Anatasia Dedyukhina slept with the phone in her hand. Sometimes she vibrated before the phone. Or I dreamed that it vibrated.
One day, four years ago, he admitted that this path did not seem right for his life. The way to disengage was to abandon the mobile. He left his job in London in one of the big technology companies in the world and, above all, abandoned his mobile phone for a year.
His willpower to use the phone less was not going to work. "We should not trust our strength of will because it has shown a limited resource," he says. "I'll give an example, let's say you want to start a diet, what's the best way? Do not buy chocolate, that's my way, I could not find a sustainable way to use the phone. it is a sensation that has an effect on my alertness, "explains this British woman of Russian origin.
"We should not rely on our willpower because a limited resource has been demonstrated"
Dedyukhina knows that not all willpower is the same. Although our confidence in her is usually excessive. Nor, he says, is it anti-mobile or anti-technology. The company that he founded is called Consciously Digital and wants to educate in the digital minimalism, not on how to live without a cell phone
Today your phone is a basic Nokia: calls, sms and camera, but without internet. Carry a smartphone, but without a SIM card. Use it to request an Uber or to take the boarding pass downloaded with wifi. It is a way to control yourself. His choice is more radical, but the consequences are the same for everyone.
The main problem of the mobile, according to Dedyukhina, is how it untangles our brain on several levels. First, it's an unreal dopamine shot. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and addictive experiences in the brain. "You do not need to get anything special to get a good dopamine shot from the mobile phone: it's good to hang up a photo and get a liking," he explains. Or receive the response to an email, or a click to something we have posted, or a news item with a headline that fits our position, or an offer in an online store. "The email was not created as something addictive, but it could be, but social networks, on the other hand, were adapted to be more sticky," says Dedyukhina.
"It's junk food for the brain," he adds.
In a recent talk at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Dedyukhina asked how many people had trouble reading a book. More than half raised their hands. In the room there were more than 100 people and others crowded at the entrance. Next, a talk on how to embed a chip in the skin had half an entry.
Although it has been spoken for years to detoxify from the mobile, the trend in 2019 to stop and look at what we are doing with technology has grown. "Everything has been going on for a couple of years: Cambridge Analytica and the first decade with mobile phones have been the trigger," says Dedyukhina.
Apple and takeoff
Dedyukhina ignores an important detail. The takeoff of this concern was in the autumn of 2018. Apple, Facebook and Google launched since summer with different intensity the final versions of their initiatives to make the users aware of the problem. Searches for "screen time" (time on screen) increased in October and November 2018, when version 12 of Apple's iOS operating system came out. Google uses the formula "digital well-being", which has been less marked.
"The problem with books is that you need to be focused and you can not achieve immediate gratification," he explains. That change in our mental reward system prevents us from being focused. It is likely that we end up looking for the phone for a small shot of dopamine, which the book does not give us. The rule of Dedyukhina for the moments that require concentration is that you hide or move away the mobile.
"I could not find a sustainable way to use the phone. If I always have it with me I will look at it"
There begins another of the major problems of the mobile: time flies. We are not able to consult something and leave it. "I do not know anyone who uses the mobile only for maps," he says. There is always another notification that requires attention. Among the younger people, it is not uncommon to find an average of one consultation every 10 minutes on the mobile. That's about 100 looks to the screen a day. "Sometimes you look at a social network, or WhatsApp or some pictures you have in the email, but basically it's a little bit of constant stimulation, and for each one it's different: there are people who can not live without looking at the news and other messages or I like them, everything is fine, but in moderation, "says Dedyukhina.
How much is it in moderation? Dedyukhina would ask the question in another way: "Is it affecting other areas of your life? For example, is there something you would like to do for the New Year and you have not yet started? Maybe you are more with the family, or playing sports. because you get home tired and you think you're going to surf 5 minutes and in the end you do not realize how long you've been in total, "he explains. One of Dedyukhina's rules is "never connect when you are tired". You are more vulnerable
Dedyukhina's digital minimalism focuses on courses to make you aware of the role of mobile and technology in life: "It's a tool, if there's something you can do without technology, then do not set it in. If I'm physically with friends, I do not need know what other friends say, "he says. Dedyukhina likes it the Meetup app, that allows online people to be related to stay in the real world: whether to go skiing or to be in a foreign city.
Dedyukhina does not like to use the word "addiction" because that implies medical diagnosis, which happens with the game or purchases. But not with the phone, at the moment. "I prefer to talk about bad habits," he says.
Has Dedyukhina changed since he stopped using his mobile phone? She says yes: "Since I stopped using my mobile phone obsessively I'm a calmer person, or at least I think so."