In a recent article on ‘The Keyword‘ by Google, Sebastian Bauer celebrates Android’s customization features such as wallpapers, widgets, and emoji as tools that ‘help us be ourselves’ on our phones. However, to me, what truly empowers us to be ourselves on our phones is our data, and the phone serves as a gateway to access, process, and manage this wealth of information in our lives, allowing us to be more effective and at peace.
Self expression is deeper than personalization
Since I transitioned to a Pixel device with Google’s clean and simple ‘vanilla’ operating system (which has gotten so much better over the years, and yes, Nexus was my gateway drug), coupled with Google Workspace apps like Docs, Keep, Calendar, Chat Spaces, Tasks, and more, I’ve discovered a new approach to life management that’s akin to a digital journal – something I’ve been exploring more and more as of late.
Here, I can meticulously organize and access my data, creating a sense of purpose and, importantly, peace in my life. Coming from someone who used to physically Bullet Journal and keep thousands of scrap papers with ideas on it, fighting constantly to organize and make sense of them, the combination of Workspace and Pixel have been life changing. This, at its core, is what allows me to ‘be myself’ and feel more expressive and intentional than simple digital stickers, designs and widgets. Life gets crazy, and sometimes, you just need effective tools to offload the stress and information.
Pixel + Workspace = Inner Peace
Most of the brain dump process in my day-to-day goes directly into Google Chat Spaces, where it’s set and forget. From there, I can make it actionable with Calendar, and Tasks. For moment-to-moment creativity and thoughts, I can quick capture with Tasks and Keep notes on the go. The fact that I can offload my brain and focus on the things that matter without fear of forgetting them or having them lost to the infinite void of things I need to accomplish give me immense peace.
Now, organizing these things in Google’s apps isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and sure, some could feel a sense of overwhelm. Perhaps it’s my meticulous personality and love for organization, but even if you keep a messy digital footprint, it’s better than none at all.
All I’m saying is that my relationship with my phone has evolved over time from something I used to call and browse the web mindlessly, to something that drives the core of my lifestyle. I get that Google simply wanted to highlight widgets, wallpapers, and emoji in their blog post, but something about these things and the idea of self expression helping us ‘be ourselves’ rubbed me the wrong way.
Opinion: A missed opportunity
It’s not as simple as that, and I hope that in future campaigns, the company leans into marketing that centers on helping users tell their story, feel at peace with their inner turmoil through thought capture, reflection and organization, and ultimately improve their lives in more meaningful ways.
I know this isn’t a traditional Chrome Unboxed post, but I felt strongly about it, so I figured I’d share my thoughts. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, but I’d argue that despite all it does wrong, it’s certainly struck a chord with me in so much that it’s helped me organize my inner world in a way it probably doesn’t realize.
Freedom to be myself
Because I have a Pixel in my pocket with all of these incredible (though admittedly not perfect) tools and services at my fingertips, as well as a new AI assistant to help make sense of it all, I can take every thought captive, which makes them universally accessible and useful for my growth and transformation.
Not everyone is as gung ho about personal productivity as I am, but if you’ve noticed, I’ve been dipping more and more into tools, tips and resources for Chromebook and Android phone users over the past year here. If you share my love for this or have a personal experience with your digital lifestyle, drop a comment! I’d be interested in hearing whether or not you keep a digital journal, if apps help you ‘be yourself’ or if you’re cool with simply customizing your wallpaper and widgets and sending a few emoji to feel expressive.