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Getting Mindful About Technology

Remember back in the day when we’d use our phones to communicate? Set times to meet? Share news? Or even have a laugh?

Today’s feature-rich lifestyle hubs include everything from email to browsers to cameras to digital jukeboxes to apps that can order food, share an update, find a ride. You name it, and your phone can do it.

So what is best?

What’s better? Which one contributes to a more peaceful life? Which type of device can bring you into the present, into mindfulness about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with?

Both sides have valid points, and if you walk around any Intivix office, the odds are high that you’ll hear a constant drum of buzzes and beeps. There’s value in being connected. But, are we being mindful.

Amber Case, the author of Calm Technology: Principles and Patterns for Non-Intrusive Design, argues that the latest round of smartphones is beginning to compete with everyday life, rather than support it.

Tech companies are starting to look at building minimalist phones that, they hope, will aid in mindful technology.

Palm is a — wait for it — palm-sized Android phone that’s available to Verizon users as an additional device to their primary Verizon smartphone. Priced at $350, Palm features a simplified home screen and a camera that you’d find on the last generation smartphone.

Light Phone 2, says the phone’s developers, was designed to be used as little as possible. It’s a beautifully simple 4G LTE phone that has messaging and an alarm clock, along with Bluetooth and some other basic features. Light is available for preorder at Indiegogo.

Why the push to simplicity?

A Goldman Sachs analyst recently pointed out that smartphone sales have hit a stumbling block because people are almost becoming numb to the constant updates and upgrades while experiencing little tangible improvements in their mobile phone use.

That could be one of the factors in the drop of smartphone sales. Canalys, a tech analysis firm, reported that sales are down 6.3 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2018 in Europe.

The drop in smartphone interest began as far back as 2006, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. The author of that article pointed to “feature fatigue” as one of the leading causes of a sales slowdown.

Perhaps there’s something more holistic behind the drop? More and more people realize that they are missing out on their actual lives.

Why Social Media?

Facebook, Instagram, Apple, and Google seem to understand that they need to inform users about how much time they are spending on their phones rather than engaging in real life.

Apple’s Screen Time app shows users exactly how long they’ve been on their phones by breaking down the hours of their usage.

Facebook and Instagram introduced features to alert users when they’ve spent so many hours on the platform.

Google is launching Digital Wellbeing, an awareness campaign that informs and offers information about how to re-engage in life.

A couple of years ago, this topic was in the margins, far away from the meeting rooms of high-level executives. These days, this movement is catching on, and corporations are responding.

Listen, we love our phones, but maybe it’s time to power down and get some fresh air.

Let us know if you’re doing the same in the comments below.