Going grayscale

I recently got a new smartphone, as my old one gave up. During these past few months, it took a full minute to navigate to a Google Maps address, and could hardly fit more than 5 ‘modern’ applications.

So, after thinking about returning to a dumb phone for the second time, I gave in and bought a low-range Xiaomi. There are many quality-of-life improvements, but for me personally, the killer feature is Digital Wellbeing/Bedtime Mode, which I’m not using only for bedtime, but during the majority of my day.

Essentially, you can set a schedule during which your phone will be on Do-Not-Disturb mode (all calls and notifications except for alarm clock are silenced). It also turns your device display to Grayscale. There’s a handy shortcut to temporarily return to color for 30 minutes (eg. for a quick YouTube video), and then it’s back to mute-and-bw.

Here’s the Bedtime mode, plus how the lock screen and homepage look like.

And here’s some of my typical usage scenarios

Grayscale, huh?

I first heard of this idea from a friend who had just finished watching The Social Dilemma and was really enthusiastic to try it out.

After watching it myself, I learned about Tristan Harris, and I think that I agree with many of the things he’s advocating for.

I’m well aware of the addicting effect of smartphones, and even more self-aware of how I can become addicted to doomscrolling. The built-in Usage Data shows that grayscale does have some effect on lowering the time I’m using the phone each day. Right now, for the past few weeks, most of my ‘screen’ time was spend on reading books, which counts as a plus in my book (heh).

On your Mac

If you liked the idea, you may want to try it on your Mac as well. Press CMD+Option+F5, go to Accessibility Preferences, Display, Colour Filters, and enable it. Otherwise, check this StackExchange post on how to do it programmatically.

Parting Words

I’m not sure how this sounds; of course I don’t recommend that you turn your life into 40s-style BW television; but in cases where you understand that your devices are ruthless in stealing your attention, it’s a good tool to unconsciously fight back. All these websites and apps have an immense array of tools in their arsenal to maximize their usage, and have us watch more ads, to be honest.

It feels great to reclaim some of your headspace back; please don’t forget to make time for yourself and your loved ones!

Until next time, bye!


https://www.wired.com/story/grayscale-ios-android-smartphone-addiction/ https://www.wired.com/story/our-minds-have-been-hijacked-by-our-phones-tristan-harris-wants-to-rescue-them/

Written on March 23, 2021