Let's turn the tables on tech sunsetting

We've all seen it happen. There's a tech product you love and use every day, then the company that makes it decides to discontinue it, apparently on a whim.

From the tech industry's standoint, this practice is called "sunsetting." The idea is that by phasing out certain products, they can save money or better allocate engineering talent to more promising projects, or both. In many cases, the company will announce a sunset date for a product that's some time off in the future, to help users prepare and make a gradual transition. Hence the comparison to the sun gradually going down.

As users, I think we should put this concept to work as well.

We all have social, email, and cloud accounts we'd love to stop using, but never do out of sheer inertia. A personal version of sunsetting would work perfectly for this scenario. Set a deadline some time off, use the account a little less over time, and then shut it down altogether when the sunset date arrives.

I've already stopped using Facebook, Gmail, and several other products this way myself. In some cases, I've switched my usage pattern to other tools that I actually enjoy more, like self-hosted email, old-school blogging, and Twitter.

In other instances, phasing out a certain product just frees up more time for life in general. It helps ensure that my time is well spent, as the tech ethicist Tristan Harris would say.

Regardless of your goal, I'd say it's above all important to be more intentional about the tech you use everyday. If something is substantively useful to you – and worth any drawbacks that it may carry – then by all means keep using it. But if not, don't just mindlessly keep gravitating to it. Get rid of it – gradually, if need be.

Photo by Lucas Franco via Unsplash.

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