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How can I be less addicted to tech? Code Media attendees have some solutions.

Executives, investors and rapper Chamillionaire explain what tech products they can’t quit and how they unplug.

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A man sits in a hotel lobby looking at his phone. Asa Mathat

In a special episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, we set out to get some insights on tech addiction from people in the media and tech industries: Specifically, the attendees from Code Media 2018.

The Verge’s Lauren Goode roamed the halls of the conference last week in Huntington Beach, Calif., interviewing everyone from Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso to Recode reporter Johana Bhuiyan to rapper-turned-entrepreneur Chamillionaire (who now goes by the moniker “Cam”). Goode and Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher debated whether the responsibility for reducing tech addiction belongs to tech companies or consumers.

Below are some highlights from what Code Media attendees recommend for those looking to get some distance from their gadgets.

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Ian Schafer, founder and former CEO, Deep Focus: “I tend to keep my phone away from bed. It’s never the last thing I do at night, nor is it the first thing I do in the morning. I cherish that time. I’ve gotten a little more detached from technology as I stepped away from ad agency life. It seems like when you’re in the service business, everything’s an emergency.”

Rollo Wenlock, CEO, Wipster: “We used to have a country house that was so far in the country there was no internet, which was fantastic. We’d go there and bring friends and everyone’s phones would stay in the cars, in the car park. We’d be having fires and jump in the river and everything and you would forget about all that stuff. Then you would realize your habits are like short loops, these habits of check-check-check, that starts to go into a long loop of talking to people and thinking about deeper things. That was really helpful. Then we sold the place and now it’s just short loops again.”

Hakeem “Chamillionaire” Seriki, founder, Convoz: “I don’t consider myself really addicted — that sounds like something an addicted person would say. I challenge myself a lot of times. One time, I challenged myself to not eat any red meat, and I haven’t ate red meat in maybe 10 years. I challenged myself to stop drinking caffeine — I used to drink Red Bulls all the time — and I haven’t drank caffeine in, I don’t remember. So when it comes to setting down my device and not being too attached to it, I can always go on these little fasts, where I’m like, ‘I’m not going to do this for a while.’”

Johana Bhuiyan, senior transportation reporter, Recode: “I’ve been doing this for a few years now ... I do automatic ‘Do Not Disturb’ at 10 p.m. Not really great when Kara is trying to call you, but whatever. I do try to answer, still, when it’s Kara Swisher. So I do automatic Do Not Disturb at 10, it goes off at 7 a.m., and also I put my phone not on my bed, not near me, and I just try not to touch it.”

Sophia Amoruso, founder, Nasty Gal: “I’ve downloaded a bunch of apps that track how much time I’m using my phone. There’s one called Moment, I think? Has it changed my behavior? No. I’m kind of always on my phone. I wake up, look at my phone, drop it on my forehead. I carry it to the kitchen with me. It’s like my baby blanket.”

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If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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