Smart home, smart phone, dumb me

I’ve owned an iPhone since day one. I’ve started a mobile app company. I presently exchange my time for money at a company that was founded on mobile apps. I use my iPhone quite a bit. It’s a smart phone.

Elise’s parents gave us a Google Home for Christmas this year. Now we’ve forayed into the world of having a smart home. After setting up the Google Home, I immediately started shopping for other things that could make my life easier and my home smarter. This was, of course, after I connected the Google Home to our Nest thermostat. Now I just have to say, “Okay, Google. Turn the temperature down to 72.” And the air conditioner magically switches on and the house gets cooler. The alternative to this would be me taking approximately 16 steps and adjusting the thermostat with my fingertips. I soon thereafter went out and bought a Chromecast because I wanted to tell Google Home to do things with the television. I don’t know what those things are yet. Change the channel? Turn up the volume? Make the President-elect’s head less bigly?

It was at the point where I found myself on the cusp of signing up for a waiting list where I could eventually buy three lightbulbs for $199 when my lightbulb came on and I thought to myself, “this is dumb.” These light bulbs can communicate with Google Home. I could tell Google Home to dim the lights. Or change the color of the lights to “Celeste Polvere.”

All of these things are things we don’t really need. The gadgets and tech and automation are cool, but they’re not really adding immediate value to our family’s life. Yet. Maybe I’ll play around some more with Google Home and figure out what kind of value it brings before investing in any more gadgets. In the meantime, Google Home is used mostly by the kids to ask, “Okay, Google. What sound does a dog make?” And then it barks. And then the dog runs to the door and growls. And then the kids laugh and do it all over again. Google Home will probably be the reason why the dog sets the house on fire because she conked out from exhaustion with a lit cigarette in her mouth.

Earlier this week and old friend of mine posted something on Facebook that raised my brows. I didn’t know this about her, but she consciously removed her smartphone from her life unless the phone was necessary. She placed the phone in its place at home and at work. It wasn’t at her side, or in her pocket, or in her purse, readily available. And she always kept it silenced, meaning that there were no notifications with chiming distractions that beckoned for immediate attention. She also posted a link to this article from the Minimalists.

After reading my friend’s post, and then the article she shared, I pulled out my phone and just started deleting apps. Most notably, Facebook and Instagram. And then I went through all of my other apps and just started deleting the ones that I hadn’t used, as well as the ones that I thought I might use at some point in the future, but after asking, “really, Josh?” they got the boot.

I like to think I was pretty good about keeping my phone pocketed. Now I’m confident that I’m good at keeping it pocketed because it’s not longer a device of distractions. I’m looking up. I’m engaged with people, notably my family and friends. I know I’m not missing anything on social media. Especially while I’m standing at the urinal.

I wonder if I could get Google Home to flush the toilet.