Two weeks ago, I removed all the social apps from my iPhone.
This meant deleting my favorite, even if troll-infested, social platform, Twitter. I also removed Facebook, a primary source of negativity and divisiveness for many, especially around politics and cultural issues. Instagram, the perfectly manicured version of life, and also the polar opposite of Facebook in that its content is far more positive. I also deleted LinkedIn and YouTube. I would have deleted Snapchat, but it never made sense to me, even when the social crowd make-believed it was a B2B platform.
All of the apps I deleted now reside on my backup iPhone. That phone lives in the very back of the bag I carry, and I have never had cause to use it. As it turns out, I still don’t.
The first day without social apps, I found myself picking up the phone without reason. There were no notifications other than text messages from my children and updates about my flights. I must have picked up the phone a half a dozen times, each time being reminded there was nothing there for me.
The second day, I picked up the second phone again. Because I had powered down the phone, I had to wait for it to boot up before I could look at the social apps. By the time the apps launched, the moment had passed. I shut the phone down, and was forced to start the process over again when I went to update the social apps later in the day.
The third day, I never took the backup iPhone out of bag at all. Nor did I take it out to look at the social apps on the fourth day or the fifth day. On the sixth day, I went to my main phone to look at social sites and remembered I deleted them. When I picked up the backup phone, it was dead. I had thought I turned it off, but I must have turned it on when I placed it in my bag.
And by then, I was cured. I no longer reach for my phone, as there is little reason to do so. The social app phone is still in my bag, and it now has no power over me. On Saturday night, I had dinner with one of my friends from law school and his lovely spouse, and the only time I looked at the phone was to update the table on the score of the football game. Other than that, no one touched their phones.
It took almost no time at all for the small screen of infinite distractions to lose any power it held over my behavior. As quickly as you can become its slave, in that same time, you can liberate yourself from its grasp.
Right now, the phone with the social app is across the room in the back of a bag where it now resides.
As a side note, I also deleted my email. But being stuck on a tarmac for 90 minutes, I found it valuable to be able to scan and delete in moments when there is little else to do. The mail application is reinstalled.