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Unsubscribe from everything to start taking control of (technology) in your life

Unsubscribe from everything to start taking control of (technology) in your life

“Because it moves faster than our bodies and minds, technology disrupts the natural bodily instincts that we have to stop, rest, and reflect,” Julio Vicente Gambuto explains.

Does the number of unread messages in your inbox make you feel dizzy? Do your thumbs hurt from typing too much on the keyboard? Have you ever forgotten what your real friends look like without an Instagram filter?

It's time to intervene, and Julio Vincent Gambuto There is the right remedy: cancel your subscription.

Thirty-one percent of adults say so “Almost always online”According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, Americans, on average, spend more than two and a half hours on social media daily. From approx 10 billion emails are sent every day In the United States, each full-time worker receives a daily dose of 120 letters.

Gambotto, author “Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!: How to Reclaim Our Time, Attention, and Purpose in a World Designed to Bury Us in Bullshit”says it's time to take back control of our lives, and silence Votes, Rings that it Strikes From Slack [ou Teams]And Gmail, WhatsApp, and others Alerts that interrupt us The whole day.

His book offers practical strategies for stepping back, reevaluating, and unsubscribing from the ideas, habits, and technological compromises that keep us from happiness. He hopes that by restructuring our relationships with our devices, we can create the “sacred space” we need to commit to the life we ​​truly want.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Author Julio Vincent Gambuto. Photography by John Spiers

CNN: Does technology help or hinder society's progress?

Julio Vincent Gambuto: both of them. Advances in healthcare, such as advanced diagnostic tools, are just one example of the amazing benefits of the technological revolution. But it is important, especially as we enter this chapter of artificial intelligence, to question common notions of technology as: the answer, the future, or necessarily progress.

As a society, we need to question these ideas and bring nuance back into the conversation. If we want to build a future that benefits as many people as possible, we must wake up to the ways in which technology is not serving us. It is crucial that we take back our time, attention, focus, and money—our power, in fact—to evaluate how our lives have changed, for better and for worse.

How does the speed of technology affect our ability to pay attention and be present?

Because it moves faster than our bodies and minds, technology disrupts our natural bodily instincts to stop, rest, and reflect. Our engagement with devices disrupts daily rituals that have evolved over thousands of years to serve us well, as individuals and as a society. Why do I wake up and answer emails at 11pm, exposing myself to blue light that keeps me from sleeping at 3am? The rapid pace of technology does not allow for the millisecond needed to be aware enough to take a step back.

The inhuman pace of technology and its lack of boundaries has distorted us. To achieve better balance in our lives, we need to slow down and reimpose boundaries. Any way you can do it — whether it's on your calendar, online, or in your social interactions — is best.

How is today's marketing and advertising different from the era of Mad Men, for example, and why is this important?

What has changed is the sheer amount of brand messaging everywhere. I grew up in the world of marketing communications when… “Rule of Seven” It was gospel. This rule, which originated in 1923, says that “a potential customer needs to see the message at least seven times within an 18-month period” to be prompted to act. Now, with screens everywhere, this idea has become even stronger. Some digital marketing experts estimate that we are Exposure to over 4,000 brand messages per dayAlthough there are no official numbers.

Today's ads are also more interactive. Now, your mobile or TV ad includes a link that gives you a clickable way to buy right away. Furthermore, the vast amounts of data available mean that targeted campaigns are no longer restricted to very general categories of information. Today's marketing data is insidious. capacity Psychological data – which classifies people on the basis of psychological variables such as attitudes, values ​​or fears – to evaluate more than their gender, race, marital status, etc., is mind-boggling. Technology allows big companies to push your buttons, almost literally, so you can push theirs.

“Please unsubscribe, thanks!”, by Julio Vicente Gambotto. Simon & Schuster

Your book calls for “business literacy.” What do you mean by that?

It will be helpful to educate ourselves and our children about media and branding knowledge, providing the tools to question and understand the incredibly powerful branding process – which is rooted in storytelling – and the drivers and incentives at stake. We must all understand how these messages are crafted and how photography, animation and video are used to manipulate, persuade and move people emotionally. As we move toward a more automated, AI-driven society, we will need critical thinking skills to question what we see and how we make sense of the media we consume.

Is it possible to benefit from the advantages of technology without falling victim to it?

It is absolutely possible to use and benefit from technology. My hope is that we use it and not exploit it. The first step is to opt out, which cancels our participation in autopilot.

How can we benefit from canceling our subscription?

When we consciously decide whether we want something in our lives, we give ourselves the opportunity to disrupt the dynamics that keep us in an endless cycle of digital engagement. We can apply this to our work calendar, spending habits, social relationships, and many other aspects of life.

By unsubscribing from everything for a short period of time and switching to analog devices whenever possible, we become more aware of our behavior and consumption habits. With this knowledge, we can consciously add to any technology that serves us well. The main advantage is the ability to make deliberate decisions rather than just following them the current situationMotivated by social pressures or customs. This shift allows us to be present to discover that we are slipping into default and change our approach instead.

His book, Unsubscribing, is a technology detox diet. What strategies do you suggest?

  • Do a “digital detox.” Maybe you return to using cash for daily expenses or writing paper checks for your monthly bills, stop shopping online — including ordering fast food — and stop using social media.

  • Silence all possible notifications on your phone and computer. Turn off your cell phone, at least during certain periods of the day, or leave it on when you go out for 15 minutes, then 30, then an hour.

  • Recover your laptop and cell phone by deleting apps, limiting yourself to just 10 on your laptop base and a maximum of 20 on your cell phone.

  • Downsize your devices. Instead of giving in to the constant need to upgrade, I replaced my iPhone with a low-tech “simple smartphone for seniors.”

  • Unsubscribe from all automatic emails. Set rules about how you use email to improve and make your life or business easier, so that your inbox isn't just a digital garbage dump without any order or intention.

  • Use your email autoresponder and outgoing voicemail message to set expectations about business hours and response times for communications.

  • Decide how you want to use text messages. When I discovered that a lot of my friendships were just text messages, I stopped initiating text conversations and started calling people. At first, they are afraid, but hearing each other's voices does wonders for the friendship.

  • Turn off smart speakers and virtual assistant technology to make your home as quiet and clutter-free as possible. Turn off Wi-Fi for periods of time. Try putting an old alarm clock in your room so nothing will go off. Return home to a place of solace and restoration.

The goal here is to give yourself the space to make intentional decisions about how you want to use devices and apps to improve your life.

Urges readers to stop apologizing for response time. Why?

Apologizing for not immediately responding to an email indirectly means that we should all agree that emails should be answered within one day. It's time to stop putting pressure on each other to accept these expectations when none of us have lived up to them. We can help change collective norms by changing our language. Instead of “sorry,” we can simply say: “nice to hear from you.” We must confront the culture of apologies, shame, and pressure on communication expectations we have adopted.

Your book provides several “Texts”Suggest language for conversations related to opting out. He also advises: “Stop saying yes.” Why?

I spent my twenties in “say yes to life” mode. But this is not sustainable. It's important to remember that our time, energy, and focus have limits. Realizing this is incredibly liberating, because it allows us to create operational structures that take pressure off of us.

For example, during my book tour, I challenged myself to only post one photo per city Social media. This completely changed the way I reacted during events and eased my workload afterwards. This simple restriction changed my experience because I was able to be present and talk to people without the pressure of recording every minute.

The promise behind his advice is to create what he calls “sacred space.” What is this?

For decades, coaches, therapists, and dance teachers have been telling me to “find some peace,” “practice meditation,” “get out of your head,” or “let go.” I never understood what they meant. My life has never been quiet. Even when I was alone in the room, I couldn't find that peace, given everything that was on my screen, on my phone and in my mind.

Now I can, and I find that sacred space allows me to hear my true inner voice. In our society, we spend a lot of time running away from that sound, covering it up, filling it with noise, both external and internal. It's a difficult task, but I believe that the more people who can hear this voice, the healthier our society will be. The basic premise of this book is that by challenging ourselves to find silence and listen to our true voices, we can be healthier and happier, individually and collectively.

*Editor's note Jessica DuLong is a Brooklyn, New York-based journalist, book contributor, writing coach, and author of Saved at the Seawall: Stories from the 9/11 Boat Lift and My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work that Built America.

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