From the Editor's Desk: Blocking out the world for a bit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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Jeramy is the Editor-in-Chief of Android Central. He is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.