Life in Airplane Mode

Downtown LA, 2013

Dear friend,

The last month I’ve been living in Saigon in airplane mode, and I feel like I’m on a whole next-level ZEN mode.

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Ever since I was in a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 commercial (true story), I have got free phones from Samsung’s ‘White Glove’ program. I have got a free Galaxy S3, S5, S6, s7 edge, Note 3, and Note 4. I am no longer in the program (I got the boot).

Anyways, I’ve always been a critic of phone culture. We all know it — we no longer talk to our friends at the restaurant. We look at our phones. At the coffee shop, we see kids showing each other Facebook photos, and Snapchats — of course the youth still converse, but I see a lot more lack of social awareness.

Anyways, I am not immune. If I went to school today, I would be called ‘ADHD’ (which I think is a ‘fake disease’). If my mom were some middle-class liberal, I would have certainly been on Ritalin or ‘DIZIPLINE’ (watch Kimmy Schmidt episode).

The world is a fucking distracting place. Some examples from my personal life, which are annoying:

  1. I go on YouTube to watch an Elon Musk interview, and then the ‘suggested videos’ on the right keep me on YouTube for 1 hour longer than I intended to. Solution: Install ‘AdBlock Ultimate’ extension, and use the ‘Block Element’ tool to block suggested videos.
  2. I used to use Facebook, but I would get sucked into the News Feed for an hour. Solution: Install ‘Facebook News Feed Eradicator’ Plugin. Better yet — stop using Facebook and Messenger (my ultimate solution).
  3. I used to be addicted to Instagram, so I deleted my Instagram. I knew it was a problem when I would drive in my car, and think about what photograph to upload that day, rather than focusing on driving. Now, I feel free from the InstaPrison — I have built more of my personal empire on this blog, which has been paying a lot higher dividends.

Are distractions bad?

Anyways, everyone has their own addictive vice.

I don’t think distractions are necessarily bad. They are only annoying when you don’t intend to be distracted.

For example, if I need or want to work, I don’t want shit popping up in front of my face.

Saigon, 2017

Anyways, about 2 months ago in Hanoi, I decided to try to go a month without a phone, to see what it would do to my lifestyle, mind, and thoughts.

In Hanoi, I gave my Galaxy S6 Edge to Cindy, and she gave her Galaxy S6 to our friend Natalie. We then visited America, and we bought my mom a new phone (LG G6), and she gave us (back) our old Galaxy Note 3. We brought the Note 3 to Saigon as a backup phone (in case Cindy’s phone gets stolen). I’ve kept it mostly locked up in a safe.

I’ve used the Note 3 here and there– to listen to music, and sometimes blogging on it. But the interesting thing: it has no data. It only has airplane mode.


Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

Now, I will share my life experiences not having data, and for the most part– not having a phone:

1. I am more curious

Saigon, 2017

I used to be a curious kid. As I got older, I have become less curious.

Why? I’m not sure, but I think technology is one of the problems.

Rather than letting my mind wander, and asking myself ‘Why?’ about the natural world– I prefer audio-visual stimulation, facilitated through my black mirror (phone). When I would go to take a shit, I would check my phone to alleviate my boredom.

Saigon, 2017

First epiphany:

Boredom leads to creativity and curiosity.

Not having a phone or data has led me to getting bored more. But whenever I am bored, I stand up, wander, look around, and let my mind wander.

The more bored I have let myself become, the more curious I am about the world around myself.

2. I am more productive


I am more productive without a phone. Because not having a phone means I am less distorted. Less distractions = less consumption of brainless media.

Therefore, I am producing more.

I don’t think of ‘productivity’ as answering lots of emails. I see productivity as PRODUCING.

  • Producing blog posts and publishing them.
  • Producing videos
  • Producing music
  • Producing poems
  • Producing illustrations

Funny enough, I did this all in Saigon on an old iPad Air. I just blogged on the iPad for a month (my sole device). I wrote everything in IA WRITER or ULYSSES. I read ebooks for free via Project Gutenberg — reading mostly Nietzsche (see free Nietzsche books on Project Gutenberg — I recommend ‘Will to Power’).

I don’t know what it means to ‘focus’ — but I know what it means to KILL DISTRACTIONS.

3. I see more photo opportunities


Now, when I drop a deuce (take a shit), I don’t look at a phone. I let my mind wander, and I often look at the (dirty) walls. I then notice the cracks, mold, and other architectural details.

I can see.

When I’m wandering the streets of Saigon (being a ‘flaneur‘), without having headphones on, or looking at a phone — I see more photo opportunities. Therefore, I’ve been shooting more street photography.

If you shoot street photography with a phone, my simple suggestion:

Shoot in airplane mode.


I’m currently typing these lines on Cindy’s old MacBook Air. I just bought a 13” 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar (maxed out, via the Refurbished Mac Website), and just gave it to Cindy. Why? I intended to use it, but honestly, all of my work is done on the cloud — I don’t need a powerful computer. Cindy does the graphic design, she uses InDesign (she used it to make STREET NOTES MOBILE EDITION + STREET NOTES (PAPER), PHOTO JOURNAL, FILM NOTES). Cindy has been making lots of epic videos in Final Cut Pro + iMovie (To the Eric I Know, HANOI SONG, ANNETTE KIM x HAPTICPRESS.COM), and she really needs a powerful computer.

Anyways, I learned some lessons:

  1. Phones are overrated for productivity. I think they distract more, than help you produce or create stuff– although you can make great art with phones. I know great street photographers who only use their phone, produce music, or write. But ultimately (for me) I prefer not having a phone. I will probably get another one soon, but I prefer to keep it off, or in airplane mode.
  2. You can get a lot of work done on an iPad. I recommend IA WRITER + ULYSSES for writing. The only program I like having on a laptop is Adobe Lightroom. Everything else is good with iPad. Also, I have been loving doing these digital drawings with the iPad and ProCreate App.
  3. Subtract for innovation: I have become more innovative by having less technology in my life.

Of course, this is just me. Your experiences will be different.

But my simple suggestion:

Spend more life in airplane mode. I think you will find more creative and personal fulfillment in life.



The philosophy of technology:


Philosophy: love of wisdom.


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