser, but the apps and push notifications are gone.

First, I’m impressed how much my screen doesn’t light up now.  Those Facebook apps sent an overwhelming number of push notifications, and now that they’re gone, I’m starting to notice just how noisy other apps are.  In fact, I’m watching my phone for an entirely new reason now, just to see who’s trying the hardest to get me to interact with their app.  So far, Instagram (also a Facebook company, by the way) is in the lead by a small margin, but the overall noise has lessened so substantially it’s shocking.

I’m going to give this another week or two and make a decision on the remaining apps.  I hate to judge an app solely on it’s number of push notifications, but it seems to be the most prudent measuring stick for me, so far.