Breaking the iPhone Addiction I Didn’t Think I Had: Notification Weaning

Badge App Icons


“How do you discern an addiction?” Richard Foster asks. “Very simply, you watch for undisciplined compulsions.”

I’d add, watch also for things that enable those compulsions.

If checking a tiny screen is a compulsion, notifications enable the habit.

In my case, I chose to delete Facebook off my phone altogether, but still having an account led me either to (a) check it through a mobile Web browser or (b) re-download the app to my phone. And Facebook for me, was not worth working toward the discipline of even limited interaction. Why not just be done with it and spend my time on other things? So I am finding other ways to stay in touch with the friends and family members that constituted my final reason for remaining on that platform.


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But I still experience a desire to check my phone–for something. I could never not have an email account, and I use text messaging too often to go back to a ground line alone. And I am out and about enough that Google Maps and Safari are useful to me when on the go.

What about notifications?

I was in the working world way too long before I realized that (a) you could turn off new email notifications in Microsoft Outlook and (b) you could close Outlook and open it only when you wanted to check email. I know. Novel ideas.

They apply to the phone, too. You don’t need email notifications on your phone–you can turn off sounds, lock screen notifications, and badge app icons, so that you only know if a new email comes in when you are checking at a designated time. That way you don’t have to resist the urge to see what new email just came in while you’re changing lanes on the highway! The compulsion-enabler that is a notification won’t even be there.

Same thing with text messages–it’s rare that you’ll receive an urgent cry for help via text or email, so make sure your phone ringer is on, and put some or all text messages on Do Not Disturb. You can still keep your badge app icon on, so that if you have gone a whole two hours without texting and can’t stand it anymore, you can simply look at the icon on your screen and see if you’ve gotten anything new. But we don’t really need a noise or vibration every time one comes in.

So, too, with other apps–I’m glad to know, Ebay, that there are new items available for bidding that match my saved search, but can’t it wait? That notification–whether it’s a banner or a badge app icon I MUST PROCESS AND CLEAR OUT–is unnecessary.


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If I may be so bold as to advise you, reader: allow yourself to go through your apps. Which ones do you really need notifying you there is something new, and which ones merely enable a compulsion to check your phone? And, most of all, relax–you can always pick up the phone to check anything you need to at any time. But with notifications at bay, you will start to experience the constant device checking less and less as an undisciplined compulsion.


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Stay tuned for more related confessions and reflections:

  • On Facebook, Off Facebook, On Twitter, Off Twitter… On Instagram
  • Taking Email Off Your Phone (Mostly)
  • Why I’m Taking the 16 GB iPhone Upgrade over 64 GB
  • Pre-Dinner, Child-Induced Frenzy and My Escape Screen
  • Analog Again

Breaking the iPhone Addiction I Didn’t Think I Had: Facebook

Facebook Checking
Dado Ruvic | Reuters


It took my quitting Facebook to realize I have an iPhone addiction.


I’ve quit Facebook in the past, signing off with an epic status (soon to disappear, of course) that detailed why I was leaving. It’s not you; it’s me… but also you. I wasn’t intending to be pietistic. It’s just that it’s difficult for the “Why I’m Quitting Facebook” line-in-the-sand not to come across as a little holier-than-thou.

So the last time I quit—and I trust it really is the last time—I didn’t comment on it. I don’t even remember if I had a “Here’s my email” post—I just sort of left.

I’d taken the Facebook app off my iPhone at least a dozen times—only to re-download it again within a few days each time. It’s so inefficient to look at a tiny, few-inch screen and just keep swiping through. I could see more of my News Feed (or whatever they call it now) way faster on a computer! But the phone was so handy, and the Facebook app—as poorly developed as it is—was just a-reach-into-the-pocket away.


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No, I didn’t go through Facebook withdrawal. That social media platform is actually pretty unremarkable, my wonderful friends and family members notwithstanding. It’s just that I was right back on my phone, now flicking through my Twitter feed.

If you read the tech pundits long enough, you’ll wonder: How is Twitter even in business anymore? But leaving Facebook made me latch on to that bizarre platform even more tightly.

It got even worse once I downloaded Tweetbot. (This is usually the point in my blog post where I give you an App Store affiliate link, on which I earn approximately 0.00000000000001% commission, but nobody needs to be on Twitter more, and the App Store is an enabler, so I eschew the hyperlink.)

Tweetbot allows you to set up adjacent columns, each of which can be a curated list of folks you follow on Twitter. How fun it (really) was to check out all my “Writing Implements” people on Twitter and see what they had to say about fountain pens. And my “App Developers” list? Those folks are hilarious—some of the best social commentary (especially about Twitter-the-company) that you’ll find anywhere.

But I had simply replaced Facebook with not-quite-but-still-kind-of-Facebook, and then started spending even more time on Twitter.


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The same process followed—delete Tweetbot off the phone, check it on the computer. Re-download it to my phone since I was accessing it on the computer anyway. Get frustrated with myself. Check Twitter to assuage the feelings of Twitter-induced guilt. Etc.

So I finally gave up browsing Twitter for Lent. Tweetbot is gone, and I only still have my Twitter handle because this blog automatically Tweets with a link to a new post. I’m otherwise not on it, for the most part.

“How do you discern an addiction?” Richard Foster asks. “Very simply, you watch for undisciplined compulsions.”

You know you’re addicted to your phone when you delete one social networking app and—within a day—your compulsion to just check something leads you to replace it with another.


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Stay tuned for more related confessions and reflections:

  • On Facebook, Off Facebook, On Twitter, Off Twitter… On Instagram
  • Notification Weaning
  • Why I’m Taking the 16 GB iPhone Upgrade over 64 GB
  • Pre-Dinner, Child-Induced Frenzy and My Escape Screen
  • Analog Again

6 Most-Visited Posts at Words on the Word

It’s been a quiet week at Words on the Word. Don’t worry–I’ve been working on some future posts, not the least of which is a review of the new Caspian record. In the meantime, just for fun, here are the top six posts that keep people coming back to the blog, based on traffic, in increasing order.

6. First Look at Logos 6: New Features and Screenshots

5. How to Read and Understand the Göttingen Septuagint: A Short Primer, part 1

4. Why did Jesus tell the disciples not to tell anyone about him?

3. Review of Sony SRS-BTS50 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

(I’ve got a review of Logitech’s new BOOM 2 coming soon….)

2. Bonhoeffer’s Last Words, Before He Was Hanged (70 Years Ago Today)

1. Which Bible software program should I buy? Comparison of BibleWorks, Accordance, and Logos

(This review is three years old, and could be updated to include the new versions of all three, but many of the comments still hold.)

More anon….

Words on the Word Cited in Brill Book on Digital Humanities

You Google yourself about every three months, too, right?

To my surprise, a few months ago I found that Words on the Word had been quoted in a Brill book about digital humanities in biblical studies. (Apparently “digital humanities” is an academic field in which this blog participates.)

Here is one of the citations:

WotW in Brill


Brill Digital HumanitiesThe book is called Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish and Early Christian Studies, edited by Claire Clivaz, Andrew Gregory, and David Hamidović. Words on the Word makes its appearance in the chapter called “The Seventy and Their 21st-Century Heirs. The Prospects for Digital Septuagint Research.”

The footnote in the image above cites this primer I wrote on the Göttingen Septuagint; part 2 of the primer also receives mention.

Here is the publisher’s description of the book:

Ancient texts, once written by hand on parchment and papyrus, are now increasingly discoverable online in newly digitized editions, and their readers now work online as well as in traditional libraries. So what does this mean for how scholars may now engage with these texts, and for how the disciplines of biblical, Jewish and Christian studies might develop? These are the questions that contributors to this volume address. Subjects discussed include textual criticism, palaeography, philology, the nature of ancient monotheism, and how new tools and resources such as blogs, wikis, databases and digital publications may transform the ways in which contemporary scholars engage with historical sources. Contributors attest to the emergence of a conscious recognition of something new in the way that we may now study ancient writings, and the possibilities that this new awareness raises.

You can find the book at Brill here and here at Amazon. Looks fun! But, of course, now I’m biased.

From the Study… Books for Sale

Last weekend I built a sandbox; this weekend I’m cleaning up the study. I have a few books I’m trying to unload. Contact me here if you’re interested.


Simplified Guide to BHS (Hebrew Bible)
(Scott, 1990 Second Edition, includes Ruger’s English Key to Latin Words, bound together), hard to find in print. One page has writing, but is helpful to understanding text. Previous owner’s name inside front cover; sticker residue on back (slight).


Hand Concordance to Greek NTHandkonkordanz zum Griechischen Neuen Testament (English and German)
Super-handy small concordance to Greek New Testament… I just don’t have use for it recently. See reviews at Amazon link here. Good to Very Good condition (sticker on back, some regular wear, but clean inside and strong binding).


Seow Hebrew GrammarC.L. Seow’s Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (1987)
Pencil notations throughout (one page pen), otherwise great condition. Old sticker on back.


The increasingly hard-to-find NIV Triglot Old Testament
Yes, English, Greek and Hebrew. It’s a big and impressive-looking hardback. Really good condition. Name inside front cover. No markings that I’m aware of. No dust cover (but you were just going to take that off as soon as you got it anyway, right?).


Behold, the Triglot
Behold, the Triglot


Spurgeon Treasury of DavidSpurgeon’s 3-Volume Treasury of David
Commentary on the Psalms, hardcover (green dust jackets). Hardly used, in great shape. One volume has a small coffee splash on page edges. Not a set of books I’d normally want to part with, but I have it electronically now.


Bonhoeffer Fiction from Tegel PrisonDietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 7 (Fiction from Tegel Prison)
Hardcover. Brand new, still in shrink wrap.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 9 (The Young Bonhoeffer, 1918-1927)
Hardcover. Still in original shrink wrap. Just a tiny bit of bumping to spine edges, one corner ever-so-slightly dinged.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 10 (Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931)
Hardcover. Dust jacket, page edges, and corners show some wear/bumping, but not much. Insides unmarked, never used.


Interested? Contact me here to inquire.


New Blog Font Installed

I’ve just set Words on the Word to a new font. You’ll see it as you are reading this post and moving through the site.

What do you think? Feedback is welcomed. I’m going for bigger (last font was pretty small) and easily readable/skimmable.

You can see a preview of the new font in the image below, or click on the image to go to that original post and see the font in action.


new blog font

4 Biblical Studies eBooks on Sale for Less than $3

Right now there are four good-to-own biblical studies books on sale for less than $3 (and two of these are less than $2).

fee and stuart

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Fee and Stuart), $1.99 on Kindle (here). I’ve read this, though it’s been some time now. Solid book.

Evans DSS

Holman QuickSource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls (Craig A. Evans), $2.99 on Kindle (here). I just got this–haven’t read it yet, but flipping through, it looks like a great introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Surprised By Hope

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (N.T. Wright), $1.99 on Kindle (here) and iBooks (here). I haven’t read this (I know! I need to get on it) but several folks have highly recommended it to me.

Kruse Romans

Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Pillar Commentary Series), Colin G. Kruse, $2.99 on Kindle (here). The couple times I’ve used this have led me to think this is a good resource.

(This blog participates in the Amazon Associates Program, so any purchase from Amazon that comes from a link on this site sends a small percentage of the purchase price to upkeep and maintenance for Words on the Word.)