It’s time for Farhad Manjoo to write a less eye-roll-inducing column:
Imagine if, once a week, your phone gave you a report on how you
spent your time, similar to how your activity tracker tells you
how sedentary you were last week. It could also needle you:
“Farhad, you spent half your week scrolling through Twitter. Do
you really feel proud of that?” It could offer to help: “If I
notice you spending too much time on Snapchat next week, would you
like me to remind you?”
This sounds annoying as hell. Being aware of how much time you’re spending in which apps is an interesting idea, but you can already get a good sense of that in the Settings → Battery panel.
Another idea is to let you impose more fine-grained controls over
notifications. Today, when you let an app send you mobile alerts,
it’s usually an all-or-nothing proposition — you say yes to
letting it buzz you, and suddenly it’s buzzing you all the time.
Mr. Harris suggested that Apple could require apps to assign a
kind of priority level to their notifications. “Let’s say you had
three notification levels — heavy users, regular users and lite,
or Zen,” Mr. Harris said.
Apple could set rules for what kind of notifications were allowed
in each bucket — for instance, the medium bucket might allow
notifications generated by other people (like a direct message in
Instagram) but not those from the app itself (Instagram just
sending you an alert to remind you that your high school friend’s
mom’s brother posted a new picture recently).
I’m all in favor of controls to reduce notifications. But excessive notifications don’t make me feel addicted to my phone — they make me annoyed.
This whole narrative that our phones are “too addictive” is nonsense. When I was a teenager my friends and I spent hours each week on the phone. Regular dumb old landline phones. There was no problem with landline phones being “addictive”. We simply craved social interaction and an alleviation of boredom. We use our “phones” today for the same reasons. They are more of a solution — again, to our collective desire for social interaction and alleviation of boredom — than a problem.
★ Wednesday, 17 January 2018