By SnowleopardJ


“We live in a world in which a tree is worth more, financially, dead than alive, in a world in which a whale is worth more dead than alive. For so long as our economy works in that way and corporations go unregulated, they’re going to continue to destory trees, to kill whales, to mine the earth, and to continue to pull oil out of the ground, even though we know it is destroying the planet and we know that it’s going to leave a worse world for future generations. This is short-term thinking based on this religion of profit at all costs, as if somehow, magically, each corporation acting in its selfish interest is going to produce the best result. This has been affecting the environment for a long time. What’s frightening, and what hopefully is the last straw that will make us wake up as a civilization to how flawed this theory has been in the first place is to see that now we’re the tree, we’re the whale. Our attention can be mined. We are more profitable to a corporation if we’re spending time staring at a screen, staring at an ad, than if we’re spending that time living our life in a rich way.”

– Justin Rosenstein, Former Engineer lead at Facebook, Former Product manager at Google


🥷🏻 Social media is NOT “Social”

The quote this time is from a Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma (2020)”. Many believe that the virtual world is simply a insignificant part of our lives, assuming we still possess plenty of time beyond that. But looking back on the past week, month, or even year, how much time have we truly devoted to our phones? The virtual realms people often discussed are no longer confined to the idea of “virtual”, they have penetrated our lives. When we begin to feel that something is affecting our life too much, it raises a question: regardless of how others think of the thing as “positive” or “negative,” how does it impact me?

Humans are extremely delicate. When we’re kids, cartoons can grab our attention. As we grow up, we become attracted to our favorite idols, and as adults, we find ourselves fallen into the relaxation offered by apps like TikTok. Every moment of our lives seems appealing with the emergence of social media and big data. Our information is continuously collected, and our phones know us better than we do. Remember when you first used an app and had to click a little “I agree” box? The moment you clicked on it, not only did your phone no longer belong to you, but before you know it, your mind will start slipping away.

My everyday data, whether it’s photos, documents or other files, is often measured in gigabytes or even terabytes. Thus, regular data cleaning is important to me. Otherwise, if I don’t tidy it up for a while, things quickly become a mess. However, since I hadn’t considered phones when I first started organizing data several years ago, it came as a surprise when, two years ago, I suddenly realized that my phone had become chaotic–not only the files but also the apps. So I wondered, how could I have missed the most commonly used device?

From then on, I started planning to deactivate the apps I have.

But wait! Deactivating my apps, especially social media, sounds really scary. I still have so much information on them, including contacts, chat history, favorites, etc. How could I just get rid of them like this?

Even though I had a feeling that social media had affected my life, among all the apps that I have, which ones I don’t need and which ones are useful to me remain unknown. So I decided to wait and see for a while. Every month, I would uninstall a small portion of the software I had, then re-install it the next month to see if I truly needed them during that time. I call it the 30-Day method. As for how to determine the usefulness of each of them, my rule is that for a messaging software, if I didn’t receive any meaningful messages within the month, then it is meaningless to me. But if it’s not a messaging software like TikTok, which is mainly for videos, then I will still do the same thing, uninstall it, wait a month, and then re-install it. But many times for non-communication apps, such as TikTok, I don’t even want to re-install them after a month, and sometimes I even forget that I had that app before.

In many cases, those apps often have a negative impact due to their addictive nature. Many of us including myself might feel satisfied when we lie in bed and pick up our phone to scroll through TikTok before going to sleep, but what about the next day? While doing other things, we might suddenly think of last night’s TikToks, which distract our attention and create a negative cycle of repetitive behavior. The “happiness” brought to me by TikTok yesterday wasn’t really happiness. Reading a book, an article or going into the world chatting with a stranger might be boring at the moment, but afterwards I always enjoyed the learning process. That’s why our social media apps are no longer “Social”. They are dementors, draining people’s souls, leaving us with no feelings of happiness and joy, only apps are real and we seem to forget their existence.

Using the 30-Day method, I deleted 27 apps over the past 2 years, including TikTok, Weibo, Facebook, Whatsapp, and QQ.

📇 Alternatives: What do I use if not those?

Deleting apps “aggressively” doesn’t mean I’m entirely against the use of social media or technology. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t have started this blog. While I prefer face-to-face chat, it’s undeniable that technology, including online communication, offers many possibilities for our lives. Therefore, the software I’ve deleted isn’t solely because they’re social media apps, but because they possess features that social media software shouldn’t have. And these functions have extended beyond the communication purposes of the apps, affecting our minds.

In addition to face-to-face chatting, another way of communication I often use is email. Email offers plenty benefits, the two most important being that its non-immediate nature allows us time to think before acting. This contrasts with the impulsive and often illogical results while using social media. Additionally, social media’s addictive nature makes me constantly want to check for updates, even when there’s nothing. Since I typically don’t handle emails on my phone and often set specific times to deal with messages, it helps reduce interruptions caused by social media apps.

In addition to email, I eventually decided to use telegram as my daily IM (Instant messaging) app. And I usually decide if an IM is good for daily use based on:

  • Is it “pure” (only contains chat-related functions) or not?
  • Does it contains ads?
  • Does it requires a large number of device permissions?
  • What messaging features does it have (i.e. voice and video calling, voice messaging, file transfering, etc.)?
  • What platforms does it support?
  • What’s the proportion of people using it? What’s the scale of its user base?

and also some advanced functions, mostly privacy-focused:

  • Does it have MFA (Multi-factor authentication)?
  • Does it have E2EE (End-to-end encryption)?
  • Which country is the company that made it based in?
  • Where does it store its data? Where are the servers located?
  • Is it open-source?

After the mess of deleting almost all the software I have on my phone, it becomes quite simple. I can basically organize all the communications through either email, Telegram, or in-person.

Going back to the quote at the beginning, our society won’t get better on its own. The only question is: what are we willing to give up?

🫧 Extra: 什么! 你居然不用微信?

在以上所有我停用的平台中,几乎所有都是通过删除账号的方式操作的,除了一个,微信。我没有注销微信的账号,为什么它能"幸免"?

其实在我所有过去几年内停用的平台中,微信是我最早一批停用的。在2年前我刚开始停用微信的时候,我首先关闭了发现页中所有的功能,我的发现页直到今天都是这样的:

All features on my wechat discovery page are turned off

All features on my wechat discovery page are turned off

随后我便开始整理通讯录。期间由于微信的机制,我多次收到了操作频繁的警告。

Warnings from Weixin (Wechat) Team

Warnings from Weixin (Wechat) Team

之后又陆陆续续的将我的微信记录进行了清理,这样操作完之后微信基本上对我来说也就只是一块砖了,这也就暂时没有再注销它的必要了。除此之外还有一个原因就是中国环境对于微信的依赖,之前有次回国尝试了一下如果不用微信会怎么样,那次简单测试下来的结果就是: 可以正常生活,但是重重受阻。

因此微信还在我手机中的唯一理由就是: 扫码和使用各类小服务。

“什么! 你居然不用微信?",这个问题从我停用微信到现在已经被问了无数遍了。

平时基本上只要遇到首次见面的中国人,一个必问的问题就是: “你好,可以加个微信吗?"。而每当听到我回: “不好意思,我不用微信。“的时候,对方都是一脸震惊。

如今的中国社会存在着一个很有意思的现象: 如果你出门,你就不应该没有微信; 如果你有工作,你就不应该没有微信; 如果你有家人、亲戚,你就不应该没有微信。当整个社会都围着微信转,当我们过度依赖于某个东西的时候,我们或许就应该去思考,它到底对我们有哪些影响? 它真的是完美无缺吗?


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