Ramblings of a Tampa engineer

Throughout my life I've been told to slow down, this wasn't in reference to my driving or social life, but how I never learned to appreciate the now and kept looking ahead.

Photo by Daniel Monteiro / Unsplash

Every year technology eeks its way one step closer to our lives. Two years ago I didn't have a voice assistant waiting for my every command in my living room. Three years ago I didn't have a home automation system tracking my temperature and finally eight years ago I didn't have a smart phone capable of searching anything my heart desired.

All these enhancements require my attention and they deliver, in return, nearly instantaneous results. This without my knowledge had slipped in my every day life. Meals that took more than a few minutes to prepare were cooked less frequently. The effort and time required for a complicated meal became less preferred versus microwaving something in a few minutes.

Outside of my kitchen was a computer with endless websites and products demanding my attention. It was an addiction to follow up on whatever service required a response or read into whatever notification had appeared. It was becoming apparent that everything wanted my attention and it felt good feeding my attention to where it was needed.

However, things became quite upsetting. Live TV was difficult to watch, littered with minutes of advertisements between the content which was a distraction from what my mind was interested in. This led to online web streams, Netflix and a Plex account.

I couldn't slow down. No matter what I did, my brain craved that thing without distractions. A SunPass for toll booths to save stopping, A Pi-Hole to block online advertisements, A Google Home to manage my media without lifting a finger.

Unfortunately, I don't think these enhancements are going away as they will continue to evolve and reach more people. So the idea of removing these products/tools is not a viable one. I simply adapted my lifestyle and started with my phone.

It was alarming how many applications had permission to generate audio notifications and even vibrate my phone. I went through every application tweaking the permissions. Nearly every application was restricted to generating silent notifications so only when I used my phone could I notice an application required my attention.

Some applications generated silent notifications that did nothing but attempt to draw me in. For these applications they lost the ability to even place a notification in my status bar. This meant that I only checked those applications when I decided to open them. This over time allowed me to see what applications I actually cared about and greatly decreased the time I spent looking at my phone.

A small run in the morning made my day actually feel longer despite taking the time to work out. I felt more awake and less drive to sit at a computer checking on notifications. I found my life slowing down and throughly enjoyed being able to appreciate each event as it happened. My focus and attention was back at my control.

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