The Third Alternative

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In an age when technology is touching more and more aspects of your life, you have to start wondering whether you are the programmer or the programmed. Who holds the reins in your relationship with technology?

I often leave my iPhone behind when I walk my dog. I do it on purpose because I don’t want to be distracted. Without even thinking about it, my hand reaches for my pocket, looking for the ever-present iPhone. I see an interesting landscape and my mind automatically thinks I should take a photo with my iPhone. I think of a friend or relative and I want to reach for the phone to message them.

I believe companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, etc. know this fully well, and I am starting to believe that they are no longer in the business of creating devices that help us in life, but rather they are building frameworks where we are being programmed to become more and more dependant on their hardware and software.

When is the last time you drove somewhere without the help of Google Maps? When is the last time you used a camera to take photos, and not your smartphone? Do you still wear a regular watch, or have you embraced the tracking handcuff of Apple, Samsung, Garmin, and Google? Can you go one year without ordering something on Amazon? What about one month?

I have an Apple Watch, and I go through phases of love and hate for the device. I stop using it when I feel like it’s too distracting or too needy. I dislike having to charge it every day. A regular watch can go for years on one battery! This needy Apple tracker needs too much of my attention for me to tolerate it for more than a few weeks at a time. I quickly tire of it and go back to a regular watch, or no watch at all. Recently, upon switching back to a regular watch, I realized I was always using the Apple Watch to check the weather. I repeated that behaviour so many times that I catch myself trying to check the weather on my regular watch too! Apple successfully programmed me to look for the weather conditions on my wrist.

Recently, Apple added some new functionality to the iPhone and Apple Watch. A Journal app was introduced on the iPhone, and both devices now allow users to log their daily mood or mental state. By collecting mental state data from these two sources, Apple will be able to start predicting what makes each user happy and what makes them sad, which in turn will empower Apple to create even more products that will seem to know us better than we know ourselves.

My approach is to be careful with these technologies. I make a point of taking extended breaks from gadgets like the Apple Watch, and I try to be mindful of my screen time on devices like the iPhone, iPad, and computers. It’s so easy to be swept away by the dopamine-infused wave of technology. It’s up to each individual to pause and take control of their tech, or risk being used by their devices as a data point for others to profit.

©️ Razvan Ungureanu


With Apple's latest iOS update, the company launched a new app: Journal. If you are familiar with Apple, you know they don't release new apps very often, and when they do they integrate them well with the rest of the Apple ecosystem. Journal is no different. Apple wants to encourage people to focus on wellbeing, and journaling is a good way to become more mindful and to gain an outlet for your thoughts and feelings. With new year's resolutions, the launch of Journal was timed perfectly for anyone looking to give this practice a shot in 2024.

Apple's new Journal app icon.


Last week, as I was driving by a local mall, I noticed that something new had popped up. It's called the Museum of Failure, and it's a temporary exhibit showcasing failed products over the past 50 or so years. I was intrigued by this. It sounded fun, and it seemed like a place where I could take some interesting photos.

I came back armed with my camera and my wallet. The admission fee was $20, and I was advised to download the app that goes hand in hand with the museum. I did download it – only because it did not collect any personal information – but I did not use it much. More about that later.


Video games are one of the most common hobbies these days, but they are no longer a good option for me. I focused my last two posts on the negative relationship I have had with video games, and on how I've stopped playing them. This time, I'd like to switch to a more positive tone and focus on the positive changes I noticed since I stopped playing games. As usual, I'd like to state that these are just my opinions, and I'm not an expert. What works for me might not work for you.


While many people can have a healthy relationship with video games, I find I cannot. To me, video games have become similar to a slot machine disguised as digital entertainment. Gamers will argue that not all games are addictive; that some are just stories and playing them is no different than watching a movie where you choose the outcome and you play the hero. The same gamers will also typically agree that some games are, indeed, very addictive. These are games designed to get you hooked from the get-go, through the use of in-game currencies, loot boxes, and competitive ranking systems that make you want to get better and better with little reward.


As I embark on another attempt to expel video games from my life, I feel the task is monumental. Even the thought of writing about it is so daunting that I had trouble getting started. So, I decided to break it down into smaller chunks! Welcome to the first chapter!

I've been a gamer since I was a kid, but I'll skip the life story this time. Now in my mid-thirties, I decided it's time to kick the habit. You might think: “Why is this guy talking about video games like some sort of addiction?” I challenge anyone who plays video games daily to take a break for one week (or one month if you're brave) and let me know if you still think they are not similar to any other addiction.


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