Wasting Too Much Time on Your Phone? Tips to Regain Control—and Feel Better - Kanebridge News
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Wasting Too Much Time on Your Phone? Tips to Regain Control—and Feel Better

Spending hours each day scrolling social media can cause as much irritation as an overgrown lawn. But there’s a lot you can do to improve the experience.

Thu, May 23, 2024 9:23amGrey Clock 2 min

We don’t always realise how many hours we’re spending on social media, racking up excessive screen time, and how it’s affecting us. Yet the act of online scrolling through news or other content that makes one feel sad, anxious, angry or worse, has become so common, it’s been given a name: doomscrolling .

Even if you’re not ready to delete your social media apps, you can  take control  of how you use them. Instead of simply letting yourself track catastrophes on X, feel FOMO while watching your friends hang out without you on Instagram, compare your bodies to those of dancing TikTokers, or feel professional jealousy toward former co-workers on LinkedIn, try these tips.

Change How You Engage

Michelle Mouhtis, a licensed therapist and social worker based in Red Bank, N.J., who specialises in counselling millennials, says passive scrolling can quickly land you in a “compare and despair” trap.

Her advice: Be more deliberate with your content consumption. Rather than doomscrolling to avoid emotions, or put off sleep, devote screen time to learning a new skill via YouTube, more information about a topic you care about or connecting with a new community.

Curate Your Content

Carefully consider how the accounts you follow affect you. If the content you’re seeing triggers envy or a sense that you don’t measure up, know that most social media apps allow you to mute people and certain topics, stopping them from appearing entirely or a lot less frequently. You don’t even have to unfriend someone to avoid their content.

Track Your Timing

Get familiar with your phone’s “Screen Time” features. Most phones will provide data on how you use them, including the number of times you pick them up each day. Both Apple and Android users can set limits on your screen time for specific apps in the settings.

Although you can override the prompt that pulls the plug and keep scrolling, Mouhtis said the alert still helps. “Having that added step, where you have to manually allow another 15 minutes slows you down.”

Delete, Delete, Delete

Just because you’ve downloaded an app once, doesn’t mean it has to be on your home screen forever. If you find that using any given app at specific times of the year (like the holidays) triggers unhealthy thought loops, delete it from your phone. You can always download it again.

For apps you decide to keep, Mouhtis recommends turning notifications off. Your “likes” will still be there even if you aren’t notified of them in real time. You can also turn off all notifications by using the “Do Not Disturb” function.

Put the Phone Down

Much of social media engagement—Instagram “likes,” LinkedIn shares and the ping of a DM notification—cause our brains to produce dopamine. The chemical is associated with temporary bursts of pleasure, says Mouhtis, unlike serotonin, which is linked to longer-lasting feelings of happiness.

To avoid the chase of that high, take on things that make it physically impossible to scroll. Offline activities like cooking, crocheting, biking and rollerblading suit this purpose, but even an episode of a TV show, Mouhtis points out, ends eventually, unlike your TikTok or Instagram feeds’ infinite scroll.


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I.M. Pei was the confident visionary behind such transformative structures as the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, but he was also humble, and for years resisted a retrospective of his work.

Pei, a Chinese-American architect who died in 2019 at 102 , would always protest any suggestion of a major exhibition, saying, “why me,” noting, too, that he was still actively at work, recalls his youngest son, Li Chung “Sandi” Pei. A decade ago, when Pei was in his mid-to-late 90s, he relented, finally telling Aric Chen, a curator at the M+ museum in Hong Kong, “all right, if you want to do it, go ahead,” Sandi says.

A sweeping retrospective, “I.M. Pei: Life Is Architecture,” will open June 29 at M+ in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The exhibition of more than 300 objects, including drawings, architectural models, photographs, films, and other archival documents, will feature Pei’s influential structures, but in dialogue with his “social, cultural, and biographical trajectories, showing architecture and life to be inseparable,” the museum said in a news release.

As a Chinese citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1935 to learn architecture, Pei—whose full first name was Ieoh Ming—brought a unique cultural perspective to his work.

“His life is what’s really interesting and separates him from many other architects,” Sandi says. “He brought with him so many sensibilities, cultural connections to China, and yet he was a man of America, the West.”

Facade of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© South Ho Siu Nam

Pei’s architectural work was significant particularly because of its emphasis on cultural institutions—from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar—“buildings that have a major impact in their communities,” Sandi says. But he also did several urban redevelopment projects, including Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan and Society Hill in Philadelphia.

“These are all places for people,” Sandi says. “He believed in the importance of architecture as a way to bring and celebrate life. Whether it was a housing development or museum or a tall building or whatever—he really felt a responsibility to try to bring something to wherever he was working that would uplift people.”

A critical juncture in Pei’s career was 1948, when he was recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (where he received a master’s degree in architecture) by New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf.

With Zeckendorf, Pei traveled across the country, meeting politicians and other “movers and shakers” from Denver and Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. “He became very adept at working in that environment, where you had to know how to persuade people,” Sandi says.

During the seven-year period Pei worked with Zeckendorf, the developer fostered the growth of his architecture practice, supporting an office that included urban, industrial, graphic, and interior designers, in addition to architects and other specialists, Sandi says.

When Pei started his own practice in 1955, “he had this wealth of a firm that could do anything almost anywhere,” Sandi says. “It was an incredible springboard for what became his own practice, which had no parallel in the profession.”

According to Sandi, Chinese culture, traditions, and art were inherent to his father’s life as he grew up, and “he brought that sensibility when he came into America and it always influenced his work.” This largely showed up in the way he thought of architecture as a “play of solids and voids,” or buildings and landscape.

“He always felt that they worked together in tandem—you can’t separate one from the other—and both of them are influenced by the play of light,” Sandi says.

View of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the mesa, in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© Naho Kubota

Pei also often said that “architecture follows art,” and was particularly influenced by cubism, an artistic movement exploring time and space that was practiced in the early 20th century by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, among others. This influence is apparent in the laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. “Those two buildings, if you look at them, have a play of solid and void, which are very cubistic,” Sandi says.

Yet Sandi argues that his father didn’t have a specific architectural style. Geometry may have been a consistent feature to his work, but his projects always were designed in response to their intended site. The resulting structure emerged as almost inevitable, he says. “It just was the right solution.”

Pei also intended his buildings “not only to be themselves a magnet for life,” but also to influence the area where they existed. “He never felt that a building stood alone,” Sandi says. “Urban design, urban planning, was a very important part of his approach to architecture, always.”

After he closed his own firm to supposedly “retire” in the early 1990s, Pei worked alongside Sandi and his older brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, who died late last year, at PEI Architects, formerly Pei Partnership Architects. Pei would work on his own projects, with their assistance, and would guide his sons, too. The firm had substantial involvement in the Museum of Islamic Art, among other initiatives, for instance, Sandi says.

Working with his father was fun, he says. In starting a project, Pei was often deliberately vague about his intentions. The structure would coalesce “through a process of dialogue and sketches and sometimes just having lunch over a bottle of wine,” Sandi says. “He was able to draw from each of us who was working on the project our best efforts to help to guide [it] to some kind of form.”

The M+ retrospective, which will run through Jan. 5, is divided into six areas of focus, from Pei’s upbringing and education through to his work in real estate and urban redevelopment, art and civic projects, to how he reinterpreted history through design.

Sandi, who will participate in a free public discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Shirley Surya on the day it opens, is interested “in the opportunity to look at my father anew and to see his work in a different light now that it’s over, his last buildings are complete. You can take a full assessment of his career.”

And, he says, “I’m excited for other people to become familiar with his life.”