When smartphones were just becoming popular, I had the brand new Samsung Galaxy. I purchased a fancy case for it and everything. I loved that phone (because I’m also half-nerd, so always being connected has a certain attraction for me. “Let me just Google that”). Then I moved to Hawai’i and lived on the side of a mountain overlooking the ocean. My phone didn’t work there.
Here’s the funny thing about this story. My life didn’t end.
Once I stopped using it regularly, I came to realize that I had a life outside of my phone. I found myself being forced to engage with the outside world (granted the outside world is pretty awesome on the islands). If I wanted even the weakest of signals, I had to hike up a steep hill to town (I’m talking a transmission-killer, engine-burner of a hill. I got into amazing shape in Hawai’i). The hike was great, but I didn’t feel I needed to do it many times a day just for a signal.
After a month, I gave up the smartphone and purchased a $10 flip phone so I could make calls here and there when I went into town or took the bus to Hilo or Kona.
Caring for an expensive phone takes a lot of energy. You have to make sure you don’t scratch it, don’t drop it, and don’t get it wet – kind of a like a Gremlin. We know how that turned out! I’ve seen people who are devastated when their smart phone is lost or broken. They have to pay an insane amount to replace it, and they feel that life is over with all of the data they have lost.
People have made fun of me because I have a flip phone. They don’t know my story. They don’t realize that, in the past, I’ve owned a smartphone, created Android apps, and I’ve worked in highly-technical jobs working with SQL databases, integration servers, XML feeds, etc.. . I have been working with the internet since it was available to the public, I just don’t find a need for it on the go. I see strangers on the train, in restaurants, at the store, and always in Starbucks on their smartphones, constantly, chronically-connected, and it makes me afraid of the addiction. (Also why I make it a point to disconnect from everything on Sundays.)
There are times when I’m out and about and would probably find it easier to have access to Google maps, but I deal with it just like I did for the first 20 years of my life – before cell phones and internet (when I had to chisel my homework into granite tablets and make it home in time for a leg of stegosaurus dinner).
Life abounds on this planet, and in our culture, life seems to be stuck, vibrating only within a spider’s web. I place my work on this worldwide web, I use twitter and Facebook to get the word out about what I do, but my life would not end tomorrow if I couldn’t find out who Liked my page or retweeted me. If I didn’t have the latest news and weather report at my fingertips, I think I could still make it through my day. If I couldn’t take a picture of a stranger to post on my account, making a snarky comment about them, I wouldn’t collapse. I think our world could actually be a better a place if we were forced to take a timeout from smartphones. Can you say the same?