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Why I’ve Never Owned a SmartphoneReading time: 6 mins

Why I’ve Never Owned a Smartphone

I don’t have a smartphone. Sometimes I think we’re in the zombie apocalypse already. Wherever I go, everyone’s got their head buried in a smartphone.

Whether I’m standing at a bus stop or sitting in an airport, I’m the only one looking up, because I don’t have a smartphone. I’ve never had a smartphone in my life.

For the kids that don’t remember, back in my day (2000’s), we had flip phones. Even then I was way behind the times.

I owned a small box-shaped phone with prepaid minutes. Each text would cost half a prepaid minute. Yep, that was once a reality.

Now I have a flip phone. No apps on it whatsoever. I can only text, call, and take pictures.

My phone can even access Facebook, though it’s very tiny on my 1 x 1 and a half-inch screen.

why I don't own a smartphone

How do I get around without a smartphone?

I know you’re thinking at this point how do I survive with all that, but I not only survive, I’m happy with things this way. Not constantly looking at my phone allows me to enjoy everything around me more and be in the moment.

I breathe in the fresh air of nature more, enjoy the view of places in all their intricate detail, and just feel like I’m alive. Have you seen those videos where people walk with their smartphone and end up running into something?

I actually had someone bump right into my chest one time. Other people end up falling into fountains and getting soaked.

All because they’re focused on a screen and not focused on the world around them. When I was sitting in that airport looking at everybody I almost felt invisible.

A strange feeling, but comforting at the same time, because I don’t like being noticed since I’m more introverted.

Less Social Media

Another benefit I get is I’m not constantly checking anything while I’m out. I feel enough of an anxious pull to look at social media when I’m sitting at home on my laptop.

I can only imagine that feeling quadruples when you have a device that connects you at the tap of a finger. And then all the games and other apps people have that get them hooked, it feels like an addiction almost.

The only reason this blog has an Instagram is through one of my friend’s smartphone. But without all the bells and whistles on my flip phone, I don’t have any temptations to avoid.

Lastly, long term, I know screen time isn’t good for us. Our bodies weren’t designed to constantly look at screens.

Plenty of research comes to the same conclusion that it increases anxiety and depression. Not having a smartphone is one less device I have to deal with.

Cellphone addiction quote

Downsides of Not Owning a Smartphone

There are only a few downsides. Because everybody has a smartphone, a lot of people like to use the emojis on them.

This causes the texts to come to my phone scrambled and unreadable. I always have to remind my friends not to use smiley emojis.

Another downside is that some people I’m close to don’t have plans with their smartphones and use global networks. This means they communicate with everybody via WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

Fortunately, I can access Facebook messaging, but it does use up a lot of battery life on my phone, so I can’t communicate on it very long.

Additionally, people like to share videos and record voice clips to share with others. Another way to be more connected beyond just texting, but my flip phone isn’t big enough to receive videos and voice clips.

So I miss out on that stuff too.

Do I really need a smartphone?

Eventually, in order to thrive in society because of the constant upgrades to technology, I’ll have to get a smartphone one day. Just like no one can do school without the internet anymore, soon no one will be able to survive without smartphones.

Unless I’m on my laptop and have internet, it can be tricky to keep in touch with some friends since I can’t use Facebook too long or other messaging apps on my phone.

For that and other reasons, I’ll probably upgrade.

But even when I do, I’m going to make an effort not to have too many apps on it. I’d like to keep things as simple as possible with my phone usage because I believe life should be experienced more outside of a screen.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized how much the internet has made me feel less human and more zombie-like. Lower empathy, lower compassion, and just a sense of apathy and stone-like feelings towards the world.

Regaining My Humanity

When you see so much negativity all over the internet and also participate in the negativity, it makes you hollow to the world. You become numb to everything and stop caring at times.

Having a cynicism about a society that excuses you of making any effort to be a better person. I want to regain more of my humanity again.

Our lives won’t be measured by the number of texts we sent. And they won’t be judged by the number of apps we use.

Our lasting memories won’t have anything to do with our phones. What will matter in the end will be the depth of the relationships we had and the variety of our experiences we enjoyed.

We may be zombie-like in this generation, but we’re still human, which means the time we have to make meaningful won’t be forever.

Why I don’t use a smartphone

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I don't have a smartphone


  1. grapeswhiz grapeswhiz

    This is great. I do have a smartphone but I limit the apps and then I try to use self-control to limit the amount of time I spend using those apps I have installed (constantly working on that.) Once I was in New York City, enjoying my day immensely and of course on sensory overload from all the fun and new experiences. I kept updating my social media with pics and descriptions of what I was doing. Strangely, when the comments and likes started flowing in, I became anxious. It felt weird to have “friends” (acquaintances I have little in common with) back home giving approval and asking questions (“what are you eating?” or “did you see X tourist destination”?) when those comments only highlighted how little those people know me. I had invited them to comment, obviously, but then it seemed like an invasion of my privacy when they made jokes or suggestions that reflected benign voyeurism rather than a personal interest or concern. I felt like I was on TV, with unseen people following my travels and sitting at the dinner table with me, virtual-wise. It didn’t feel as real as life should, so I shut down the app and now I am more judicious about how much I share, post, and interact on social media, choosing carefully under which circumstances it makes sense to live privately and keep my thoughts and mementos to my closer circle of several family members and/or close friends. In summary, I agree that a life is lived more authentically when it’s lived in real-time and real-space, not in the digital documentary mode at every moment.

  2. Kimi Crescenzo Kimi Crescenzo

    I have never owned a smartphone and don’t plan on getting one in the future. I can’t say I have missed much. My only source of technology is a laptop and a simple flip phone used just for calls. If I need directions, I just write the Google directions I got from using my laptop, on a piece of paper. I use real paper maps for traveling and as far as getting lost, I just make sure I know where I am going ahead of time and if need be, ask for directions. No GPS do I have. I don’t use online banking and seldom buy anything online. I just deleted my facebook account because it became a burden to use (it was becoming a crutch and I didn’t like that) My adult kids all have smartphones and text their father. I seldom hear from them because they rather text than call. My simple flip phone doesn’t text well so I don’t have data on my plan.

    I am an avid traveler (road trips actually) and one thing I have observed is rarely do I see those around me traveling as well, using their smartphones while outdoors. I have found people who do take the time to enjoy the outdoors actually are spending less time on their phones. Maybe that is why I enjoy meeting people who travel and/or spend time outdoors as I do because their smartphones are put away and they take time to look up and say hello.

  3. Another smartphone refusenik here. Entirely too expensive. Too expensive to acquire, too expensive to “feed” every month, terrible UI – too small to be a computer, too large to be a phone. I’m not “missing out” on anything, and see no reason to own one of these overpriced, hard to use gadgets now or at anytime in the future!
    I have a rugged flip that costs me $15/mo to “feed”, and I turned off texting altogether because I seldom used it, and texting was never intended as a replacement for email. I wouldn’t even have the flip except I drive a 35 year old car and “they” did away with payphones! And you’ll never catch me DEAD on facebook or similar “fad sites” on any kind of device!

  4. Brandyn Brandyn

    I remember back in the early 2000’s when we used the internet to escape the grip of our daily lives. Now it seems we’re fighting to escape the grip of the internet. I did this through my smartphone.

    I’ve had a smartphone, switched to a dumbphone, switched back to a smartphone, and now I’m switching back again to a dumbphone. Why? Well, I had underestimated the power of Google Maps and how convenient it was for me, especially being that I travel A LOT. But I also found myself GLUED to my phone and my willpower is short lived. I also learned that I would go through these bouts of memory loss when I owned a smartphone. This would happen A LOT but being that it’s so normalized in todays culture, people wouldn’t even notice the effect it’s having unless they got rid of it for at least a month straight.

    in short, i was able to read, focus, and remember things on a much quicker and broader scale without having to deal with brain fog or feeling ‘numb’. I hope one day people will see the value of not always escaping boredom, having actual conversations with your neighbors, and learning to think without being bombarded with updates and dozens of notifications.

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