She has built a business around her I Quit Sugar blog and embraces social media but the journalist practises tech minimalism, especially in the kitchen. Interview by Alex Greig.
What was your latest download?
The Pandora [music and radio] app.
Is there a technology you wish existed?
I’m surprised effective tattoo removal doesn’t exist yet. If it did, I’d invest in it – I think there’s a growing need.
What technology do you wish had never been invented?
We’ve created a rod for our own backs with certain gadgets, like baby monitors.
What apps do you use?
I use the default health app on my iPhone that tells me how many steps I take each day. And I’m embarrassed to say I use Astrology Zone.
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Which social media platforms do you use?
Instagram and Facebook are the main ones. I feel Instagram is a positive outlet and that it hasn’t lost its essence. There’s not this requisite... back-and-forth banter or snark, whereas Facebook can spiral into not-very-helpful dialogue. I use Twitter in a very passive way, for news.
Has anyone followed you on Instagram who you’ve been really excited about?
The Cool Hunter website, “The Body Coach” Joe Wicks and Alain de Botton.
Have you ever regretted a tweet?
At my age, I’m responsible about the way I send out messages. I also accept when I do say something that might push the boundaries a little; I learn from it. Also, you can undo a tweet! I’ve regretted some emails more.
Gmail now has an “unsend” feature…
I’m yet to meet anyone it’s worked for!
How much time do you spend in front of a screen every day?
A lot at the moment because I’m finishing a book. I try to monitor my social media use. I believe in minimising interactions because every email you write begets three more. If you become one of those people who is always available, that’s what the world expects of you.
What websites do you visit the most?
Probably my own [laughs], just because I have to keep an eye on it and I actively engage in comments. Others include Brain Pickings, The New Yorker and Mother Jones.
Apple or Android?
Apple; it works with my reptilian brain. I’m so programmed to know the functionality and I think my brain has moulded around the way Apple works.
Have you ever bought any ridiculously expensive kitchen technology?
No, it goes against my principles. I instruct readers to simplify the way they cook and not to spend a fortune on gadgetry. I work with three simple appliances: a high-speed blender, a slow cooker – they’re dirt-cheap and last forever – and a hand-mixer to purée soups. I would never splurge on a waffle-maker or anything like that.
Technology is a huge part of your career…
Yes, and I’m fortunate because I was playing around with new technologies and platforms as they emerged. So I’ve been able to experiment and see what works for me and maximise it while everybody’s still trying to work out how to turn the damn thing on.
Real books or e-books?
To build on the notion of being a Luddite: I write e-books for a living but have never owned any kind of e-reader. That’s an active choice in line with my minimalism.
Wouldn’t having an e-reader mean fewer books and, therefore, less stuff?
I’m so old school that I go to community libraries; they’re some of my favourite places. I live light and borrow books.
What technology do you take on planes?
My laptop and my iPhone. I love, love, love writing on a plane and in airport lounges.
Do you feel we’re too reliant on technology?
Yes. I think technology has become yet another thing that takes us away from what we’re really looking for, which is a better relationship with ourselves and with life. That said, if we’re aware of that, we can use technology mindfully and it can be a great asset for freeing up time. When I have free time, I don’t fill it with more toggling – I get outside and go for an ocean swim. ￼
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