From the Editor's Desk: Blocking out the world for a bit

Jeramy Shocked 2
Jeramy Shocked 2 (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

2020 has been a year, am I right?

From wildfires in Australia to wildfires on the west coast of the U.S., from a global pandemic to economic upheaval and social unrest, and from an impeachment hearing to an impending election, we've been through a lot as a society — and the year is not even over yet!

Regardless of your political affiliation or how you feel about having two more old white men as our only choices to lead this country, if you tuned in to the U.S. presidential debates this week and actually managed to watch it for more than a few minutes, you probably came away even more stressed and shell-shocked than when you started. I know I did. But wow, was it hard to escape the commentary surrounding it, no matter where you turned!

The world is such an insane place right now, and one of the last methods to escape it is through our TV sets, computers, or mobile devices. We are tuning in to various shows and movies and engaging in social media doomscrolling more than we ever have before. The noise, both figurative and literal, is deafening.

It seems like there has been no refuge from the cacophony that has been 2020.

That's just escapism though, that's not even considering the distractions coming at us from all sides as we learn, connect, and work remotely. How many working parents (be they human parents or pet parents) have their productivity cut into by noises and distractions in the home? Of course, those without roommates or family to look after have it hard enough as well, and by no means do I discount their struggles. It's been difficult for everyone.

So what do we do? We turn to our Facebook groups, and Twitter feeds, Instagram and Snapchat stories, or our TikTok and YouTube videos to tune out. However, these habits often end up engaging us and enraging us even more.

Jeramy Shocked 3

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

In response to the madness, many of us (myself most definitely included) often say, post, or tweet things we may come to regret immediately, or at some point in the future. Whether our comments are reactionary, inflammatory, offensive, or just plain silly, who among us hasn't regretted something we've sent out over social media over the last year?

While it's generally best to sit on an idea before sharing it, that's not always practical. You can always go back and manually delete or hide posts, but it's so much easier to use a service like TweetDelete or Jumbo to do it for you.

Twitter Delete Convo Screenshot

Source: Twitter (Image credit: Source: Twitter)

Jumbo not only monitors many of my accounts for data breaches, but it cleans up my mouthy messes as well. I have it set to delete all tweets older than 90 days automatically, but you can change the parameters to suit your preferences. Jumbo can do the same for your LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and more, but the service I find the most useful is that it can delete old Alexa voice recordings.

Alexa Privacy

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Source: Amazon)

Amazon has allowed Alexa users to ask the assistant to "forget what I just said" or "delete everything I said today." It recently announced that users can now ask Alexa to delete their entire voice history. These are important steps, but I love that I don't have to remember to ask Alexa to have my voice history deleted.

Taking care of you and your family's mental and emotional health is more important now than ever, and a big part of that is managing the avalanche of stimuli and input from your devices and services, as well as your own output.

Here are just a few ideas, services, and products to help block out the world for a while and regain or maintain your sanity:

  • Whether you need to tune out your understandably rowdy human babies or pet babies, sometimes the quickest escape is in a good pair of noise-canceling over-ear headphones or earbuds. While you're at it, zone out to some lo-fi hip-hop or ambient music from your favorite streaming service. Much of this stuff will soon be on sale for Amazon Prime Day 2020, so you can save a few bucks while saving your sanity.
  • If you want to periodically check on your Amazon Alexa Privacy Hub, you can do so at any point through the Alexa app.
  • I've been using the Jumbo privacy app for over a year on iOS and Android, and it can automate the process of cleansing your social media accounts, monitoring the dark web, and much more. I highly recommend checking it out. They have a solid free service, and you can pay what you think is fair for the premium features.
  • Play around with the Digital Wellbeing features on your Android phone, as well as any OEM-specific features from companies like Samsung and OnePlus.

Whatever solution you find to get a little peace and balance during these tough times, I hope it is working for you.

Stay involved, stay active, but most importantly, stay safe, sane, and healthy. Here's to the start of another crazy week!

— Jeramy

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Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.

  • "So what do we do? We turn to our Facebook groups, and Twitter feeds, Instagram and Snapchat stories, or our TikTok and YouTube videos to tune out." Is there seriously anyone alive who thinks going to social media is "tuning out". That's like going to a concert because you need some "peace and quiet". I got rid of social media years ago and never looked back. I think way too many celebrities, journalists, etc use Twitter and end up thinking that's how people feel. Isn't it something like less than 10% of people use Twitter, and less than 2% of them make up over 80% of all tweets? Try this out: next time you read anything about what "people are saying on Twitter", go outside and ask a few flesh and blood humans. 99 times out of 100 they will think something different from what so-called "people on Twitter" think. "Twitter is not real life." -Dave Rubin
  • Agree 100%. No one uses social media to "tune out".
  • Since the pandemic I have been reading more, exercising and cooking! U have to turn off social media for a while. I turned off my phone for 2 days. Boy it was needed.
  • You don't need to clean the floor. If you don't go out walking in the mud.
  • Social media is a cesspool, and staying out of it is one of the best things I've done. Only thing I miss out on is contests or functions that discriminate against those who are not on Facebook and Twitter.
    For a break from other stresses, I get on the bike and hit the trails. 545 miles in 6 weeks, and if I don't feel like the local paths, I put the bike in the hatch of the car and head to a state park with my Nikon and a long lens in the bag.
    2020 has been a heck of a year: Lost one of my best friends. Lost my job due to the pandemic. My gaming buddy, who happens to be amazingly beautiful, got badly burned in a campfire incident and is partially covered with scars and scabs at the moment. I'll never turn her away and she spent the night last night, but this may be the end of her being recruited for movies and modeling.
    But on the bright side, I'm still loved. My wife is enjoying spending extra time with me, and our Zoom seminars on marriage are going very well. My pretty good health has gotten even better thanks to exercise and more sleep. I've found several different jobs that I can step right into, and just have to write resumes and apply. It's been a rough year, but there are still good things in the midst of the storm.
  • You lost me at.. "We turn to our Facebook groups, and Twitter feeds, Instagram and Snapchat stories, or our TikTok and YouTube videos to tune out." No one has ever thought or said this in the last 4+ years.
  • I am REALLY appreciating that society is realizing how destructive social media and the 24\7 news is to our health, overall well being and sense of community. If anyone has not watched the Social Delimma on Netflix I highly recommend it.