Turn Off Notifications – How I Ended Up With Quiet Devices



    One of the hardest things for a lover of technology to come to grips with is the possibly that there may be certain aspects of technology that may not be as beneficial as once perceived. Or, worse yet, that these aspects may in fact be detrimental. Bummer….

   During the mobile coming of age, one key element that developers and users alike agreed upon was productivity. This would require having instant-on, up to the minute information – primarily in relation to productivity’s foundation of communication known as email. Add to that a calendar for appointments and reminders (which I personally rely on heavily), and the current world leading form of communication known as texting, productivity literally demands constant notification.

   Then came a new form of interaction known as social media. With it, the world has become an increasingly smaller place. No longer are people required to leave the comfort of their own homes to “meet” new and interesting people – from around the corner to the other side of the globe. People share as much, and as little, about themselves as they wish, whether true or make-believe. With social media came a need for a new form of productivity – being socially productive: being always up-to-date with every response to every post, sharing pictures and news links, and being on top of the latest social media trend. Again came another demand for constant notification.

   With our mobile devices we have our mobile forms of entertainment – from games, to books, to TV shows and movies – all in the form of neatly packed glowing digital squares known as apps. These bring their own need for notifications as well – stay connected with friends playing the same games and challenge their scores, receive new episode information regarding a favorite TV show, being alerted about a new eBook or movie release. Yes, yet more notifications.

   As a nerd, the fact that these types of notifications can be accomplished in an overall basic and efficient manner on such small devices is nothing short of amazing to me to this day. But then came the downside(s) to it all.

   What first started off my notification-lees lifestyle actually had nothing to do with the actual number of notifications I was receiving. It actually had to do with my once favorite cell phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Launched originally as the flagship for the Nexus line, this phone had one extremely bad flaw – extremely pathetic battery life. The best way to to squeeze out at least a halfway decent day of usage on the Galaxy Nexus was to download and install a “battery saver” app and disable notifications on basically every app installed on the phone because, for those of you who may not know (especially you Android users), notifications adversely affect battery life.

   And my phone was quiet. At the time I felt it was too quiet, so I found myself checking my social media apps for new posts, checking email, etc. Looking back on it now, I really had no logical reason to do so. Sad to admit it, but I was basically brainwashed into to thinking that I just had to.

   Today, I no longer own the Galaxy Nexus. I no longer worry about battery life. However, I still keep notifications turned off for all my most used apps / tools. Why? For a few simple reasons:

1. My social media engagement isn’t even half of what it used to be. I keep my personal Facebook profile for what I believe is the most important reason anyone should: for sharing pictures and family updates with friends and relatives. I don’t tend to engage in “conversations” there as much as I used to, but I still believe it’s an excellent platform for simply “staying in touch”. I do engage more in Google +, but I feel I get more direct engagement and content about my favorite nerd stuff there. As for Twitter – I was never a heavy user as it were, so having no notifications from there really had zero impact.

2. As for email – not really sure why I thought I ever needed email notifications in the first place to be honest. I’ve never really been in a situation where I was so eagerly awaiting an email that I just had to know the very instant when it arrived. In fact, from a common sense standpoint, I look at it this way – did I ever in my life hang around my mailbox at home waiting for mail to come, that I had to know arrived as soon as it got there? No. So I made to conscious decision that I check email only at a certain time in the day. If I’m expecting something from someone, I usually know anyway – they tell me they are sending something.

3. I do keep one notification active – my calendar. In my opinion, this is really the only important notification on my devices. From appointments, to meetings, birthdays and other events – my calendar is probably the most important tool on my devices.

   But above and beyond those reasons, the most important reason why I stopped being a slave to notifications is because I am a husband and a father. Over the years I’ve seen how the “cell phone evolution” has made much of the public become heads-down day walkers, with me being among them as well. And watching movies like Her (which I loved and highly recommend) helped hammer-home the point:

  I don’t want my children’s main memory of me being that of my head buried in a mobile device
   And with all these notifications turned off, guess what I’ve found? I am no less informed, up-to-date, or otherwise “connected” than I was with them all enabled. Don’t worry – I still love all things tech. I’m still a Nerd through and through. But I’m far less distracted by countless notifications. 



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