why i only use plain black wallpapers
My phone, tablet, and laptop wallpapers are all plain black. As far as I can see, I'm the only person at the office who does this. They haven't been boring and empty for long, though. Before I made the switch this year, I spent a lot of time curating aesthetically pleasing setups for my devices. My wallpaper for my work laptop used to be this beautiful photograph of Chile.
When I found myself tired or bored at work, I would lean back and gaze at my desktop longingly, daydreaming of sunny carefree days. It gave me a fleeting escape from reality, but tumbling out of my reverie made me sad every time.
I quit doing this when I read Jeff Atwood's Your desktop is not a destination, which has stuck with me ever since. Your devices are tools, not fashion accessories. You shouldn't let them seduce you into thinking that what you see on a screen is better than the vibrant world outside it. Resisting this pull will only get harder as content gets better and our devices more immersive. As a programmer, I already spend more than ten hours a day, every single day, staring at screens. I don't want to do it any more than I have to.
After deciding to make the switch I noticed that my devices didn't want me to have a boring, ugly wallpaper. On my work laptop the default lock screen background for Windows 11 is a slideshow of beautiful landscapes overlaid with rotating fun facts. I don't know how people tolerate these. Every time I see them on colleagues' screens I can't help getting drawn in, drinking in the view and reading the tidbits.
To be clear, I don't think a plain black background is the only way to adhere to this philosophy. One of my friends types important contact information on a note and uses a screenshot of that as his wallpaper. To me, this is the epitome of using your device as a tool. You don't have do this or masochistically erase everything from your desktop, but taking steps like these will help establish a healthy relationship with your devices.