Why I Turn My iPhone Notifications Off

image credit: instagram.com/ferdinandchoffray

image credit: Ferdinand Choffray

Even before our feet hit the ground, we’re under assault.

From the moment light peeks into our bedrooms and we awaken to the day, we face the ugly side of technology that slipped in along with the rest of its benefits. And we’ve done it to ourselves.

We’re being attacked by smartphone notifications.

3 Sides To Technology

There are three sides to every technological advance, every electronic discovery, and each leap forward we take with the computers overrunning our lives: what we hope it does, what it really does, and what it really costs us.

Alexander Graham Bell didn’t know the implications of the technology he developed into the telephone. Nikola Tesla dreamed of broadcasting information to a handheld device using certain frequencies, but didn’t live to see it blossom into reality. Alfred Nobel (of the Peace Prize fame) invented dynamite for blasting rock away from construction sites, but later regretted making a scientific contribution to modern warfare.

There’s a dark side to everything, and there’s an unpredictable side as well. What do these sides look like for the technology of smartphones?

Smartphone Subversion

We can know just about anything, just about any time.

I love that fact. And I also dread that fact.

Gone are the days when we had to wait to hear how Cousin Jake was doing on the opposite side of the country. Our astoundingly interconnected world has given us free reign to learn or do whatever we like with a device we carry in our pockets. There are great things about it and there are less than great things about it.

The iPhone is an amazingly useful tool. It aids my productivity, my leisure, my curiosity, my adventures, and my desire for connectivity. It helps me accomplish things. But it also has the potential to destroy what I want to accomplish.

It’s Not Worth It

I turn off almost all of my iPhone notifications because it’s not worth it. All the distractions of auxiliary apps clogging my attention pulls me out of the reality I’m living to tend to a digital task (checking the figurative box of “staying up to date”).

Turning off notifications is not really missing out on things so much as it’s refocusing on the most important things. You still want to catch up with all your new social media followers and retweets? Great. Wondering if your Amazon purchase shipped? You’ll know when you intentionally open the app and check the notifications, on your time, at your discretion. You are the boss; your smartphone is the perpetual office intern (I’m sure there’s an app somewhere that makes coffee).

Just because a new notification is there doesn’t mean it deserves your attention. We should make no apologies for being present in the moments we’re living, focusing first on the people we’re in the same room with and doing the work sitting in front of us.

The deciding question is not, “can I know about this right away?” but “do I need to know this right away?”

If it’s not urgent, why bother blowing up your phone with updates that are completely unnecessary to the functionality of your day? Try turning off most of your notifications. You’ll probably survive (and might even be a little relieved).

iPhone Notifications I Turn Off

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • All other social media apps
  • Mail
  • Music apps
  • Productivity apps
  • News & articles apps
  • Photo apps

iPhone Notifications I Leave On

OK, I admit: I do keep some notifications on because they’re actually time-sensitive communication channels. After all, I am using a smartphone. For phone calls, text messages, keeping a schedule, and remembering something at a certain point in the day.

  • Phone (duh)
  • Messages
  • Reminders
  • Calendar apps
  • Google Maps
  • Personal messaging apps

Bonus benefit to turning off iPhone notifications? Extended battery life because your phone’s not constantly searching for signal to push notifications.


What smartphone notifications do you keep on?


Read more about technology and society:
Community In The Digital Age
The Internet: Exchanging Appearance of Knowledge for Actual Wisdom?

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