Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Flip Phone Life: Why I Ditched the Smartphone

Perhaps it was the social media apps; you know, the needless scrolling through feeds, seeing nothing new -- wow, I wish I had Chrissy Teigen’s kitchen -- hoping to see SOMETHING interesting, refreshing the page, scrolling again --ugh I really don’t care about Jason’s idiotic political beliefs *unfollow*-- the activity is a typical millennial boredom buster that serves much better as a time-sucker than anything.

Maybe it was the constant internet access: the ability to see a picture -- oh, I love that top -- click a link, add to bag -- how nice that it auto fills my debit card number! -- and boom, fifty dollars later something I didn’t know I wanted five minutes ago was now on its way to my house.

Or was it the 14 gigabytes of photographs and videos taken, never looked at again if they weren’t deemed worthy of “posting” elsewhere  --  well one of these days I’m going to put them on my computer and PRINT some of these pictures!!  Perhaps ten thousand pictures I’ve taken in the last five-ish years I’ve had a smart phone -- enough to fill dozens of analog albums, and yet only enough prints to fill a couple pages.

Still more, it could have been the near-constant guilt in the very back of my mind that accompanied my near-constant smartphone use -- knowing I could have been doing a number of more productive things with my time: studying, doing a devotional, reading, painting that hutch I bought months ago, baking bread, talking to my husband…the list goes on and on.

You might not be a self-professed smartphone addict like me, but I know you know what I’m talking about.  You know, you finally get a moment from your busy life to watch your favorite TV show, and you catch the drift of the episode, enough to know what’s going on (mostly) for next week, while absentmindedly unlocking the phone, scrolling, repeat, while “watching”.  

the Kid, on his daddy's smartphone.  It is programmed in their DNA
 Whatever the reason, I realized I’m wary of it: the dependence, the addiction to it, the fulfillment from notifications…I had found myself curating life events or daily activities to make for a “good Instagram” -- living life for the post of it, if you will.  And I was tired of seeing others seemingly doing the same thing.  No one’s life is that picture-perfect -- I mean, who besides chefs cared about plating your food artfully before this “sharing” frenzy?  We’re all just seeing a calculated highlights reel from each other’s lives -- something that has become a gross misrepresentation of life and what we should expect from it.  Not only is it all too much pressure, it usurps the enjoyment from the actual moment and makes its worth dependent on how many “likes” it gets.  And, with my smartphone handy, I was always thinking about it.  Or I was spending too much money because online shopping is SO EASY (can I get an amen, ladies -- or men monitoring their shared bank accounts?!?!!)  With my smartphone, the world was at my fingertips and yet it wasn’t enriching my life -- I felt, in fact, it was doing the opposite.  

So what is a girl longing for the simplicity of the days of yore to do?  While there is an app to make your smartphone “dumb” (functioning solely as a phone), it could be too easily undone and, voila, same constant internet access and apps I’m trying to get away from.  I’m not strong enough to resist.  I had to go cold turkey.

Let me just say, I dreaded going into the AT&T store with my relatively new Samsung Edge (you know, with the curved screen and everything) and proclaiming to the salesman, “I want to trade this in and get a flip phone.”  I was sure my request would be met with a patronizing sales pitch: Are you sure?  Before you decide, why don’t you take a look at this option? *offers different smartphone*.  

Luckily, as Steven ended my contract and switched out my SIM cards, he didn’t give me the crap I thought I was going to get.  I explained I just needed to be further away from the grid, and he said, “Yeah I’ve had two people come in recently downgrading phones to do that.  The one guy came back in a week - couldn’t do it.”  Although he was nice, I’m sure he expected as much from me.  Oh Steven, I wish you knew how motivating I find being underestimated! Muahahahaha!!!!

 I will say, initially it wasn’t this cathartic experience.  It was quite the hassle actually, going to T9 texting (remember that?) and slowly keying in my contacts that got all messed up and lost in the transfer.  Plus, I don’t have the continuous, easy access to my overseas parents that I had with Whatsapp on my smartphone (solution: old-fashioned email). These inconveniences and annoyances are outweighed, I feel, by the following “Pros of the Flip Phone”:

1.       Online shopping, or even online window-shopping, will reduce.

2.       Research shows discontent and depression occur the more people are watching other peoples’ lives on social media, as we are all getting picture perfect misrepresentations.  By eliminating the comparisons totally, it would follow that I could become a more content person.

3.       I was able to use the money from selling my fancy phone for a real camera.  The goal is to have quality photos over quantity, and to have print-worthy pictures that will actually get printed.

4.       Without the distraction, more time for more productive things: including conversing more and being present with those around me.

5.       Not only did I reduce my phone bill by $50 a month, I also can coast on the same battery life for a solid 4-5 days without charging. 

6.       I can drop the phone to the ground (something I’m wont to do) without worrying about the screen shattering.

7.  I'm in good company: Warren Buffet and Anna Wintour number among high-profile successful people with flip phones.

8.  Nothing is more satisfying than ending a conversation by resolutely smacking a flip phone shut. 

Is such a technological downgrade for everyone?  I’m sure not, and I’m definitely not writing this to suggest anyone follow in my footsteps.  And, for the naysayers I’ve run into:  I’m not anti-technology at all (I still have a tablet for Pete’s sake).  I just needed to quell my own addiction to and dependence on the constant distraction found in my mobile smartphone.

A project I finally had time to do and complete without my smartphone!

Just so I don’t cave and go running back, I have a self-imposed timeline of being smartphone-less for one year.  If, after a year, I want to throw my indestructible flip phone against the wall (and watch it still work just fine) and buy myself another smartphone, so be it.  There was no harm done by being without for a while.  To take it a step further, I will be deactivating my social media accounts as well.  For the (surely very few) people who will miss my pictures and super witty anecdotes found on my Facebook and Instagram, you can get your Savannah-fix by checking here, where I will be more regularly posting about what I do with my flip phone life.  

On my low-tech flip phone
Everything is permissible,
but not everything is beneficial.
Everything is permissible,
but not everything builds up.
1 Corinthians 10:23 

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