The App of the Moment


By Michele Bacigalupo

Photo courtesy of Mandy Fierens.

We know what all the news stories have been trumpeting lately about smartphones. We’ve become too attached to our phones, and we’re dumbfounded as to how to reduce the habit. Experts are warning us to put the phone down, to turn it off, and to leave it alone.

We’re not engaging in the present moment anymore. We’re not socializing like we used to, before current technology became so accessible. Our phones serve as limitless sources of information and social networks. There’s an app that exists for almost every foreseeable need and desire. Technology has become so imperative that we feel the need to carry our phones within thumbs’ reach at all times.

That’s precisely the problem associated with smartphones. People are reliant upon their phones for pretty much everything. Forget the olden days of trying to keep track of people’s full names and numbers. Now our phones carry our emails, research databases, music libraries, notes, reminders, and mindless games.

Where would we be without all the filters employed by photo editing apps? Our lives would return to being plain, and let’s face it, choosing “no filter” is not always the best option.

Humanity is begging for a way to learn how to let go of such addictive technology. We need to learn how to tune back into the reality of everyday life. That’s where the new app, Moment, comes into the picture.

Kevin Holesh, the creator behind Moment, tells BTR, “Moment works by tracking your iPhone use 24/7, and constantly tapping you on the shoulder so you know exactly how much time you’ve been spending on your phone.”

Holesh is constantly updating and perfecting Moment. He’s the only developer, so he has complete control.

“I’ll develop for about four hours each day,” he explains. “Then I test the app for a week or two with my wife before I publicly release it. I put out a release of Moment every two to three weeks, so I’m constantly tweaking the design and features.”

He tells BTR that he comes up with his most innovative ideas when he’s “doing something boring.” Holesh likes to go on runs without wearing headphones. His best thinking often occurs while on these runs, or while he’s taking a shower. He’s productive even in his downtime.

Image courtesy of Moment.

Not everybody chooses to acknowledge phone usage as a waste of time, however. For people who remain unphased after realizing they’ve devoted 75 minutes to staring at their screens, Holesh added a new feature to emphasize Moment’s message.

“For people who need a heavier hand, I just came out with a feature that locks you out of your phone after you’re over your daily limit,” says Holesh. “You can disable it in case of emergencies–but I’ve heard many success stories using it!”

Holesh noticed differences in his own behavior since inventing and adapting to Moment. He no longer keeps his iPhone in the bedroom. Previously, he would be on his phone before going to sleep, and was guilty of checking his email the instant he woke up.

He and his wife now restrict their “iPhone time,” which they often spend together sitting on the couch in the evening, surfing their individual phones.

“We’re a lot more forward and honest with ourselves now,” says Holesh.

The largest age group of smartphone owners is Millennials. According to a 2014 Nielsen report, 85 percent of those aged 18-24 possess the technology, as do 86 percent of those between 25-34. Millennials are estimated to spend an average of 14.5 hour per week texting, talking, and using social-media apps on these devices.

Holesh says the present-day addiction to technology is not exclusive to Millennials. He admits that he notices differences in the behavior of his family when they vacation. When Holesh was growing up, he and his family used to watch the sunset and talk around the campfire. Now, everyone has wifi, and they prefer to watch their individual computer screens indoors.

“I’m seeing my parents’ generation getting sucked into screens too,” he explains. “What I’m afraid of most is not being satisfied just having a conversation with a friend. My iPhone gives me constant stimulation and satisfaction. I feel the constant pull of my iPhone in my pocket, begging for my attention.”

Of course, one can’t escape the irony of lessening mobile dependency with the assistance of an app, but there’s no use trying to fight it. Modern technology is often the best option when it comes to producing fast results. Plus, Moment is trying to help people more than anything. It’s working towards giving us the reality check that we so desperately need.

“I can’t think of a legitimate reason to always be on your iPhone,” says Holesh, “’I need my phone for work’ is an excuse I hear a lot.”

He doesn’t check his email after a certain time of night, and tries not to let missed notifications worry him.

“If I let those emails slide until the next morning, nothing bad ever happens.”

Holesh advises the rest of us to take a similar risk every once in a while. Turn off the phone after dinner and see how you experience the rest your night without keeping a constant watch on the screen. Without the phone next to you, you may feel as if you’ve traveled through time. It’s possible you’ll experience sensations from the past, but it’s more likely that you’ll see evidence of a more balanced future.