Make Your Phone Unusable

It's like a juice cleanse for your phone.

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May 22 2015, 4:20pm


This is like a juice cleanse, but for your horrible, technology-addicted brain that compels you to open an app every time you start to feel feelings. "Oh I just won't look at my phone all weekend," the hell you won't look at your phone. You're probably looking at your phone right now. You dreamed about looking at your phone last night. And when you gazed into that abyss, the abyss also gazed back into you.

We rely on phones for things now, like navigation, so you can't just leave your phone at home they way you might once have done. That's like saying you will suddenly not eat for three days. That's a fast. You can do it, but it's painful and you could die (I'd die). For this cleanse, like a juice cleanse, the immediate result may be headaches and nonspecific anger. Also like a juice cleanse, its effects won't last, but you will feel disproportionately virtuous about it. It will also give you something to talk about with real people, instead of looking at your phone. You shouldn't do that, they will think you're a pious jerk, but it's something. I can guarantee it will be better than being on Twitter. I'm going to do it for Memorial Day weekend because I hate myself, and I hate looking at my phone even more!! Two birds.

The strat is, basically, make your phone un-intrusive and borderline unusable, but not so non-functional you either give up or avoid doing it. Probably not worth it to do this for anything shorter than a long weekend but do what you like.

  • At 5PM Friday, make a backup of your phone. (Protip: if you encrypt it, your app logins will be saved.)(Depending on your phone, I don't know what phone you have, just back it up.)

  • Get to your phone's home screen.

  • Go to settings and turn off all notifications. No, not that Do Not Disturb garbageDND means alerts will still pop when your phone is active. You have to go into settings (Notifications Center, on iOS) and turn off notifications individually for each application in order to not get any alerts, even when you are using your phone. Tedious, but necessary.

  • Put Google Maps on your home screen (you should be able to get places, go outside, it's the weekend), as well as a weather app of your choice (it might rain). Delete everything else from your home screen.* What you cannot delete, banish to a folder in a screen several pages over. This way you can still communicate with people if you absolutely mustfor instance, to locate them in a crowdbut you won't do it out of light boredom.

  • In settings, turn off Touch ID for everything and change your passcode to a longer, more complicated password; this means turning off "simple passcode" on iOS. This will make it a (comparatively) tremendous effort to even attempt an interaction with your phone.

  • Enjoy at least 3.5 days of alert- and content-free bliss.

When the weekend is over and you have to go back to work, re-enable notifications judiciously. Re-introduce apps to your home screen, also judiciously. Hopefully you enjoyed the break. You might like it so much you'd want to just leave it that way forever, sans the validation pellet feeders that are your apps, a simple portable maps and weather terminal, but eventually you'll develop new reflexesyou'll get faster at typing your complex password, and will learn to search for the apps you cannot see in front you. But mixing it up, drastically, should give you a few days of release.

*I bear no responsibility for any losses of data that may occur. Use your judgment.