Lately, we’ve been noticing a trend that really seems to be catching on: People are switching up their daily technological routines, and finding out some interesting things about tech—and themselves—in the process. Someone “Liked” everything they saw on Facebook for a few days, only to see his entire profile transform. One reporter replied to every PR email they received, and the results were hilarious. Elsewhere, somebody decided to right-swipe (“Like”) everyone he saw on Tinder—and ended up with 800 compatible matches.
There’s something to be gained from all of these “Tech Diets,” whether it’s a boost to self-esteem, or a deep dive into the inner-workings of your favorite social media platform. In the interest of boosting your own insights—and maybe even bettering yourself in the process—here are seven technological diets that you should try on for size.
1. The “DumbPhone” Diet
Imagine it now: A phone without apps. If we’re being completely honest, it kind of looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Where’s all the functionality?
The dumbphone diet is not for the faint of heart, but it’s customizable, and a great building block for creating other experimental tech diets. Want to go completely bare-bones and use your phone only as a phone for a week? Try it out. How about allowing access to only a few apps, like the camera, calculator and note-taking tools? Whatever approach you take, the “DumbPhone” diet is a great way to add a bit of minimalist Zen to your technological lifestyle.
2. The Messenger Detox
The Challenge: Go a week without relying on an IM platform.
What did we do before Skype, or Adium, or AIM, or any other instant messenger, for that matter? By taking a week off from messaging platforms, you can develop some great perspective on workplace communication that doesn’t rely on technology. In some cases, communicating without a messenger will be impossible, but in every other situation it’s a great way to collaborate with co-workers face-to-face.
3. The “Uber of” Diet
The Challenge: Use at least one Uber-type app every day for an entire week.
The “Instant Gratification Economy” is everywhere. People are offering on-demand car rides, same-day bike messenger deliveries—even pizza—all at the touch of a button. But how well is this new trend working, and can it actually make your life easier? When you take on the “Uber of Life” Diet, you let go of your everyday responsibilities and put it all in the hands of newfangled app-based services. You use Washio to do your laundry, Rewinery to deliver your booze, Breather to give you a private place to work. There’s a new “Uber of” service popping up every day, so it should be no problem finding a few to rely on for the course of a week or two.
You may have to download a ton of specialized apps for this tech diet, but by using instant gratification apps in your daily life, you might just find a few services that you can’t live without.
4. Social Media Supercharge
The Challenge: Use hashtags, @ mentions and images in every single social media post for a week.
Here’s an interesting A/B test idea for you: For every new Social Media post you create, add on a couple hashtags and mentions. After a couple weeks of implementing these in every post, compare your likes, follows, retweets, etc. to what they looked like before this effort. In addition to getting more visibility for your posts, it also encourages use of social media as something other than a soapbox. In other words, it’s a good way to start making your Social Media more… social.
5. The GPS Diet
The Challenge: Explore your surroundings—stop using navigation apps for an entire week.
Apps change the way we interact with the world around us, but nowhere is that more apparent than it is when we use navigation apps on our smart devices. Why explore when you can always know exactly where you are, and exactly where you’re going? For a few weekends, forget about your Maps app and just go out. Take a train ride to an area you’ve always wanted to explore.
Sure, it’s great to find a place everyone else seems to love, but there’s nothing better than finding your own little dream restaurant without any outside recommendations.
6. The “Stack” Game
One of the times where technology can prove most invasive is in a group setting. Without fail, there are always a couple people in the group who are constantly looking down at their phones. If you’re out at a dinner, try playing the “stack” game. The rules are simple: Everyone puts their phones in a big stack at the middle of the table, and nobody’s allowed to pick them up until the meal is over. It’s a nice way to bring a little disconnection into group settings—and is also a great conversation-starter.
7. The Source Diet
The Challenge: Only use one online news source for an entire week. Bonus points if your source is a social media platform.
Social Media can be a great source for news. Twitter provides updates by the second, Facebook (ostensibly) shows you the news that matters to people you’re close to. But what happens when social media becomes your only source of news? In the “Source” diet, you choose one social network—preferably a news-heavy one—and only use that as a news source. No visiting the Times’ website or picking up magazines, this is all about keeping afloat in the big sea of information.
This tech diet would also be an interesting way to think about how the people in our networks might affect the way we view more widespread issues. If you take on this monstrous diet, keep these things in mind, and be sure to let us know how it works out.
We’ve tried a few of these out here at Icreon, but we’re curious to see how they’ve worked out for you. Did you give any of these a shot? If so, what did you end up learning? Let us know in the comments below.