Resetting habit defaults

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We know adding good habits is hard. Stopping bad habits is harder.. though Sam Thomas Davies will have you believe it’s not impossible.

Exercise every day? Good.

Smoking? Bad.

Eat vegetables? Good.

Daily drinking? Bad.

Sleep 7-8 hours daily? Good.

What about the vast spectrum of decisions in between? Uber or Ola? Flipkart or Amazon? iPhone or Android? Mac or Windows? Google. Gmail. Chrome Browser. I guess I’m largely talking about technology usage habits and the last three may not even have credible alternatives.

A recent incident at work was the trigger for this line of thinking. A colleague (Ash) had recently started cycling (and running) and innocuously mentioned Google Fit as his choice of app. He got an earful from me on why he should use Strava. “But Google Fit is a perfectly good app..”, he argued.

He didn’t need to say that it was *Google* Fit. Indeed, what could possibly go wrong with a Google product decision? Seemingly nothing yet I proceeded to convince him otherwise. There’s more to tracking your workouts than ‘tracking’, I hectored. There’s *community* also. Anybody who is even half serious is on Strava. I pointed to 2 other colleagues who were already on Strava. That eventually clinched the deal for Ash.

The whole truth is that I haven’t really wanted Google to conquer any more markets and collect any more data than they already have. Owning search, video and Android is plenty. I did not want Google Plus to succeed and I certainly don’t want their deep learning algorithms to tell me that if I change my diet/lifestyle to Plan Qwerty123, it will extend my healthy lifespan by 2.7 years.

Ok Google.

Sorry Google.

You are not getting my fitness data.

I’ve been using the Nike Run app (no social features – hallelujah!) this year and I hope to sunset that app too in the not so distant future.

My wife has observed this about me: I’ll start to do something new (and let me qualify that as ‘good’ new) and massively ratchet it up.

On that ratcheting note, I naturally moved to Could I extract and toss away any more Google tentacles?

Could I switch from Chrome to Firefox? Once a savior for millions of frustrated Internet Explorer users, Firefox struggles for relevance in a Chrome-dominated world. However, their most recent release got me excited. The universe seems to conspiratorially egg me on because in the past 2 months, I’ve had to restart Chrome way too often for my liking.

What about Google Search? Could I stop using it? Giving up Google Search would be harder than Chrome but it adds to the appeal. Years ago, I tried a similar experiment with Bing and it was a middling success. But I didn’t persist.

This time I’m heart’ing on the private search engine DuckDuckGo so I rate my chances higher.

Going beyond the world of Google, are there other habits one can change? Maybe the Uber vs Ola and Amazon vs Flipkart is more of a preference rather than a default, a temporary switch to the ‘other’ driven more by availability/supply side. 

In closing, I’d say three factors seem to be influencing my choice of technology products:

  • underdog status
  • purity of purpose
  • commitment to privacy

Sometimes the post is finished and, despite multiple edits, you are still scratching your head wondering “why on earth did I write this?” This is one such post.