Rebooting is a biweekly newsletter about how we can use technology to take better care of ourselves
I have a serious problem getting irrationally frustrated over things that just shouldn’t matter. A good example is my ongoing feud with my neighbors, who ignore my pleas for mercy as they slam their door at all hours of the day, forcing me to blast “Baby Shark” until they get the hint.
When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me to do push ups until I wasn’t mad anymore. The problem was, my arms would give out before my anger did, so I’d wind up mad at myself and whatever else was irking me.
That’s sort of what being online feels like sometimes. You log onto Twitter to see what the latest Bad, No Good News is, and inevitably some dingus had said something that gets under your skin. Whether it’s in your mentions or just a tweet liked by that dude you’ve been meaning to unfollow, it adds up. A few of those can leave me feeling riled up and gross.
The problem isn’t just limited to Twitter. I often wind up losing sleep because I’ve been scrolling through the ‘gram wishing I could make meals that pretty, or just browsing Reddit until I’ve tapped on the same post three times. At the end of it all, my brain feels like it’s been reduced to a stream of sludge that can’t do anything. That’s not sustainable. So, I started looking for apps to turn to whenever I was itching to keep my mind busy—something that would be more refreshing than exhausting.
The first app I found was Serial Reader, a lovely reading app that breaks down classics like Pride and Prejudice, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Treasure Island into quick daily digests. I set mine to deliver at 7 AM so I can read it as I walk my pup, but it’s also great for commuting into work or passing time at the doctor’s office.
I know it’s old, but Threes is still one of my favorite games on iOS. It’s not the most intricate or enthralling game out there, but its charming design has held up over the years. Every block combination feels like its own reward. The best part is that it doesn’t feel very competitive, so once you’re done you can just start over and try again—no need to throw the controller.
I’ve also been hooked a delightful Wikipedia app, Inquire. Rather than just being a portal into Wikipedia’s (mostly) informative entries, Inquire uses your location to show you entries for landmarks around you. I’ve moved around a lot in the past year, and Inquire has been a great way for me to feel more at home.
These apps haven’t made the constant itch to see what’s going on disappear, but they do help pull me away for a bit and recharge before diving back in.
In the news
What to Do When You’re Bored With Your Routines: Nobody likes getting stuck in a rut. Still, it happens, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. You may not be able to entirely change your situation, but this piece highlights several things you can try to make your routine feel new again. Throw some flowers on your desk! Add a few new lifts to your workout routine! Switch up your commute playlist, or just sit back and people watch for half an hour! You’ll be feeling fresh in no time.
Apple’s New Strategy Erodes ‘Screen Time’: I’ve never really been a fan of Apple’s Screen Time feature—it’s just an added layer to get to the apps I want to use, and I hit the ignore button every time. Damon Beres’s point here is that Apple may have some interest in keeping your eyes off your phone for too long, but that mission is slowly deflating as Apple relies more on services to maintain its profits. That’s all fine, but if you want to use your phone less, you should probably just change the things you’re doing with your phone rather than going to Apple for a solution.
Wargroove: I’m not a huge gamer, but Advance Wars ate up more hours of my childhood than either I or my parents are proud of. Wargroove, which mimics the turn-based strategy model of Advance Wars, trading tanks and bomber jets for archers, mages, and spearmen. It has a charming pixel-art aesthetic that makes the game as alluring as it is challenging.
As always, if you have any questions, feedback, or just want to say hello, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter.
My thanks to Daniel Varghese for editing this issue.