At the end of the nineties, my most prized possession was a Game Boy Color that went with me everywhere and was always in my thoughts. Sitting on the toilet bowl – where no one could interrupt me – I took my Pikachu to the top of the Pokémon league and traveled to the last corner of Hyrule. The close bond with the little machine was soon used by my parents as a form of punishment. So I looked for her in the confines of my house, in as many drawers and cupboards as I could open. And, punishment by punishment, I was distancing myself from her. Twenty years later I still don’t know exactly where they were hiding it, but one thing’s for sure: it was locked up.
If we have the hypnotic influence of social networks, our increasing dependence on applications such as Google Maps or instant messaging platforms, it is expected that the intervention of a superior force will be necessary to reduce the 4.2 hours a day that, according to App Annie, we invest in our phones. Some choose to use minimalist mobiles with no other functions than making and receiving calls. Others use airplane mode to build a wall between their devices and the internet. The emerging company (startup) Dutch Unpluq proposes to recover the forcefulness of the lock and entrust the mission to a tiny yellow pendrive designed to connect to the charging port and turn the phone into an inhospitable place, deprived of color and access to the applications that confuse us the most. “Less distraction, more life,” reads the company’s motto.
The device is compatible with almost all Android phones that incorporate USB type C. To get Unpluq up and running, simply install your app In addition, create an account and configure the type of blocking that we want: the tool itself makes an initial proposal of potentially distracting applications, but the user can customize them. I selected the instant messaging, social networks and those that tend to pester me with non-urgent notifications throughout the day.
Made the adjustments, my mobile is reborn with two new personalities. In concentration mode, without the key connected, the blocked applications and their notifications are not visible and all icons are displayed in black and white. In normal mode, with the key connected, the color returns and the banished contents are enabled again. In both scenarios, the catalog of installed applications shows under the logos the time that has been invested in each of them throughout the day and a summary of statistics is also available with the applications that have been used and the time dedicated to the mode. concentration and normal.
If I leave WhatsApp open and disconnect the key, a black screen gets between me and my conversations to remind me that this application is among those that distract me and tease me with phrases of famous people that change every day. “Distraction wastes our energy, concentration restores it,” writer Sharon Salzberg once said.
I will never love an electronic device as much as I loved my Game Boy, but when my phone has my attention, the outside world disappears. If someone addresses me, they are probably trying to answer like someone who speaks in a dream, but I don’t hear anything. If I was doing something, I forget it and need several seconds or third party help to remember my original plans. If I don’t have other tasks that cannot be postponed, I can chain to the fire of that screen spinning WhatsApp conversations, browsing Wikipedia or watching a whole season of a series … And then another.
Although I am fully aware of these weaknesses, nothing is as revealing as seeing myself portrayed in Unpluq’s statistics the day I got my hands on Netflix and I spent 46% of the day –7 hours and a half– looking at my mobile. That awareness is key for its creators. With the key acting as a keeper, consulting the telephone is no longer a practically involuntary movement. When we look at the device and discover that WhatsApp and other common suspects are not available, we are forced to decide if we really need to access them. In most cases the result of my deliberations was to leave it for another time.
This is not to say that Unpluq is a necessary device for anyone with a mobile phone. Everyone decides what relationship they want to establish with their phone. In my case, this little key helps me review and hopefully restructure my habits. In addition, avoid resorting to more drastic strategies such as the minimalist mobile, which entails giving up services that definitely make our lives more comfortable, such as the camera, GPS, access to email or the simple reading of QR codes. The experiment is also cheaper: Unpluq costs 29.95 euros.
Although the tangible nature of Unpluq is one of its main advantages, having a physical key opens the door to the ancient threat of losing it or leaving it behind when leaving the house. The hood of the device incorporates a ring that would allow it to be attached to a key ring to make it more visible. And in case of emergency, the application incorporates the possibility of deactivating the lock for five minutes once a day. If the device is definitely missing, the startup Dutch explains in your page the steps to pick the lock and return the phone to its original condition.