Mental Health

I Shut Off Push Notifications on My Phone and Found Freedom

Embracing a red bubble free life!

If you’ve interacted with humanity at all at any point in the last few years you’ve probably noticed that basically everybody, everywhere, has some sort of smart phone or other smart device. I’m no exception, I have an iPhone and an Apple Watch that I’m wearing as I write this.

The whole world is controlled by this technology, even elementary schoolers who don’t have phones yet, have iPads or other tablets that have just as many abilities as a phone with nothing more than a Wifi connection. People can make phone calls from their computers and send texts from their watches. It’s non-stop connectivity.

There are 12 different ways, just on my phone, people can contact me. So I shut it down.

Last year one of my friends said something to me about not wanting to be controlled by all of this technology and that really struck me. The term “being controlled” might seem extreme but it’s true, it controls all of us and once you think about it that way how can you do anything but try to change. So I decided to fix it.

Towards the end of last semester I turned off almost all of my push notifications on my cell phone. Everything I do runs through my phone, my appointments, my homework, my GPS, and all of the ways that I stay in touch with people. There are 12 different ways, just on my phone, people can contact me. So I shut it down.

That means zero social media, unless I’m already on my phone.

Honestly, the idea of a total Social Media vacation is often on my mind, but this is a way to baby step into it. My social medias like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook don’t send any push notifications. My emails don’t show up on my lock-screen. The only things that show up actually set to a sound are text messages, phone calls, and emails, the bare minimum that would notify you if you still had a flip phone.

For the record, the only reason I even have email notifications is for school. If a message is coming through Instagram or Snapchat there’s a good chance that it’s not very important, certainly not time sensitive. Nothing gets through until I open my phone on my own.

How it changed my world

I’ll admit, at first it was kinda weird. I’ve had a smartphone since I was 13;  saving up my babysitting money to buy my first iPhone. As I got older and more and more social media platforms became available, I joined Facebook and Instagram, and then Snapchat, and then Twitter too. Between the four of these, in addition to texts and calls and now things like GroupMe and Messenger, the push notifications are endless.

As soon as I changed those settings life changed. I found myself getting less distracted by my phone, and I felt less like my phone was controlling me. It was weird at first, I felt like I was missing things that I should be aware of, missing information from my friends, and then I realized that if somebody actually has something important to say that it’s probably worth a phone call or at least a text.

I counted on the fact that important messages wouldn’t be sent through Instagram DMs or Snapchats. To this day, I have people telling me that my generation is “addicted” to our smartphones because we don’t know any other way, and that is probably true, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s how join the zero push notifications life

Go into your settings and select the settings for push notifications. Within each app’s notification settings you can choose what you want to be notified of and how. I have badges and banners for most of my apps, this just means that I see the little red bubble on the corner of the app icon that tells me if I have any new notifications and, if my phone is already unlocked, a banner will show up at the top of my screen if something new comes through.

The only things that have sounds and that show up on my lock screen are my text messages, emails, and phone calls. Fun fact this is also where you can turn on things like emergency weather push notifications and amber alerts.

Hopefully this will take some stress from your life, help you prioritize and enjoy some real life conversation! Disconnect to re-connect!

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Caroline is a Sophomore English Major who loves swimming, horseback...