Issue 08: "Absolute unmixed attention is prayer"
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Issue 08: Prayer as Digital Detox, #SocialMediaStrike and Going Light

Happy mid-July, all. This week, we look at how prayer can be the best way to digital detox, how the Wikipedia founder's #SocialMediaStrike went, and we discuss going light with Light Phone founder and artist Joe Hollier.
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Prayer: the best way to take a digital detox?

French activist, mystic and philosopher Simone Weil once wrote that 'absolute unmixed attention is prayer'. Most religions have structure for time in which attention is turned inwards, for quiet reflection or stillness—the National Day of Unplugging has links to the Sabbath Manifesto, a 'creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.'

No matter your own religious beliefs, this reflective essay from Vox on how prayer helped this writer digital detox is thought provoking: "Prayer is the ability to say no to the demands of technology; to silence my devices, close my office door, and recite the afternoon service. It is a brief taste of Sabbath slipped into the frenzy of the day-to-day; it allows me to put everything aside and turn away from screens to paper."

It makes one think: what is more important than work? Is anything more meaningful than the messages coming from your phone? Is social media undermining religion?

Wikipedia founder's "social media strike"

While you may have been celebrating summer with BBQs over the past holiday weekend, you also may have noticed the #socialmediastrike that occurred on July 4th and 5th.

Started by Wiki founder Larry Sanger, he wanted to time the detox and his Digital Declaration of Independence with our own fourth of July. This declaration of digital independence has been covered by the press before, but while the strike was widely discussed on Reddit, those who responded to the call may have been a self-selecting group, as there are only 286 Instagram posts with the same hashtag. 

While this first strike may have been small, this may be the start of a revolution to stop from the abuse from Big Tech, as "humanity has been contemptuously used by vast digital empires". Only time will tell... 

Interview: Go Light With Joe Hollier

If you haven't heard of the Light Phone before, we highly recommend first taking a look at their Introducing the Smartphone campaign for a hilariously satirical look at modern phones.

Founded by Joe Hollier, The Light Phone came out of the least likely of places:  an experimental Google incubator for designers to create 'sticky apps'. He decided to do the opposite and created a phone designed to be used as little as possible. Read on more for our interview with Joe to find out more about Light Phone 2 and what's next.

Where’s your happy place?

It’s so hard to give just one place, I love the idea of happy places a lot and have quite a few personally. I think the idea of a happy place works well with the idea of going light. There is a beautiful excerpt from Joseph Campbell in the Power of Myth where he talks about the importance of having a ‘sacred place’.

He talks about it as simple as a room, or even a certain hour a day. It’s a place where you don’t know what was on social media or your not concerned about what your friends are doing, you aren’t thinking about what you ought to be doing, it’s just a place for you to simply be and sit with yourself and your thoughts. I’ve always loved the feeling of being home at my studio and carving out a long chunk of time to sort of just get lost, maybe I pick up my paints, maybe I just sit and listen to music, maybe I start reading. I

f you sit with yourself long enough something will happen, it’s a place for creativity.

What's your favorite way to get bored?
I think it’s usually just grabbing my film camera and heading out of the house with no plan or direction for a long walk. It’s about leaving space for spontaneity. I will often turn down streets because of how the light is shining. Maybe I check out a bookstore, maybe I run into a friend and have a conversation, maybe I just sit and listen to the birds. It’s a pretty therapeutic experience for me, the walking keeps a steady rhythm and keeps the blood flowing which all eases my anxiety, allowing me to get pretty lost with my thoughts. I guess it’s a happy place of mine.

What's next after The Light Phone II? 
I guess we feel that even launching Light Phone II this summer is only the beginning of it for our phone. For one we’ll be continuing to iterate of the software, adding additional tools and finessing the overall interface based on user feedback. I’m really interested in how our users will be using their phones, and would love to document and showcase some of that.

I’m also really interested in how Light as a brand can help the users after they take the step to go light. We’ve always stopped there so far, saying here is all of this time and space to do the things you love to do the most, but that can be quite overwhelming and daunting for many of our users we’ve learned.

Are there ways we can subtly encourage users and perhaps set them on their own paths? Be it learning a new language or instrument to developing a new hobby like gardening or photography; how can we help alleviate some of the initial anxiety that comes with leaving our smartphones today by directing that feeling into more sustainable, positive outlets?

"How can we help alleviate some of the initial anxiety that comes with leaving our smartphones today by directing that feeling into more sustainable, positive outlets?"

What tips would you offer our audience on how to have a healthier relationship with tech?
For me I’ve found it really helpful to first step away, like actually give yourself enough time away to start to even forget about it, and in that process replace those random free moments with other activities that are more meaningful and exciting to you.

I’ve been trying to learn piano, and when I find myself a little bored at my desk or with 20 minutes to kill before needing to go somewhere, I’ll turn around and practice for a little bit. Unlike if I had scrolled Instagram with that time, I leave the piano feeling accomplished, like I actually did something that I care about with that time. Maybe it’s reading books, watching documentaries, stretching, exercising, painting or even cleaning, pretty much anything you do with your time you’ll find leaves you feeling better than a social media hole. And, in doing it enough, you’ll naturally stop thinking about social media as much as you become instead more obsessed with something like the piano.

If I do find myself in holes now, it’s usually in learning about the history of various piano legends or in the forums of fellow piano nerds, which are in my mind, much healthier ways to use tech.

Thank you Joe!  If you're interested in lessening the burden of your phone, check out the Light Phone II. Thank you for reading and please feel free to email us your thoughts or feedback on what you see here!

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