Author Archives: alexhollender

Thinking about the effects of cell phones

From an email I sent to Tristan Harris, somewhat in response to his article:

1) Turning off general push notifications for most apps, and particularly turning off badging on app icons for apps with inboxes that you never empty, has been the most helpful for me escaping the vortex of my phone thus far.

2) As a result of having an ever-present digital flow of communication and information at my disposal my ability to plan ahead has begun to atrophy. A certain amount of forethought and intentionality has been surrendered to the spontaneity that is encouraged by this portal of a million connections and options which we call a cell phone. My ability to commit begins to wane as well, as I slowly switch over from rich yet repercussive relationships, to lighter, less consequential ones. Something about the ability to make or change any decision on such short notice leaves me constantly micro-redirecting my life. Decisions are perpetually tentative. Even once Iv’e made one I’m unable to stop shopping for other options. I wonder if people used to plan more. I suspect they were better at keeping plans than we are. And perhaps there is some sort’ve collective short sightedness developing as a result of each moment containing such a multitude of possibilities. I’m constantly distracted from larger life decisions by inconsequential, digital ones. Our identities and relationships are perhaps less defined now because they are overly abundant.

3) My least favorite part of going on a first date with a girl is the part between initially receiving their phone number and actually sitting down together for the date. Firstly, upon receiving her number you are immediately faced with the pressure of communicating something witty and intelligent to her. (This endeavor is ultimately distracting, tiring, and unnecessary in the long run.) Once the texting begins you are on the clock, and every beat of the conversation is recorded in time, which becomes your primary concern. How long should you wait before responding, and how long did she: a meaningless activity you engage in. And maybe you also start negotiating with yourself how much you should ask her about herself before the date versus waiting until being with her in person. You wade through that for a while until finally deciding on a place and time for the date. Then begins the rescheduling. A few weeks ago I asked the hostess at Kin Khao if she would let me buy her a drink sometime. She said sure, and after we chatted for a bit she said I suppose I should give you my phone number. I asked her if instead of giving me her phone number she’d be willing to make a plan there and then. She agreed and we decided to meet at Whitechapel a few nights later. She showed up for the date and it was a fun experience all around. We planned a second date and proceeded without each others’ phone numbers.

I’m probably more concerned with the general effects of mobile communication and information, whereas your article was about the harmful agendas of unregulated tech products, but it seems to be all related in some way so I wanted to share. An experiment I hope to try in the near future is leaving my cell phone at home each day for 30 days so that I only use it in the mornings and evenings. I’d get by just fine despite a few minor inconveniences, and I think it’d be super interesting to see how small things might change.

Two Lists of Films

A list of films I enjoyed recently:

Young & Beautiful (François Ozon, 2013)
Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton, 1996)
Fury (David Ayer, 2014)
Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2014)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)

A list of films I thought I would enjoy but didn’t:

Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014)
Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, 2014)
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, 2014)
All Is Lost (J. C. Chandor, 2013)