More fun, less phone

 

Last updated 12/22/2021 at Noon



Struggling with tech use—phones, tablets, devices, gaming, computers? You are not alone.

Holiday tech Especially during COVID times, many people are lonely during the holidays. The Nugget asked Catherine Price, author of the books “The Power of Fun” and “How to Break Up with Your Phone,” what does appropriate use of technology look like for those folks? Should they just Zoom their hearts out? “Oh, I think we’ve already Zoomed our hearts out!” she responded. “More seriously, I think we need to seek out and prioritize real human connection whatever way we can. I say real human connection to distinguish it from the hollow ‘connection’ we find on social media.”

Price continued, “In-person is best when it’s safe and possible — get a heavy coat, go outside! — but when that’s not an option then it’s a great idea to use technology to connect.” She suggests that people start by asking themselves what form of technological connection makes them feel the most nourished. Is it video calls? “Then go ahead and Zoom.

“Do you truly love texting? Then text,” she said. “For me personally, phone calls without video are far and away the most enjoyable and rejuvenating to connect with people, so I prioritize them.”

More fun, more balance “If you add up the hours you spend each day interacting with your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or television, you may realize that you’re spending the majority of your waking life staring at a screen,” Price writes.

She offers many resources for people who want to have more zesty goodness in their lives, and for those who (not coincidentally) want to have a more balanced relationship with their devices and screens. You can order “The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again,” or take a quiz about your fun type at HowToHaveFun.com. See also “Holiday season can bring ‘True Fun,’” page 8.

Price’s website at http://www.ScreenLifeBalance.com offers newsletter signup for receiving inspiration and tips in your email box. Her 10-day, online Social Media Detox program aims to help people take control of their lives and their social media usage.

Books galore

Care to learn more about our increasingly weird, engineer-programmed relationship with technology? Use these old-fashioned communications devices to delve deeper. They’re called books, and they come without bells, whistles, or notifications to distract the reader.

•?“How to Break Up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price (Random House). A slender book full of practical, compassionate advice. Price is not out to eliminate technology but to help readers take control.

•?“24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week,” by Tiffany Shlain (Gallery Books). The concept isn’t too difficult: Turn off your devices one day per week. See if you can live without them. The book includes lots of information about why we should bother to try.

•?“Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” by Jaron Lanier (Henry Holt). Jaron Lanier is a Silicon Valley pioneer. She understands, from the inside out, how we’ve all been buffaloed by tech bros’ culture, politics, and ability to “highjack users’ brains.”

•?“Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World,” by Cal Newport (Portfolio/Penguin). Here a computer science professor tells us how to live in peaceful harmony with our tech, beginning with a 30-day “digital declutter.” Seems to be written by and for persons with smooth, controlled minds and a steady supply of willpower.

•?“Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self,” by Manoush Zomorodi (St. Martin’s Press). A popular radio personality investigates how our brains work and what technology is doing to them. Turns out boredom is good for us! Who knew?

•?“The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power,” by Shoshana Zuboff (Profile Books). This whopping doorstop is brilliant, scathing, overwhelming. Want to really-truly understand why you can’t put your phone down? It’s the business model developed by Google, Amazon, and others. Zuboff goes deep into its development.

•?“Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy,” by Siva Vaidhyanathan (Oxford University Press). A well researched condemnation of the Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp empire, a.k.a. Meta.

•?“Man, Interrupted: Why Young Men Are Struggling & What We Can Do About It,” (Conari Press) by Philip Zimbardo with Nikita Coulombe. This book came out a decade ago. Some of it sounds sexist, some of it dated. But in other respects, controversial Stanford researcher Zimbardo might have been ahead of his time. Particularly interesting is the connection between video games, porn, and young men’s increasing difficulties in life, work, and relationships.

“Team Human,” by Douglas Rushkoff (Norton). An impassioned tech-and-culture writer takes on corporations and cultural institutions, encouraging readers to find our true humanity and connect with each other.

 

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