Taking a step back from technology

Recently. a Mudita Community member posted about the difficulties some individuals may go through while intentionally unplugging or choosing to take a step back from technology. @marc67 laid out approx 9 reasons why moving away from immersive technology might be difficult if, as it seems, the whole world seems to be moving towards more & more digitalization & even more technology.
I recently listened to an interesting episode of the DUMBPHONE SHOW, by the very talented @Jose_Briones, in which he gives us a preview of the first chapter of his book, Digital Balance: Finding Your Path Towards Digital Minimalism.
This got me thinking…
Breaking up with technology is a lot like breaking up & getting back together with a toxic EX: you know it’s bad for you, you know you can do better, you know your time could be better spend doing other things, things better for your health & well-being, but somehow, you’re hooked & you can’t truly cut the cord. You’ll leave for a little bit, maybe even do a 24hr detox, but then you go right back, jonesing for a hit of dopamine.
Just like breaking up with a toxic EX, breaking up with immersive technology involves goals, rules & boundaries. All of @marc67’s concerns could be address with alternative options & better planning. Yes, accepting the ever-present, immersive technology as “just the way things are,” is the same as constantly making excuses for the toxic behaviors of a partner, who, as we all know, doesn’t really have our best interests in mind. They just want to control us.
Technology is convenient & comfortable- and comfort is a DRUG. Once you get used to it, it becomes addictive.
Let’s face it, breaking up IS HARD to do, whether with technology, or something else that’s BAD for us.
Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts!


Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:


Hi all. I’m the author of a small blog in Dutch about living without a smartphone ( Bewust zonder smartphone ) . I compare the use of a smartphone with the smoking of sigarettes. Just like tobacco, the smartphone/digital industry is everywhere, it invaded our culture, and the sector has super strong lobbyists. Still, people start to realise they are addicted and it’s harming their health. As a response, the industry releases ‘digital wellbeing’ apps, which is comparable to ‘light sigarettes’ and complete nonsense. This reasoning extends to digital life in general: digitalisation is a double edged sword. It brings comfort and ease and a way to navigate a very fast-paced society. On the other hand it’s also one of the drivers of the fast-paced society.


@nilss Welcome to the Mudita Community & thanks for sharing your blog with us. Even though I don’t speak or read Dutch, the ENG translation is GREAT.
I have to say, I agree with your assessment of immersive technology. It’s designed to be addictive & make us consume MORE & MORE, in the same way cigarettes used to target the population. Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide what best for our health & well-being, regardless of outside pressure.



Good and valid options.

The problem is that the world around us continues and certain conveniences don’t always have to be bad or addictive.

I boil water with an electric kettle and not on the gas. I watch movies on Netflix and Prime and don’t go to a video store to rent it there.

Yes, I can do without GPS and fall back on a paper map, but what if I get lost in the forest during a walk?

If you really have to, you can indeed function without a smartphone. But why make it so difficult for yourself? Some did suggest to carry around extra appliances with your like photo camera’s, e-readers and even laptops. Is that convenient?

What makes a smartphone so addictive? I think: Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, sending each other “funny” videos via WhatsApp, games etc. etc.

Not a GPS, bank app or photo camera.

A dumber phone helps you pay more attention to the life around you.

But a phone that’s too dumb makes it too difficult for you in this modern age.

There’s a better middle ground, I think.


Those apps are definitely a problem, however, I do think that when we discuss smartphones, it’s not only about those time-syphoning apps. Many people are also concerned about GPS/Location tracking via GoogleMaps & how it’s being used to make GOOGLE money. I wrote about it here:

Another concern is that even if you turn off the location tracker- Google is still doing it & now have been taken to court over it.
I wrote about that here:

There is definitely a middle ground. However, sometimes it’s not always possible if BIG TECH doesn’t let us have that middle ground.


Personally, I started using OpenStreetMaps instead of Google Maps. I even started contributing to the project by mapping shops, sidewalks and cycle paths (I don’t have a car). On my phone I use Organic Maps - it feels more polished and has smoother animations than the (much more complex) OSMAnd app. I recommend trying OpenStreetMaps, if you are looking for a more private (maybe even open-source) Google Maps alternative. (It’s not perfect, but I kinda like it :slight_smile:)


@john_dumpling Thanks for the tip. I hate GoogleMaps & how it’s always wanting to know where I’ve been.


I managed to live without Google for 15 years, by just not using any of their services or Android. I’m currently using Apple. Can I trust Apple? Don’t know for sure, but I trust them way more than Google, Microsoft or Amazon.

Can I trust Mudita? I do. But it’s possible that Mudita will track me and sell my data (eg. to which numbers did I make calls).

If you don’t trust anybody then even having a phone is a no go. Without GPS your mobile provider can still track you. You have to trust somebody.

Luckily, you don’t need Google for GPS. You have numerous possibilities to use GPS privately (if you at least trust some services).

I think it’s perfectly possible to use the things I mentioned without having to be connected to the big tech and/or being tracked.


@john_dumpling , even if you don’t use Google maps, your Android or iOS phone will still track you.

@marc67 Apple is as bad an offender as Google. Even when you turn off your GPS, they will still track your location using WiFi and Bluetooth triangulation (the so-called ‘location services’). Turning off Bluetooth or WiFi does not stop that either, look at their support page: Use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in Control Center - Apple Support Funny enough you can actually turn location services off on a Google Android phone and Google is more privacy respecting in that aspect. Apart from your location, Apple also looks at which apps you use, which photos you have, they listen through your microphone for keywords, etc.

The only solution is to use open-source. Even though you will probably not look at all the code yourself, you know the code has been audited by a community and there is nothing there to spy on you.
For smartphones, we have custom ROMs for that such as lineageOS, /e/ OS, GrapheneOS, CalyxOS, ProtonAOSP and many many others.
For dumbphones, well,… most dumbphones have proprietary software which is closed-source, but they also lack the processing power or capabilities to track you. Maybe KaiOS can.
Mudita is the pearl in the dumbphone landscape: it has open-source software! Not only does a Mudita Pure lack the capabilities to track your location (no GPS chip or WiFi), but you can also verify from the source code that software will not steal your data.


You really can’t be sure you are not being tracked (unless everything is open source and you have checked the code), but de-googled android is a great first step in my opinion.


@nilss Google is actually being sues over deceptive tracking. I wrote about it in a separate thread:

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I think some very interesting and good points are made here, and I would like to add to them slightly, as I can appreciate the concerns while still having slightly contrary views.

I largely agree with the sentiment of this, although the issues are less straightforward than this. For instance, one might appreciate the aesthetic pleasure of a whistling kettle on a wood-burning stove or the gas ring. “Mindful tea”, if you like! I love the anticipation and experience of brewing loose-leaf tea in a pot, “properly”. Netflix and the like are also undoubtedly convenient, but some people like having physical media with artwork, artist’s notes etc. I suspect this is more relevant to listeners of vinyl LPs, though. I’d definitely agree with you that convenience and technological progress in themselves are not a bad thing; it’s the price you pay and the side-effects that we must weigh against these benefits, and that tipping-point is different for us all.

I’d encourage you never to venture so deep into the wilderness that this was ever a possibility, without the proper skills and training to get yourself out safely again. Smartphone and GPS batteries have notoriously short lives, and you can break or drop your device (or indeed a paper map, although the latter in a plastic wallet might be the most durable option). I’ve never needed to use a GPS on a bushcraft event, and in an unfamiliar area or without sufficient training it would be madness to veer so far from a path that you couldn’t find your way out again. That said, accidents do happen and the additional safety-net of a phone or GPS is a good thing. But I think this veers into the territory I’ve covered in other posts, regarding over-reliance on technology versus its use as a tool/aid when necessary. A GPS as a backup or supplement/convenience is undoubtedly a good thing. Relying on a GPS as your sole means of avoiding a slow and horrific death by starvation, clearly would be less so.

This is a good argument for sensible use of a utilitarian smartphone or semi-smart phone. At the same time, there are two other sideline benefits to being “the awkward misfit without the smartphone”. I believe it important to ensure that it is still possible to function in society without a smartphone, for the benefit of elderly people, people who have run out of battery, those who have had their phone lost, broken or stolen, and so on. As long as sufficient people do things “the old fashioned way”, companies and governments are more likely to retain those means of doing things as alternative/backup possibilities. And you never know when you might just need the backup option one day. I think this is particularly important because no nation should depend entirely on a single (or two) private company’s (or other nation’s) proprietary services to function. As we saw with the pandemic, any unrest or disruption (or even disagreement/whim of the upstream monopoly/duopoly) has dire consequences to the dependant nation. Therefore, by being one of the few people “making life difficult for oneself”, you help keep that safety-net there for everyone else. It doesn’t necessarily make the smartphone a bad thing, it’s just good to have security / open options. Additionally, smartphones as they currently exist are designed to track and addict/subjugate the user. I suspect few people have the discipline or strength to use such a device purely as a tool, and therefore for some (many?) people, the smartphone itself is actually making life more difficult for its users than the “conveniences” it provides. I see this time and time again with my many relatives who extol the virtues of their iThings, yet have to carry multiple battery-packs, can’t function if it runs out of charge or they lose it, have developed shortened attention-spans and tempers since getting them, no longer talk to people face to face, constantly moan about having “no time for anything” (they’re retired), being constantly tired, and so on… They are such a slave to their devices, I observe their lives as less convenient with their smart devices. They are thoroughly addicted and cannot see this for themselves, which I find concerning. Maybe you or I could use these devices more judiciously, but there are certainly some people who think they’re getting a convenience when the net effect they experience is actually inconvenience.

Very-much agreed. Although one could argue that a point-and-shoot camera occupies as much pocket/handbag space as a spare battery. And if your job or hobbies permit, you can perhaps “work around” these inconveniences via a change in mindset. For instance, deciding whether you really need to take an appliance with you. A more mindful and purposeful use of technology - go out with the specific intention of having a good read, or taking a great photo, etc. This of course won’t be suitable for everyone. But the point is, you don’t need all these devices all the time. Therefore if you are able, and if you have enough of a desire to simplify, it can be done. It all depends on where that balance-point on the scales is for you personally. I suspect for you it is weighted much more towards the “smart” side of things, and me, towards the “dumb” side of things. I think as long as we all have these conversations and pick our balance point consciously and mindfully, we will achieve healthy use of technology, whether it’s 10 hours a day on an iThing or 10 seconds a day checking for text messages on a minimalist device.


Thanks for sharing your opinion. I understand what your saying.

Bottom line of what I’m trying to say is that a phone can be a great tool with all sorts of features to make your live a bit more convenient. We’re living in modern times. It’s not a bad thing.

A bad thing if that phone is absorbing your attention and/or becomes a addiction. It should be a tool. Ready if you need it and in the background if you don’t.

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@marc67 This is exactly what I think about technology in general. It’s great when it’s there to be useful, but I can’t let it take over my life. I need time for living in the REAL word & not to be stuck in VIRTUA: REALITY

Yes, yes, and yes!

The electric kettle example is maybe not the best. And I can guarantee you when you have young children, things get a lot less mindful. Time and again I tried making coffee using a French press, but my toddler is so distracting and always gets into trouble that I just cannot get that coffee done. I use an automatic drip coffee maker.

And this thing with the multiple devices is so true. “I carry a smartphone because it’s everything at once, it replaces all my devices (camera, gps etc.).” But then they carry a battery pack, airpods, airpod charging case… :rofl:

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Hahaha I sympathise a lot! Brewing tea in a pot and coffee in a French press is second nature to me, as I really don’t like the taste of instant / cup-brewed, so I’ve just always done it. I lost track of the number of times I threw cold tea or coffee away because my toddler was distracting me!!

Of course, now she’s approaching 4, I can begin to start enjoying it again… she loves joining in and “helping” to make it with me. She puts around 99% of the leaves/grounds on the worktop, and maybe 10% in the pot, and steps back while I pour on the water. When she’s not looking, I sneak in another spoonful to get the strength right, and then I pour a tiny drop into some milk in her little toy teaset… It takes about 10 times as long as it used to, but good things come to those who wait.

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Hahah, throwing out the cold coffee. Happens all the time :joy: . That’s why both my filter coffee maker and my French press are metal (so my kids don’t break them) and insulating (so the coffee stays warm). I like the taste of filter coffee, so I don’t mind the machine brewed (no instant or capsules, just traditional filter brew). I also used to grind coffee myself but my machine grinds it too course. It’s great for French press but for filter it doesn’t work. My 4 year old doesn’t care anymore but my 2 year old really wants to help making coffee. Indeed only half of the coffee ground ends up in the filter but it’s all about the process :smiley:

@forest_cat & @nilss From your comments I’ve gathered that you both have young children. I wanted to start a separate thread about introducing young children to technology. Given what we know now, that we perhaps didn’t know 20-25 years ago about young brains & too much technology, I’d love to hear your take on this subject.

Go ahead. But I have to tell you I’m very conflicted about the topic, too.