I love technology. In particular, I’ve long held a grand fascination with computers. During the spring and fall growing up((But not the summers. Those were spent in the technological void that is my mother’s house, which still does not have internet. In 2015. Because it’s apparently Satan. But that’s another post for another time.)), I would play near-daily football games at my grandparents’ house with my cousins. I would detail the results of our games in spreadsheet after spreadsheet of data, thanks in part to one cousin’s willingness to note take during games. When I first got regular access to internet in 2006((I didn’t have regular internet access until about two weeks before I went to college. Even in the rural area I grew up in, this was extremely late…like 5-7 years late)), my mind was opened up to a new world of technology, opinions, cultures, and opportunities. I found it to be a wonderful thing.
In late 2009, I got my first smartphone, a Motorola Q9. Over the next few years, my smartphone became my primary source for connecting with and learning about the outside world. Without it, many of my day-to-day activities — in particular keeping in touch with friends, reading relatively unbiased news, and dating — would have become significantly more difficult. Nevermind the fact that having a smartphone made three months in Manila, as well as a pair of cross-USA moves significantly easier.
In the spring of 2013, I decided to give up my smartphone for a dumbphone. I stopped using my Motorola Droid x2 and switched to a Samsung Intensity III (pictured below).
Save for a pair of one day spans where I’ve forgotten said phone places((I’ve never forgotten my phone anywhere before having this phone. I had a phone stolen once, but making my phone’s alarm trigger remotely in the thief’s home for four hours straight was worth it)), I’ve used that phone continuously as my primary form of communication for the past 22 months. There’s a lot I’ve learned during that time just from having a non-smartphone as my phone. I figured I’d share a few of those points with you all.
- Very little changes in terms of communicating. While not having a smartphone obviously means less access to email when I’m out and about (more on that in a moment), I still had the ability to call and text people. Sure, it took a few weeks…okay, months…of getting used to a physical keyboard again. That said, just because I didn’t have a smartphone doesn’t mean I forgot how to take a phone call.
- You get really weird looks from people for not having a smartphone. Most people tend to assume that you are either a technological dinosaur or sub-poverty line poor if you don’t have a smartphone. Toying with people by showing them my dumbphone before outsmarting them in a technological debate was (and still is) great fun.
- Most of those weird looks go away when you explain that it’s for financial purposes. Nearly everyone understands the need to make a better living and future for yourself. Saving an extra $35 a month on my cell phone bill by switching to a dumbphone was one of the easiest choices I could make. Of course, with how Verizon’s plans have changed since then, that difference is not as significant. A smartphone plan now with unlimited calls and texting, though not unlimited data((Seriously though, cell phone companies getting rid of unlimited data is the third biggest policy error they’ve made in the last 15 years, behind opposing net neutrality and supporting NSA spying)) costs less than my non-smartphone plan did in 2013.
- It’s a great conversation piece for interviews. I’ve pulled out my phone on more than one occasion in an interview, just to see how people would react. I personally don’t care what people say to me. However if they’re scoffing at my slider phone, how can they be expected to maintain their composure if a customer asks them a stupid question on the phone?((Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a stupid question.))
- It’s very freeing, particularly when it comes to email. If you’re like me, you’re the type of person who will reply immediately to an email if at all possible. Just having that little bit of disconnect between my email and my phone was a very calming feeling. While I did set my dumbphone up to pull up email through its web browser, it was something I rarely used — maybe 2-3 times a month at most.
- We live in a world with so much technology that a smartphone isn’t needed — yet is the best way to combine everything we need. Unless you’re typing up a dissertation or a blog post with excessive formatting((Like the one you’re reading)), most everyday activities that you’d complete on the internet don’t need a full-blown computer to use. While I love my iPad mini((Arguably the second best purchase I’ve made in the last 12 months)), the convenience of having a phone/computer I can fit in my pocket is wonderful.
Despite this experiment going better than expected, I’m dropping my self-imposed smartphone ban. I’ve gone back to my Droid x2 while I await being able to upgrade in April, where I’ll continue my shift to Apple products((A shift which has been partially motivated by Microsoft killing off Windows 8. Seriously though, I love that OS.)). A dying dumbphone battery helped nudge me in that direction. With that said, I don’t regret this experiment. I think it helped me to reorganize some priorities, while also allowing me to better structure my day around — as well as independent of — technology.