Airrick Dunfield

Developer / Designer / Educator

Journal / Intentionally Online #3

Intentionally Online #3

By Airrick Dunfield

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With Facebook deactivated and my mission to be more intentional with how I use the internet still going strong, it's time to take stock of how I am currently using the internet.

My brain likes to simplify things. My brain also loves a good tier list, so this month, I will get a lay of my digital landscape.

For now, I am going to evaluate the apps I use (mobile and web) on whether they make my life better by using them. Pretty simple.

For this round, I won't consider how the applications treat my privacy and data. Once I narrow down the list, I can dig into that. For now, I am keeping it simple.

There are two companies that I can't ignore their privacy policies, though. I am looking at you Meta, and Google. I really don't trust either of these companies, so even if their applications are great and I use them often, the highest tier they can achieve is D.

I will evaluate the apps using the following criteria (classic educator behaviour, might as well have made a rubric):

  • Do I feel better after using the app?
  • Do I use the app when I want to use it?
  • Does using the app make me better, smarter, and more capable?
  • If it's a social app, do I have a community there?


S-tier Apps: The Best of The Best

These apps are only good for me. Without them, I would be lost. I use them every day.

  • Notion
  • Focusmate
  • Find My
  • Screen Time
  • Duolingo
  • Signal
  • 1Password
  • iCal
  • iPod/Music App (mp3s)
  • Grammarly
  • Authy
  • iMessage
  • Apple Maps
  • GitHub
  • VSCode


A-Tier Apps: Pretty Darn Good For Me

These apps are always good for me with an asterisk. Mostly, I don't just can't force myself to use them as much as I want to/should. These apps can stay for now.

  • one sec (I might get a promotion to S-tier soon)
  • Discord
  • Strava
  • RidewithGPS
  • Bandcamp
  • Mastodon
  • Mozilla VPN
  • Appblock
  • Headspace
  • VPL
  • Firefox
  • Weather
  • Apptiv
  • Wikipedia
  • VLC
  • Brave
  • Bandcamp


B-Tier Apps: At Least I Feel Good After Using Them?

These apps usually make me feel good but don't add real value to my life. Often, they are just fun or serve a particular neutral purpose. Not too distracting. 

Some, like Tumblr, are just entertaining and show me things I like.

  • Tumblr
  • Pocketcasts
  • Mail
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Feedly


C-Tier Apps: Junk Food Tastes Good

These apps can be fun or helpful, but I am either using them too much, or they are using me. Chances are, they are showing me content to make me angry. They likely have one or two redeeming features that are keeping them on my phone or daily visit list. They are candidates for deletion if they step out of line or a better option comes along.

For some, I either feel neutral or worse after using them.

  • Netflix
  • Reddit
  • YouTube
  • Etsy (This is a me problem, lol. I love to shop.)


D-Tier Apps: I Fully Admit I am in a Toxic Relationship

I only use these apps because other people I connect with do, and it's simply a numbers thing. I don't trust these apps or the companies that run them, and I am actively trying to reduce their effect on my life.

Or, I have been using them for so long that it's going to be a real long process to leave them.

It might not be that the service is bad (aka Google products). I just may have a real distrust of the parent company.

  • Instagram
  • Gmail
  • Google Search
  • Google Drive
  • Google Home 
  • Google Docs


F-Tier: I Am a Little Embarrassed to Still be Using These

These apps and sites need to go. No argument is strong enough to keep using them any longer. Either they are terrible for me, or I don't want them to have the data they have.

  • Google Photos
  • My Amazon account (Prime's already gone)
  • WebMD, NHI, etc. (I have Illness Anxiety Disorder)

That's it for now, I'll keep editing this as I go.