If you’ve ever wanted help detangling your own technology use, we’d like to recommend a book that could make a big difference. We caught up with author Pete Dunlap, who told us about his book Digital Detangler: A Guide to Mindful Technology Use.
Tell us about your book Digital Detangler.
Digital Detangler was written to spread awareness of both the unacknowledged impact compulsive technology use has on users and provide readers with tons of tools and strategies for rebuilding a digital environment that promotes focus while limiting distraction.
What inspired you to write Digital Detangler?
I had read an incredible amount of books and articles about digital wellness. I listened to podcasts and interviewed experts. Throughout that process, I was consistently disappointed with the lack of practical advice to someone who is ready to take back control over their relationship with tech. While the problem had become clear, it felt like the most practical advice was often, "tweet mindfully."
Having been a software engineer, I have a strong bias toward giving people useful information that they can apply quickly. My deepest fear is that I'll be influential or entertaining but no one will change the way they use technology. Writing a book focused on a path to the balanced use of technology is my attempt to avoid that fate.
Tell us about the nine modules your book presents.
The first thing I did when I started Digital Detangler was post on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in spending less time on Facebook. [Editor’s note: Ha!]I got a response within minutes and built a nine-module course based on the idea that you can't fix everything at once. Taking time to learn about and work on the different aspects of technology is important.
The first couple of modules are focused on understanding how you use technology and how you might motivate yourself to change those patterns. The third and fourth modules tackle social media and focusing without distraction. Five and six are all about using technology more efficiently and leveraging that to spend more time in purposeful leisure. Module seven provides an overview of the information security and data privacy measures you can take to protect your digital footprint. Eight and nine close by sharing techniques for reshaping your browser and build mindfulness and gratitude practices into your schedule. Once I decided to write the book, it became immediately clear that the course and book should closely track with one another.
How do you see your book contributing value to the mindful technology community?
I hope that the book presents folks in the mindful technology community with a viable alternative to what often feels like a stark choice between trashing technology or losing yourself in it. That said, I care deeply about real changes in the way community members spend time. If becoming more mindful about technology use saves you 5 minutes a day, that feels like a failure to me. I am a big believer in people's potential to transform themselves when they are sufficiently motivated.
How do you personally create a tech / life balance?
I have zero trust in my ability to resist technology so I've spent a lot of my time making it more boring and harder to access. I use an Android phone and laptop with RescueTime installed which gives me a weekly report about how much time I'm spending and where it is being spent.
I also use grayscale on my phone to keep it from being too interesting and don't have any social media apps on it. On my laptop, I limit my connection to the internet at the beginning of my day with Cold Turkey, and a year and a half ago, I removed images from my internet browser.
What can we expect next from you and how can people follow along?
If people want to reach out, I recommend connecting with me on LinkedIn. I can also be reached through my website. (If you want to hear from me a couple times a month, I have a list you can add yourself to just below the contact form.)
You can find Pete’s book, Digital Detangler: A Guide to Mindful Technology Use right here!
All images from Digital Detangler.
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