Are two phones are better than one?

What if the solution to smartphone addiction is … two phones? 

George Mack, who calls himself “WiFi Pirate” on Twitter with 264K followers, fixed his smartphone addiction with what he calls the Cocaine-Kale Protocol. 

His Kale phone provides bare-bones essentials: notes, Kindle, Uber, Maps  and an emergency number for two-three people. His Cocaine phone is wide open: Twitter. Instagram. TikTok. WhatsApp. Anyone can contact him.

Mack adds self-imposed limits: He doesn’t check his Cocaine phone until 12pm on weekdays and 2pm on weekends. Otherwise it’s in a drawer. 

The all-or-nothing smartphone paradox

I have to applaud his resourcefulness to what he calls the smartphone paradox:

Phone addict – Glued to phone constantly.

Phoneless luddite – No access to the best technology of this century so far.

You either burn out or miss out.

There it is again, FOMO, the fear of missing out controlling our behavior and our lives.

Like your cocaine dealer following you around

To argue whether the Kale-Cocaine Protocol is right or wrong is missing the point. It works for him and apparently many others. What’s fascinating to me is how this all-or-nothing thinking reveals the gap – he doesn’t see anything else to fill the void when he considers quitting his smartphone addiction. 

He recognizes the triggers, saying the Kale phone is “full stack serotonin” and the Cocaine is “full stack dopamine.” In other words, he’s saying the Kale phone induces feelings of happiness and calm and the Cocaine phone brings temporary pleasure.

The Kale Phone resets your baseline.

Your Cocaine phone feels too intense after 60 minutes per day. You start to crave the Kale phone

My guess is Mack is a Digital Native – 35 years old or younger who grew up with screens as his primary reality. So the logical solution to him is a screen, in this case a device, solution. When asked the obvious question on Twitter: “Isn’t it simpler to just adjust the focus settings on iphone and limit app usage?” he replied:

Whenever I tried this, I failed. 1. I knew the password so would just unlock it 2. More important point – Your brain still knows it is there. So it ticks away eating your subconscious RAM. It’s like having your cocaine dealer follow you around.

How to fill the cold-turkey cocaine void

What fills the void? You can likely guess my answer — full stack Nature. 

Start replacing that Cocaine time with time outdoors – sunshine, clouds, trees, wind, rain. The endlessly fascinating fractals in dandelions, ferns, leaves, stream ripples, mountain ridges, butterfly wings. Nature is the one worldwide constant that is greater than screen reality, more awe-inspiring and wonder-inducing – if given time, open attention and intention. 

When all else fails, Nature is always there for you, always ready, always nourishing.

I, for one, am thrilled to have Nature following me around, feeding my soul and triggering my creativity. I have no need to control it, limit it or hide it in a drawer.

I’ll hazard another guess. This gentleman, who sounds self-aware and intelligent, could likely be a person who would benefit, even need, a cut-the-cord, cold turkey, full Nature-immersion digital-detox experience. It might feel like shock therapy.

Meaning and memories are rarely made online

My hope is he’s spending the time he’s reclaimed from the Cocaine phone to build meaningful offline experiences and memories – taking long walks, deepening his relationships, involved in thoughtful deep work and doing satisfying work with his hands. 

We make connections online, but we rarely make meaning or memories online. 

Get away from your phone and make some meaning this week.

3 Resources for You

Meet the Gen Z founder who wants to save you from a life of smartphone distraction Another innovative Digital Native has created the Brick, a physical intervention for your phone. He gets it: “I’ve noticed that I’ve started to appreciate the real world more.” Shout out to Kelly for sharing this link. 

Just log off Seriously. Log off the social media accounts that suck you in. The simple act of having to log in again – especially if you use a password manager – can be enough friction to help you step back. 

Get Cold Turkey Built-in discipline, no data collection, one-time purchase. A friend swears it helped her break the spell and now she’s no longer tempted.

2 Questions for You

Reflections, questions and ideas to break the digital spell.

1st Q: Do you resonate with the Cocaine phone? How does that feel?

2nd Q: What if you switched your one-and-only phone to a Kale phone, and moved other apps to your tablet or desktop? How would you feel about that?

Hit reply and let me know what you discovered this week. I’ll use some of your feedback in next week’s newsletter (first name only.)

Reflection Feedback

From Mich: (on a system for managing your inbox)

How I manage my email at a high level is that every year in January, I blanket delete anything that’s over 12 months old. If I need the info, I will find it somehow. I’ve been doing this for seven years and have yet to encounter an issue with lost info, as I’ve usually dealt with it in some way if I deemed it was important at the time I received it.

That said, I have a separate email for subscriptions and there are currently over 7000 unread emails in that subscription inbox! It is long overdue a massive clean out and unsubscribe. The task feels monumental but I know I’ll feel better once done because digital clutter causes stress just as much as physical clutter does. So, I appreciate your prompt to get started.

What I like about having a separate email for subscriptions is that I can dip into it if I choose. I don’t really want to have to go somewhere else like a reader app to read this stuff, because I know I won’t. (I’ve tried and unfortunately it doesn’t work for me).  🙂

1 Action for You

One small step to start the change.

Let’s play a game for a week. Check the screen time for your phone apps. Then (gulp) delete the biggest time suck. (You won’t die.)

Hit reply, let me know how it goes and I’ll include feedback in next week’s newsletter.

Nature View

“Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.” – L. Wolfe Gilbert