How to build a life with no screens / internet

You know the feeling when you go camping without any technology and after a day or two your mind feels completely clear? I'm convinced that our parents were right and the internet and screens are extremely bad for us - I personally notice that the later in the day I wait to check my phone (e.g. one week I didn't look at it until 6 pm and I thought in my head exactly what I would look at before I picked it up - "I will check my texts, calls, and email, and nothing else"), the more clear my thinking is. They've done tons of studies that say just having your phone in the same room as you makes your focus worse. The smartest engineers in the world spend all day trying to build products that keep your attention longer, and obviously those incentives don't align with those of the end users.

Assuming you accept that premise, how could I in 2021 construct my life so that I can throw my phone into the ocean and continue to exist?
 

  • I am willing to own a flip phone for calls/texts

  • I really don't wan't to, but I if I absolutely have to concede to owning a basic laptop for essential things like bank accounts and access to my Vanguard account, I won't pay for wifi so I can't access the internet unless I deliberately drive to a Starbucks for a specific purpose - maybe I'll even have a rule that I can't go to the same Starbucks more than once

What job could I have that would allow this?

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Comments (28)

Aug 11, 2021 - 8:07am

i mean any blue collar job for the most part. but the price you pay for that is your body. Not bad when you're young, but doing manual labor well into your 40s and 50s will have a toll on you back, knees, etc.

on the other hand, if you're at the top of the food chain in the corporate world, your day is spend with meetings and you arent grinding away at a deck or model. so arguably less time spend in front of the screen but more on the phone / email.

Go all the way

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Aug 12, 2021 - 1:44am

HVAC technician would be a blue collar option without body strain.  

Aug 11, 2021 - 9:35am

More practically, you could use the computers in the local library, which obviously also has a great collection of reading material, something I've rediscovered in the rona last year.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 11, 2021 - 12:59pm

Yeah, I think the public computer at the library is a better idea tbh. I also wouldn't have a facebook account or any social media. I only have instagram right now (not installed on my phone but I have an account) because college girls automatically think you're wack if you don't have one.

Lockbox is interesting, but I would like to have the ability to call/text, which is why I think flipphones are interesting. There's also this:

https://www.thelightphone.com/

which I think is pretty fucking cool since it links to your real phone. That way, I could still have my real phone, maybe throw it in a lockbox for 12 hours every morning, but still have call/text access on the same number. And I could only bring the nerfed one when I go out so I'm not going on my phone when I should be in the moment.

Aug 11, 2021 - 1:50pm

Lol just turn your phone into greyscale or buy a Vertu. I find myself works well with or without screens. The only thing I do think is that when you said like above not using screens or near your phone I think it's just like those refresh thing where as if you type for 10000 words straight instead of going out for a break and come back. You are going to feel and is much better at typing your doc than before. I don't believe cutting out screens is necessary. But I do believe that you need like to know how to control your addiction

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 11, 2021 - 2:20pm

Grayscale is great, I agree, have used in the past -- only issue is my calendar is color coded for priority

Aug 11, 2021 - 2:26pm

I just went camping for 5 days and it's great to get away from everything once in a while, but I like my screen time and even train on my indoor cycling trainer with a big screen so in general have a lot of daily screen time. Yesterday I burned 5000 calories through 103mi on the trainer and it was an amazing experience. Then swam 2.1 miles this morning and the break from screen time was good, but I like my music and electronics too so listened to music the whole time on my Aftershokz bone conduction swimming headphones.

I just started heavy training for a triathlon next month and will probably spend a lot of screen time on the cycling trainer, but I don't feel it strains my eyes as much as being on Excel for hours on end.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 11, 2021 - 2:55pm

What type of job do you have? I know you're in the south, so I assume not banking -- how do you have time to bike 103 miles on a Tuesday?

Aug 11, 2021 - 3:04pm

What type of job do you have? I know you're in the south, so I assume not banking -- how do you have time to bike 103 miles on a Tuesday?

I basically help out my family with caregiving and more or less have responsibilities, but spend about 25 - 30hrs per week with that. I sleep a lot too for recovery so I don't have a whole lot of free time in general when I'm training heavy. But, I have a triathlon race (70.3 Augusta) on 9/26/21 and am cutting weight for it over 5 weeks so plan to train very hard until about a week before the race.

I am considering going back into corporate finance and if I get accepted where I'm applying, my schedule will probably be 6am - 2:45pm work and then would train at 3:30pm for a couple hours and then sleep early. 

Having an indoor bike trainer as well as a pool where I live cuts out a lot of time that would be spent commuting and endurance sports are very time consuming.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Aug 11, 2021 - 3:38pm

That's cool. Are you professionally competitive or are you just into extreme fitness? How long have you been out of a corporate job?

I'm not competitive professionally, I just race for recreation, but have completed 5 Half Ironmans (70.3) and one full Ironman (140.6) at altitude in Boulder, CO. I just try to stay in shape now to be physically and mentally fit.

I left the corporate world for the most part in 2010. I didn't want to have a manager anymore at that point and wanted my own free time and a chance at making it as an entrepreneur. I was not financially successful as an entrepreneur for the most part, but the lessons learned in trying to bring a business and products to the market taught me a lot. Currently I am financially secure so have the freedom to do what I want professionally. I can be picky currently in going back to the corporate world and know what it means to be tied down to a company, especially one that makes you go into an office. Also, this company does random drug tests so I would have to be clean from 420, which is a major sacrifice for me. I've been clean for 40 days or so from THC and now that I'm training for this triathlon soon, I really have to come off alcohol to get race lean. Saturday was my last big day drinking with friends and Sunday I completed a 2hr intensity session on the indoor trainer at 171bpm avg HR which was a huge effort for me. I haven't had the training bug/motivation in a while, but finally coming back onto it to show up somewhat prepared for this triathlon.

Cheers -

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Aug 11, 2021 - 5:28pm

former cellphone addict here. I did a couple of things that worked for me because I don't believe it's possible to have a job in the modern world without some connection to technology. you can become a buddhist monk but I still like my UFC, HBO, surfline, online banking, and tracking my workout stats, etc.

DND from 7p-7a

no social media apps. I'm not 100% off but I'm 99.99999% off, I have no profile on any of the services where people can find me, I have a twitter and I follow one person (my favorite author who's only on twitter but I only use it on desktop)

favor phone calls instead of text back and forth where possible

read books instead of mindless drivel online, always have unfinished books to read so you don't wonder what's going on online

have a separate phone for work that I leave on another floor of the house away from everything

don't give a fuck about other people's perceptions of you

leave your phone behind when going places like restaurants, bars, takeout, errands

Aug 11, 2021 - 7:17pm

thebrofessor

you can become a buddhist monk but I still like my UFC, HBO, surfline, online banking, and tracking my workout stats, etc.

Wonder what the next iteration of small-sized personal computing will be (like how the iPhone revolutionized a lot), but it would be interesting to have some kind of tech that you can cut out a lot of bullshit like social media. Admittedly, you could just delete all that from your phone, and maybe something like the could be an answer, but it would be great to have something where you can look up just enough, but then it's easy to cut off and go back to what you're doing. Psychologically having your phone in view increases your chance of checking it, even if you don't receive a notification, so something that would limit that would be really helpful.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Aug 11, 2021 - 8:40pm

It is actually very easy to do.  I have been doing it for years.

--Drop all social media except business related activities

-- Limit the number of non business webpages you visit (I have 5 or 6.  Thats it.)

-- Turn off all notifications except text/email.

--Only go on the internet before 8am or after 7 pm and only after you workout / play with kids / coach softball , etc.

--Buy books.  Read them.

-- Allow 30 minutes during lunch to surf.

-- You now have more time to empty your inbox.  EVERY DAY.  It causes anxiety.  More than you think. (I get about 100 to 150 per day).

-- If you can during you lunch, learn something new every day online (today for me was NIPSCO tariffs).

-- "Time is a predator, stopping at the watering holes too often will get you killed"

-- Wasting time online is an addiction, some say worse than drugs or alcohol.  The world is not going to stop spinning if you dont go online (non business obviously).  It wont miss you at all.

Namaste.

D.O.U.G.

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Aug 11, 2021 - 8:40pm

Screens are terrible for us and humans were not built to be staring at them all day. Depression and anxiety are up astronomically in the youngest generations as they've grown up with social media and screens in their face since they were born. The attention span on your average millenial/Gen-Z/whatever the fuck is non-existent because they can't stop staring at their screens. I read a study that 1 in 4 people below the age of 25 don't have a single friend. At first, that shocked me, but the more I thought about ti, the less surprised I was. I attribute that to the ability to "escape" through the phone and the fact that none of these people developed social skills as a result. I've cut out screens as much as I can in my life. Now working on a computer screen is a necessary evil and I've accepted that. It may be bad for me, but I'm sure as hell not going to go work some menial job and not get rich so I've accepted it. Here's what I recommend to everyone do - break your addiction.

1) I met a guy a few weekends back who spent almost 8 hours a day on his phone with screen time. I couldn't believe it. When I asked him why he didn't stop, he claimed he couldn't. I even said to him "after spending hours scrolling through tik tok or instagram, do you even feel better or do you just feel like it was boring and waste of time as soon as you close it?". He agreed he didn't enjoy it, but didn't want to stop. For the rest of you, recognize that it isn't making your life better. Think about how you felt when you log off. Do you even feel better? I can guarantee you don't. I deleted reddit/wso/instagram off my phone and haven't looked back. Instagram is a great way to keep up with people who live far away, so I will check it when I get home from work on my perusal laptop. That's it. Don't download tik tok, don't download reddit. They aren't helpful and aren't conducive to a productive lifestyle. Do you think someone making high six-figures in finance is checking TikTok 20 times a day? Of course they aren't. 

2) Put you phone on gray-scale. This should be your first step. The phone and its bright colors are designed to get you stare at it as long as you can. Put on gray-scale and hold yourself to not changing it. I have friends who tried it because they agreed with me, but they quit after a few days. Don't give in. 

3) Think of your phone as a communication device and nothing more. Steve Jobs originally thought the iPhone was going to be a iPod that could make phone calls. His intention was never to create something that people would be hopelessly addicted to and check on average 100 times a day. Don't have any apps on there.The only exception should be taking a picture, using maps, checking the weather, or playing music at the gym (I don't have put AirPods on when I'm walking down the street or on the subway anymore as I think it takes me out of reality). If you really feel you must have apps, then put a time limit on it and actually hold yourself to it. Just about everyone I know has a time limit, and every single one of those people just ignore it the second it comes up. 

You all can do it. 

Aug 11, 2021 - 9:37pm

Don't download tik tok, don't download reddit. They aren't helpful and aren't conducive to a productive lifestyle. Do you think someone making high six-figures in finance is checking TikTok 20 times a day? Of course they aren't. 

People who drink socially have a higher average income than teetotalers.  I'd argue the same thing might be true for popular social media apps, everyone uses them and there's a social cost of not doing it.  FYI I don't have fb or insta and I don't drink

Aug 11, 2021 - 10:04pm

Gonna take the unpopular side of the discussion and say what's wrong with smartphones? 

All the hipsters love their old paperback books but really you can find pretty much anything on the internet, I've learned a little bit about pretty much everything from Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica over the years.  Everyone also loves to hate on social media, but unless you're ruining quality time with family, friends, significant other to sit on your phone, it's fine to spend your down time on it.  I don't really use fb or instagram but I can see the appeal.

Aug 13, 2021 - 9:16am

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I'm from Europe 

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