Smartphones and silence

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone (Blaise Pascal)

I got my very first smartphone way later (years later) than my friends. I was pretty reluctant and didn't see the point. Then I changed my mind. A few years later, I changed my mind again and decided to spend less time on it.

Why and how

So, I get my first smartphone. Start tinkering with it. Loving it (still do). Fast forward a few months and it's became my primary device, which has its ups and downs.

On one hand and at the horror of my tech friends, I find it much more pleasant to use a phone than a PC (well, except for typing – especially with Simple Keyboard which doesn't have predictions). TMO explains why he feels the same in a post.

But I got sucked in and started spending way too much time on chat apps, reddit, etc., constantly bombarded with notifications (to the point that it became hard to read even just an article in one go), and making a crapton of mistakes.

Finally realizing this wasn't a good thing, a few months back I started weaning myself off of it, focusing on RSS, setting maximum use time, deleting Clover, etc.

This month I went a step further and bought:

I still use Spotify and read ebooks on my phone, just less.

I've also disabled much of my notification sources.

Finally, even though I use note apps for practical reasons and because I love (good) notes apps, I keep a journal using pen and paper (you can read my post about it here), a journal that nobody reads except me so I can tell it like it is. Blogs are great, they have their own benefits, but they should (in general, there are exceptions) be complementary to private journals. When you write publicly you polish things (more or less, it's a spectrum of course).

The result

I appreciate using my phone much more.

No more brain-melting non-stop scrolling.

I write better. I'm certainly no Hemingway (God bless pen & paper) but what I write is clearer (NB: this post is not a proof of it, you'll see why at the end).

More importantly, I know have space for silence. What I mean by that is that letting yourself being constantly stimulated (by anything really) is (I think) symptomatic of the refusal to stay alone in your room, quiet and without distractions, just you and your thoughts. There's certainly a reason for that beyond lazyness and habits but I still cannot pinpoint what it really is.

All in all, this kind of silence allows:

As a result I'm less dumb, I realize more things (especially things that were in front of me but that I've never seen before), I have a better sense of where I am and where I'm going, I think a bit less about myself and a bit more about people close to me, and I feel better overall.

To each his own. For those who can relate to this: if you want to give it a go, I'd suggest you pick what feels more natural to you (it can be journaling, walking, meditating, praying, sitting in your room or outside, journaling, etc.).

If you've been scrolling like a madman for years, the first days will maybe feel like a chore —> Small steps: I just suggested to a bud interested by journaling but who cannot do it yet to just write one sentence (or even one word) a day. That's what I did, and now it's my favorite part of the day.

Without silence I would have stayed a robot.

What's next?

I don't know, but I know I will know a little bit more than I usually do.

This very post

As a conclusion: I didn't prepare this post and wrote it just now in one go (proofread it and modified it, though), quite similarly to paper journaling (but still self-censoring – to look good and also because I'm convinced everyone should have an unviolable private garden – but I still realized a thing or two while typing, tho).

Looking at the result: it's messy and badly structured, but I'll leave it that way to give you an idea of what pen&paper journaling looks like (for me at least, but you get the idea).