July 18, 2023•456 words
You too have a digital toolbox. You might not call it that but you kinda sleepwalked into one, regardless.
Over the course of several years I started seeing every screen for what it was. A collection of stuff that did certain things for me and to me. Screens include phones, laptops, tablets, TVs, etc.
Take the most installed app on most phones: Facebook. You probably also started hating it a little but that is besides the point. It is a tool that helps you connect with friends, check out events around you, get some news or whatever else. It also does things to you: packages your profile data and sells it to advertisers, runs experiments to see if it can inflence your mood by the posts it shows you, helps topple governments. Okay, maybe not the last one. And they swear they're not doing the mood experiments anymore.
This is just one tool. Try to think about all the other ones. Each have their own unique brand of fangs. And I call it fangs because they both bite into you and can be used to chew nourishment.
Now take all of them. It's not just what one app does, it's also what all of them combined do as well. There are many things that you learn by doing this exercise. I'll just focus on one thing for now.
That thing is that there is a lot of overlap between them.
I get it, this might not be in your top priorities. For me it's one of the core pillars of trying to be very intentional about where I direct my focus. Even if I waste it on dumb things, I want to be intentional about it.
If I'm not doing dumb things such as following Twitter feuds, I want to have a select few tools to research, organize thoughts, take notes, write ideas, play around with LLMs and everything else piques my interest. Having everything either trying to grab my attention or nudging me to do things a certain way scatters my focus.
I don't need three note taking apps. One is enough.
I don't want my music app to push podcasts.
I don't need seven social media apps on my phone when only two actually provide me with value or joy. The rest I can use only when I actually need them for that one specific thing they do best.
Do I want to have Netflix on my phone, tablet, laptop and TV? You tell me.
I have not found digital Nirvana. I will probably never will.
But I'll continue to be mindful of what tools I add to my toolbox to keep it defanged and only help me chew.
I still get bitten sometimes.