This past month, I have been reinstalling apps like it’s 2016. This post has nothing to do about certain public votes that year.

I am talking specifically about two apps on my phone that I first started using in 2016, then uninstalled at various points between then and now. The reason I’ve reinstalled both is largely down to Covid-related boredom, which I am well aware may also result in a boring post. But it’s my birthday and I can post a boring post if I want to. Admittedly, that’s not the best birthday perk.

Anyway, the first app is Duolingo. I originally installed it in about December 2016, when I was in Gran Canaria and quickly realised how it was much more Spanish than I originally thought. Unable to speak a word when I arrived and feeling stupid for not knowing any basic phrases, I started learning Spanish in my hotel room. And within no time, I could order a glass of wine, a beer, and a table for one.

I used the app daily for the next year before having actual Spanish lessons and realising that the language was far harder than Duolingo led me to believe. Due to subsequent travels, I’ve used the app to learn basic Portuguese, where I achieved 7% fluency. And I also tried to rekindle my aptitude from school for German – before I stopped doing any work in Years 10 and 11 – when I went on a work trip to Cologne and again, found myself unable to say much other than: “Ich habe schlect durchfall.” Google translate that.

I actually continued using the app regularly until 2020, when I decided one day that I’d had enough of the constant threats of relegation from the leagues and the passive-aggressive emails from “Duo” trying to persuade me to use it more.

This time, I’ve opted out of the pressures of the leagues and have started learning French. I already know quite a few words and phrases from a combination of two years of lessons at school and going to France on family holidays for about 15 years pretty much straight between the ages of four and 19.

The other app I’ve reinstalled is Pokemon Go. I originally installed it when it launched in 2016 and would use it on the commute when I was working in Manchester and built up quite the Pokedex (collection).

I’ve written on here before about why I no longer play computer games due to how easily I get addicted. And it’s true again in this case. This game used to be a lot easier to switch off when you’re not moving about. But now, there’s loads of stuff you can do when staying in one place and those signs of addiction are kicking in, with battles being the main cause. Not the ones with the most powerful Pokemon though. There’s a new one where power the limit is very low. I think it’s actually a lot more fun this way, similar to how I always enjoyed being put in the bottom groups for sports at school as it made me feel like I was more skilful than I actually was. So far, my growing addiction has resulted in me spending £1.58 on additional pokeballs. If I can just get a Charizard, then I will quit again for another year or so. Definitely appropriate behaviour for a now 37 year old.

Appy birthday to me. Ahem…

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