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Why I’ve Never Owned a SmartphoneReading time: 5 mins

Why I’ve Never Owned a Smartphone

It’s time to get back to simple living. 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 You Survive?

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 breath 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 as an introvert. Simple living for me.

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 my girlfriend’s smartphone. But without all the bells and whistles on my flip phone, I don’t have any temptations to avoid. Another way I enjoy simple living.

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 in practicing simple living.

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 with 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.

I’ll Need a Smartphone One Day

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 internet anymore, soon no one will be able to survive without smartphones. I’ll need one particularly for my second downside, because my girlfriend uses a smartphone and travels abroad. Unless I’m on my laptop and have internet, it can be tricky to keep in touch through our phones since I can’t use Facebook too long or other messaging apps. For that reason alone, 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 want to keep the same simple living philosophy 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 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 amount 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 our 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.

One Comment

  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.

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