How to Give Your Phone a Lobotomy


This is my iPhone. To say it is a computing powerhouse is a gross understatement.

According to Wikipedia:

The iPhone X contains Apple's A11 Bionic system-on-chip, which is a six-core processor with two cores optimized for performance, along with four cores optimized for efficiency. It also features the first Apple-designed graphics processing unit and a Neural Engine, which powers an artificial intelligence accelerator.

The tool I carry in my front pocket is more efficient, more powerful, and more elegant than every computing device the Reagan administration used to wage the Cold War, combined.

If the iPhone were a person, though, it would be the most manic individual on Earth.

  • So and so called/texted.

  • Did you do that thing?

  • Did you do that other thing?

  • Your boss emailed you.

  • Hey look, 100 pictures of cats you need to see.

Much like doctors who performed lobotomies to make mentally ill patients more compliant in the 1940s, I chose to lobotomize my phone.

I painstakingly removed its ability to notify me.

I silenced every beep, boop, bell, whistle, and ring.

I consolidated all my apps to one screen, and organized them according to a system that I prefer.

Finally, I downloaded the Flipd app, which makes the smartphone even dumber; reducing it to calls and text messages for a set period of time.

It took some time to reduce my smartphone down to a more usable tool.

And it is a tool; let us not forget that.

A tool for which we were not prepared.

A tool we are still grappling with how to use.

A tool that changed how we perceive the world in a deep, meaningful way.

The smartphone is the fire of our generation, but if we do not set some limits; we will inevitably burn ourselves.

Fire - Operating System version 0.01

Fire - Operating System version 0.01

At this point, some readers might be wondering if I am anti-technology. Not even close. As I type this sentence my smartphone is charging wirelessly and providing a WIFI hotspot, while playing Consolation No.3 in D Flat Major. The water I used to make my morning cup of coffee was heated in an electric kettle, and I woke up to a blue light lamp.

These tools are amazing, but I make the clear distinction that these are just tools. When I am done making breakfast, I wash my skillet and stow it. When I am done brushing my teeth, I turn off the electric toothbrush. When I am not driving my car, I turn off the engine.

See a pattern here?

Do you even know how to turn off your phone? Have you ever felt the need? I had to go well down the first page of Google search results to get something that was not rebooting or restarting the phone!

Fire - Operating System version 5.27

Fire - Operating System version 5.27

My smartphone disturbed my mental health; fortunately, since no one told me there was a right way to use it, I am free to find a way that works for me.

Now, I check my phone when I feel the need. I see the calls or texts that I missed and get back to people on my own time.

Apologies in advance for anyone expecting an instantaneous response; my time is valuable and I will get back to you when it is best for me to do so.

The fire is more contained; made more usable and safer to use on a daily basis. I invite you to try a similar strategy.